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Coral Island Review - Stardew Factory

Coral Island

Coral Island is a farming sim that, at face value, is basically Stardew Valley or Rune Factory but with a tropical setting and ocean diving. That first impression is a little over simplified, but at the same time, there's basically no chance that you'll like CI unless you enjoy both of those games. Although it does have enough changes to be its own game, if the phrase "Stardew but tropical" isn't enough to pique your interest, you should just move on now. This isn't going to change anyone's mind about farming games.

Coral Island

So, given that you do like this sort of game, what's this one bring to the table? The main thing is the town rank system, which unlocks new quests, items, and bits of town as you contribute to the island's development by cleaning up the oceans and making donations to the museum or shrine. The latter two of these are, for all intents and purposes, completely identical to donations in Stardew, Animal Crossing, and other games. Ocean cleanup basically involves slashing garbage on the ocean floor to reveal cleanup nodes, which then purify a bit of the water and let you explore more. None of it is very involved, but the excitement of a big unlock waiting after enough donations keeps you going and the ocean critters are more interesting than catching a grasshopper for the 400th time in games.

Coral Island

Other than the ocean and town levels, this is going to feel very familiar if you've played Stardew since artisan goods were added. Basically everything else in the game feels like at most a minor adjustment to familiar content from that game, and while most of it is nonetheless well done, it would have benefited from taking more risks. For example, while it does at least use the tropical setting to include some crops and cusotmization items you won't find in other games, you'd be forgiving for not realizing this was taking place on an Indonesia-esque island from most screenshots. We probably shouldn't be getting snow in the winter here, for one thing, and we don't get much in the way of tropical weather or animals. It's an obvious missed opportunity.

Coral Island

Of course, the main discussion about this game has been whether it was rushed out of early acccess. I'm going to say yes and no. No, because there's still a tremendous amount of content here and just about everything important is working well. Yes, because it's not hard at all to find content at the edges that clearly isn't done. If you play enough of the game to complete the last and hardest shrine donation, you'll unlock an area that just doesn't exist. The description for solar panels is "TBD". Everyone talks about costumes at the Halloween festival, but no one is wearing one. I didn't encounter anything bad enough to ruin my experience, but others have. Know that for all the similarities to other farming games, you are not going into a game with the same level of polish as the big names.

Coral Island

All that adds up to a game that, as is unfortunately the norm for Humble Games, does not quite deliver on its promise. It's good, certainly, and I enjoyed the huge amount of time I spent with it, but it's impossible to get around the fact that there's almost nothing new here. If you've missed a few Stardew updates or never played Rune Factory at all, you will almost certainly have a more fresh experience by playing one of those games. Still, if you're like me just want another farming game to play while listening to something else, it'll get the job done. I may not remember much of it in a year, but I had a good time.

Rating: 75%

MSRP: $29.99

Time to beat: 70 hours to do just about everything, but I could have been more efficient

For more reviews, see my Steam curator page: 

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