The farming-sim genre has had a few indie darlings the past few years. Games such as Stardew Valley, Forager, and My Time at Portia are all whimsical and pleasant to play.
The stresses of the real world fade away as you tend to crops and make the game’s location more resplendent. More recently, a new member of this tribe has washed up on these shores; Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands.
Now, from a title like that, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the latest Indiana Jones-esque epic. Stranded Sails, however, is a loving farming-sim that adds a new plot to the time-honoured narratives.
That being you get to live out your (admittedly mild) dreams of being a pirate! Kind of.
Ahoy There, Mateys!
Stranded Sails sees your character join his father’s crew on an expedition to start their lives anew.
However, during the course of the voyage, your ship gets stuck in a terrible storm. Your ship is wrecked, capsised and your crew flung far and wide.
From here, you are tasked with starting out on a mini-adventure. You need to set up a camp, with hopes of finding your friends, and, ultimately, get off this island.
Some of the crew are easy to find, others require you to venture further than the home island. To do so, you’re going to need the help of your various tools.
Through simply playing the game, you gain access to a myriad of new items. These range from water buckets and trowels to fishing lines and swords. At the start, you’ll find that these items are not exactly the best for the job, but they’ll suffice.
Your initial goal, after all, is to find all of your lost crew.
To add a sense of urgency to the game, Stranded Sails has a stamina meter. From digging up vegetables to sailing, to simply walking, everything takes stamina.
And, as you only have a finite amount of it, you need to plan for your adventures accordingly. Run out of stamina, and you’ll simply pass out on the spot. You’ll conveniently find yourself back at camp, but far away from where you wanted to be.
One way to avoid running out of stamina is to ensure you have enough meals to satisfy your hunger. This is especially important when venturing to new islands.
However, to do this, you need more ingredients. The game quickly becomes a series of fetch quests; get new food supplies, make better meals, get more ingredients, repeat.
Farm, Build, Explore, Harvest, Repeat
It can get a little tedious at times, especially when you’re starting off. The lower level items take up more stamina. But, you are able to improve them by feeding your crew a special stew.
Whilst making the stew, you need to find the best ingredients to suit each of your crewmates. The better the ingredients, the faster the meter will fill up. And the quicker you’ll get better equipment.
However, it’s all a guessing game (unless you look it up online, of course). The novelty of this doesn’t wear off as quickly as you would imagine.
Each time you complete a mission, you gain a little more insight into the mystery surrounding these islands. They aren’t all they seem and the sub-title (“Explores of the Cursed Islands”) might just clue you in.
Stranded Sails is a nice little novelty of a game that can be enjoyed by anyone at anytime. The game is pretty – without being kitschy – and the visuals are pleasant.
The day/night cycle – whilst not ground-breaking – is subtle and done rather way. Shadows merge and disappear as the sun makes its way across the sky. The colour palette adapts as night settles in on the islands.
There’s a sweet naivety to the game that almost makes it seem like a child’s cartoon. Therefore, it might not appeal to more mature gamers who like their games with less farming. But the charm of Stranded Sails is enough to pull you in for at least a short playthrough.
Oh, and also, you get to make a pirate ship. And who the Hell doesn’t want to be the Captain of their own ship?
Stranded Sails is available to purchase on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, GOG.com, or the Humble Bundle. All of which offer Stranded Sails for £19.99 (sales not permitting). For more information on Stranded Sails, check out the website. For more information on developers Lemonbomb Entertainment, check out their website. Or, if Discord, is more your thing, here’s an invite for you.
As always, make sure you stick with Any Button Gaming for the latest gaming news and features from around the world. And, to hear more of our latest updates, why not follow us on social media? We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Stranded Sails Review
- Overall - 6/106/10
Whilst Stranded Sails won’t change the game, it is a lovely, family-friendly little farming-sim that features pleasant music and beautiful enough graphics. The gameplay mechanics are simple to pick up and master, with most things merely needing a single button press to use. The story is sweet and focused, driving you along to want to do more to improve your camp. Initially, you’ll find it harder to do smaller tasks. But, as you progress through the game, you’ll be rewarded with new and better equipment that will open the game up to you. The game is let down by the stamina system, which can be a hindrance to you at the game’s outset, but, again, with enough progression, this is remedied with better equipment.
ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.