By Karoline Castillo-Troncoso
Have you ever wanted to try something new? As one grows accustomed to the world around them, they tend to neglect the desire for adventure. But that’s the hope of all game makers: to capture the general human need for wanderlust. Coral Island, now in early access on Steam, offers up this need to get away beautifully.
Coral Island is unlike any farming simulator game that I have ever played; it provides various opportunities to realize the beauty and underappreciated quality of life that is found in farm life. It depicts the freedom and liberty found within communities that share similar necessities and lifestyles. This experience takes place in a utopian-like environment. The protagonist travels to this distinct location in an attempt to escape the chaos of the city, Pokyo, which is what he/she is used to.
When searching for a destination, the journey is sometimes much more fulfilling.
Sometimes, life’s noise must be silenced for one to be able to hear themselves think, and in certain circumstances, exploring external aspects of our comfort zones allow for discovering new interests and new relationships.
Coral Island, developed by Stairway Games and published by Humble Games, contains astounding artwork which is displayed whenever different characters interact with the protagonist. It’s artwork that’s accompanied by a complex and well-thought-out plot that truly leaves room for the imagination, with adventures at every corner awaiting exploration! An example of this is when the player initially begins playing the game, they’re led to their new home, which is currently undergoing renovation by Dinda and Joko, the local carpenters. Specifically, they are patching of the roof so that it doesn’t leak and replacing some of the house’s rotten wood. If the player desires further renovating, they are instructed to visit the carpenter shop in Hillside, northeast of the player’s current destination. This is one’s opportunity to explore the map and to encounter as well as interact with other characters within the game.
Once I first began my journey, I expected to be walked through the experience, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t. Instead, I was compelled to traverse through the map and find my way around; a message which can be connected to that of our real life existence in general. There won’t always be someone to hold your hand through certain situations, and although not always ideal, that forces you to persevere and endure obstacles with the purpose of conquering a goal. It demonstrates the need for a solid foundation–the need for a community that flourishes in the sight of familiarity with people that share common ideas, wants and needs.
An example of this is when the protagonist is making her way to the island, she is met with open arms, and welcomed into a community that accepts her. Greeted with words of amiability and tenderness such as “Hello, [player]! Welcome back to Coral Island, your new home!” And “You must be tired from the journey. Let’s head over to your new place!” Prior to this embrace, the player has the option to customize their character. This process includes various different modifications that involve facial (eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips, jaw) or bodily appearance (body type), different genders, outfits and outfits.
The music utilizied in Coral Island is calm, and flawlessly complements the events which occur throughout its storyline. Those musical vibes just make you want to keep going at your own pace.
The primarily single-player game allows for the advancement of fictitious relationships whether platonic or romantic with NPCs. It includes aspects of agriculture, where the player can grow and sell their own food with the resources provided for them. You’re can be an interior designer as well, able to decorate their starter home with furniture from the carpenter store after fully renovating it, etc. and overall promotes individuality in terms of how one develops and secures their livelihood in the game. I enjoy the open-world feel to Coral Island and how one must experience the island in its entirety for themselves–free to explore its in and outs, except for what is hidden until further advancement in the game. The attention to detail is captivating; the cute, little creatures found all around the map, the multitude of characters, all coming from different walks of life, which one can interact and develop promising friendships and relationships with. In Coral Island, the sky’s (or maybe the sea’s) the limit!
In conclusion, Coral Island’s lighthearted and wholesome nature paves way for the appreciation and recognition of various lifestyles. If you are searching for a game that highlights the values of community, love, acceptance, and hard work, I’d highly recommend playing it!
Karoline Castillo-Troncoso is one of our newest New York Videogame Critics Circle interns from the Bronx. Welcome aboard, Karoline!