Let’s face it, a lot of PC games revolve around combat in one form or another. While these may be exciting and thrill-inducing, sometimes you really just want to sit back and unwind. In this respect, Islanders fits the bill perfectly. No time limits, no enemies, just you, an island, and a selection of buildings.
The goal in Islanders is straight-forward: get the highest score you can. At the start of each game, you’re given an island and a handful of buildings to place. Each time you place a building, you’re rewarded with points depending on where you placed it and what you placed next to it. Placement is helped by the fact you can see what bonuses or deductions will be applied to your move before you finalise your choice of position. Score enough points, and you will be given the option of selecting another set of buildings, and eventually a new island to continue expanding and increasing your score. Fail to reach the point threshold by the time you’ve placed all the buildings in your inventory, and the game ends.
Really, this is designed for casual, pick-up-and-put-down gameplay. Each time you start the game, you can choose whether to start a new game, or pick up right where you left off. This does not mean, however, that the game lacks strategic depth. This comes from the limited amount of land you have at your disposal for any given island, and the different sets of buildings you can choose. For example, farm buildings are worth a decent amount of points, but are space hungry. City buildings get bonuses for being closely positioned around a central hub, whilst lumberjack dwellings get a bonus for the number of trees within their radius. Also, some building types are antagonistic towards each other. For example, placing wood-cutters too close to each other will result in a drastic reduction in the amount of points you get.
All in all, Islanders has a simple but pleasing visual design, measured pace and enough strategic depth to be engaging. This is a nice relaxing way to spend some time while keeping the grey matter engaged, and is perfect for a lazy day. ■