STAFF REVIEW of Castaway Paradise (Xbox One)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018.
by Kirsten Naughton

Castaway Paradise Box art I have been itching so bad for Animal Crossing to come out for Nintendo Switch. The quests, the collecting of items and the adventure are a few of the reasons why I love Animal Crossing so much. What does this have to do with a review on an Xbox centric site?. Well, when Castaway Paradise fell on my lap, I was really excited and hoping that it would at least keep me busy until the real deal came out.

The main idea of the day is that you're on a deserted island after being trapped in a storm on a boat, in the middle of the ocean. Yep, you're basically shipwrecked. You land on an island, which becomes your home, and you immediately go into a very simplistic tutorial. Most of the time, you're using the 'A' button a lot to talk to different characters as you walk around with your joystick. It doesn't get any more fun than that, right?! You also use the other face buttons to select between your tools. The tutorial holds your hand the entire way through, which in my opinion, is a little irritating. The reason being that it is pretty hard to actually to pick something up with 'A' or have a thirty second conversation with one of the characters.

The only need of a tutorial for this game should be one that shows you how to make a plot for your crops. Everything else should be in a little icon next to the item or character to indicate that you should press that button. Like I said a little earlier, 'A' and your joystick are your best friend in this game. I can't say that much for the menu though, as that is a whole different story.

Your main menu is where you'll find your inventory, quests, catalogue, outfits, achievements and settings. Your inventory is everything you've collected or bought from the catalogue. It is also where you can store the things you grow. Quests show your daily challenges and progress along with all of your current quests that you have open, and if there are any new ones available. If a new quest is available, a blue octagon will be above your character. If no blue octagon is seen, it's an open quest.

The catalogue is your shopping centre. You can buy stronger tools, with gold tools being top of the line as they are also 10,000 coins each. You can buy everything from furniture for your house, wallpapers for your walls or new flooring. Pretty standard for a game where the main goal is where you want to restore an island to its former glory. Outfits is pretty self explanatory honestly. As you level up, you can unlock new outfits for your characters or buy them as you would anything in the catalogue. Achievements, like outfits, are self explanatory as well. As you earn these achievements, the icons will go from grey to coloured.

The quests are overall, very easy. You won't be struggling hardcore to figure out how to catch a bug, redecorate your home or to go meet a new character. The only thing you may struggle with is catching a fish for the first time. At first, one of the things I noticed is you get bombarded by quests right off the bat. In my opinion, it doesn't ruin the game because you can choose when you do the quest, the only catch is you can't really progress until you eventually complete them. One of the things I didn't like about the quests is it didn't give me information or a brief animation showing me how to do something.

Early on there is a quest that says you have to evolve trees, but it doesn't tell you anything about how to do it or what the requirements are for planting this tree. Not a deal breaker, but worth noting. I then learned how to do the task by going into the catalogue a couple hours later after trying several things. By then, all I'm left with is wondering why they didn't show this in the tutorial. Thank the heavens I know to how to water my crops, as that's another area where the tutorial lacked in information. It showed the bare bones basics instead of showing how to play the important parts.

Some quests provide you with puzzle pieces that are used to repair bridges and unlock new areas of the island, leading to some characters which are stranded. Each bridge repair requires 9 puzzle pieces; these can be acquired quickly by questing, but can also be bought from the store with enough currency. Quests consist mainly of very simple deliveries and the growing and catching specific items.

The audio in this game is very similar to Animal Crossing, where it's literally the same two or three melodies over and over again. I noticed when I walked, or used any of my tools, there were no sounds accompanying them. Honestly, this is a 'take it or leave it' scenario. In my case, I muted the sound and music, put Spotify on in the background and played. With just the included sound and music on it feels very hollow, like someone just put music there because that's what Animal Crossing does. I feel this game tries too hard to be similar to Animal Crossing and not carve out its own identity. There's nothing wrong with taking things from Animal Crossing as inspiration, but they should have made Castaway Paradise their own instead of trying to match another game with a much higher following and more established.

The one positive thing that I did truly enjoy, despite its flaws, was the fact I could have a bad day, not in the mood for my usual gaming, only to put this game on and complete a few quests and become calm and relaxed. That's what this type of game experience is supposed to be; laid back and stress free. Plant crops at your own leisure, meet new characters, and restore the islands. This game is perfect for those gamers that have no idea what Animal Crossing is. For me personally, I was open minded. I wanted to believe this could tide me over until the real Animal Crossing came out and I'd be set to go but I unfortunately I don't think I'll be entering a Castaway Paradise anytime soon.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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