Where To Get It: Steam
Ahhh, the city builder. The puzzle city builder. They’ve both got their own beauty, but, done well, both can be extremely relaxing times. And Islanders… Is done pretty well.
As with city builders, buildings in the right range of each other create synergy, for good or for ill. A lumberjack does well with lots of trees around, better with a statue, better with a sawmill… But it makes parks, shamans, and other stuff less palatable to place nearby. Some buildings, like the Temple, are very picky, so thinking ahead is definitely a useful skill.
And then there’s the title. See, it all revolves around islands. Sometimes tiny archipelagos, sometimes big grassy dealios with ruins… But always, space is at a premium. And always, progress must be made. Most of the time, this means making enough points to get more buildings. But once you get far enough, the next island starts calling, and, whether through feeling you’ve maximised your work here, running out of useful buildings, or simply from having placed a lot of buildings, it’s time to move to the next, keeping only the score you’ve accumulated so far.
Thing is, while it is challenging, it does a lot to make it a chill experience. Tooltips handily tell you what a building does before placing it, allowing you to think. When placing things, there’s visual guides both to its sphere of influence and the points you’ll rack up from placement (Occasionally leading to “Just a pixel to the left, and… BAM, 32!”) It’s very quickly clear what’s what, and, throughout, light, relaxing music is playing, keeping you calm. Since the game automatically restarts on a loss, and saves progress if you leave, there’s also no pressure there, and I like that.
Islanders, overall, feels quite pleasant to play, sounds good, looks good… And, of course, the feeling when you have an island almost filled is a good feeling. Sometimes, you need something relaxing that still challenges the mind, and Islanders is definitely that.
The Mad Welshman always has time for relaxation. So ISLANDERS is definitely going in his “Play this when things are getting you down” folder.