What do you get when you mix a farming sim, a deck-builder, and a monster-collecting game into one cute package? Moonstone Island, of course, with the delightful release from the team at Studio Supersoft lighting up my life over the last week with its heartwarming and charming adventure. I love it.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Moonstone Island puts players in the role of a young alchemist who, after learning the ropes with her parents, ventures to the titular Moonstone Island where she will master her craft over the course of a year. From there, you’re essentially able to shape your own story, with plenty of crops to grow and potions to brew, a variety of villagers to help out (and even potentially date), and a bunch of colourful creatures to collect that’ll join you on your little adventure.
It’s all very charming throughout, with Moonstone Island having a super chill vibe that makes it perfect to absorb yourself in when you want to play something a bit more easy-going. It helps that the world is such a treat to be a part of, with the folk you meet all unique in their own little ways and the sights you see vibrantly befitting of the game’s fantasy setup. A lot of time will be spent getting to know these characters and earning their affection during your year spent on the island, but they’re all a pleasure to interact with so it never feels like a chore.
These interactions adopt a clever approach in the game, with the player able to choose different dialogue options that bring with them a percentage chance of impressing who you’re speaking to. If you succeed? You’ll build up your affection with that character. And if you fail? It’ll drop down a little. Whether you’re simply chatting, having a joke around, or even flirting with some of the characters who catch your eye, it makes each interaction all the more meaningful and ensures that even the simplest of conversations with characters have some stakes at play. And hey, you’ll even get to date some characters to get a deeper insight into what makes them click, with the quest for love just as important as anything else in Moonstone Island.
“It didn’t take me long before I found myself completely invested in the lives of the townsfolk I met during my time on the island, whilst collecting all the Spirits and building up my homestead felt equally engaging.”
When you’re not making new friends, you’ll spend plenty of time farming on your land, with an emphasis placed on growing your own resources and using them to craft all sorts of goodies. If you’ve played a farming sim before, you’ll feel very comfortable with the setup, with Moonstone Island rarely veering from the established formula of prepping some land, planting some seeds, and watering them daily until they grow. Alongside the resources you gather whilst out exploring, you’re then able to craft some useful items that can either be sold or used when adventuring, with players expanding their farming setup as they progress. As I said, it’s something you’d have seen plenty of times before so you shouldn’t expect some massive innovation, but its competent in design and it’s fun to get stuck into.
Where Moonstone Island does change things up is with its monster-collecting antics, with a variety of creatures known as Spirits able to join you on your journey. Similar to the Pokémon series, you’ll get to choose your first Spirit near the start of the game, and, also like the Pokémon series, each Spirit is tied to a different element that can hold advantages and disadvantages to one another. Taming the Spirits to have them join you is a little different though, with players having to feed them special foods to win them over – the catch is that you’re able to grow these foods yourself, so your farming efforts bring with them even more uses if you want to, uh-hum, catch ‘em all. There’s a bit more to it than that and players are able to level up their skills to make taming a bit easier, but it’s a simple enough formula when you get used to it.
You’ll also engage in battles with the Spirits you encounter, with Moonstone Island offering card-based combat that focuses on playing to the strengths of your party. Each Spirit in your team brings with them their own cards that are shuffled into the deck, with the player drawing five cards to use at the start of a battle. Each card requires a specific amount of energy to use, but inflicts varying amounts of damage to your opponent. With enemies having both a health and armour meter to whittle down to defeat them, it makes for a strategic affair that’ll require some clever use of your cards and proper energy management in order to succeed.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Players can also use items to de-buff their opponents, whilst you’ll also level up your Spirits as you play to improve their stats and build up your deck of cards with more intricate attacking options. Whilst things start off simple, there’s actually a fair amount of depth and strategy to Moonstone Island’s combat, so deck-building aficionados will certainly feel at home. It’s never TOO complex so that it becomes overwhelming for players and the game isn’t especially difficult when it comes to battling, but there’s plenty here to get stuck into if you really want to fine-tune your combat setup.
There’s just so much going on that it’s easy to find yourself completely invested into the world of Moonstone Island – in fact, I think this is the most absorbed I’ve been in a life-sim ever since putting hundred of hours into Stardew Valley. I haven’t even mentioned about how you’ll get to fly around exploring islands on a broomstick, how there are different dungeons to venture through that bring with them perilous encounters and goodies to gather, how you’re able to build up your character’s skillset across just about everything you do, how there are plenty of quests to complete that give you a deeper insight into the world, or how you can simply spend hours fishing. Add to that the cutesy visuals that feel perfectly befitting of the colourful world and it’ll be easy to see that Moonstone Island is another hit that fans of the life-sim genre are sure to love.
Moonstone Island Review
Moonstone Island is a delight to play, with its blend of farming, monster-collecting, and deck-building proving to be a real treat for fans of the life-sim genre. It didn’t take me long before I found myself completely invested in the lives of the townsfolk I met during my time on the island, whilst collecting all the Spirits and building up my homestead felt equally engaging. There’s so much to see, do, and discover, with every moment I spent with the game feeling full of joy.
It could be argued that the game doesn’t necessarily do anything to evolve upon the varying ideas that it embraces, but it didn’t really need to – especially since everything it offers is just a whole lot of fun and all complement each other. It’s just a fantastic little experience and one that I’m looking forward to spending even more time with over the coming months.
Developer: Studio Supersoft
Publisher: Raw Fury
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch