Farming and crafting simulators have found a really nice place in today’s market. But when you look at other games in this genre, it begs to question whether or not new sim games are necessary. Stardew Valley is arguably the best of the genre, providing hours of content. And yet, it can be a daunting task for younger gamers. Stranded Sails doesn’t bring a lot of new things to the genre, but it’s simplified mechanics and casual pace make it an enticing option for younger gamers.
Stranded Sails is a nautical-themed simulator. You could say it’s a pirate adventure, but pirates only play a small role. You are on an expedition across the ocean with your father and a crew. Your intention is to go to a place with a colder climate and start a new life. Of course, the weather had other plans and you end up shipwrecked on some tropical islands. Your basic task is to find your crew and eventually rebuild your ship.
The game is very linear. You have specific tasks and missions to fulfill in order to progress the story. These tasks usually including building something specifically for your crewmembers (after you find them). Along the way, you are treated to an interesting mystery concerning the islands themselves. It wasn’t necessary for the development team to add this, but it’s a nice little touch that turns the game into more of a pirate adventure.
The tasks at hand are straightforward. You don’t have to figure out a lot of details because everything is spelled out for you. I had no issue figuring out exactly what I needed to do for every task. There are a couple of cooking tasks that take a little more brainpower. First, you can discover new recipes by mixing ingredients and hitting the discover button. With some trial and error, you can find food that will increase your stamina meter (which I’ll talk about in a bit).
Second, you have the ability to make a stew for the whole crew. Each crew member likes specific ingredients. Once you find those ingredients, you can increase the healing property of the stew and be rewarded with upgraded tools. No matter what, the stew will refill a giant portion of your stamina. But if you can get the perfect ingredients, then you can get rewarded. It’s a fun little guessing game.
Since I already mentioned it, let’s talk about the stamina meter. The stamina meter was added in order to add some challenge to the game. It forces you to keep farming and cooking because you need to refill your stamina after every action. You use stamina when walking, running, rowing a boat, chopping wood, digging holes…the list goes on and on. And when you row to other islands, it takes a great deal of stamina. You can cook meals, eat stew, or sleep to refill stamina.
I understand why the meter is there, but boy is it annoying. It contradicts the casual premise of this game. And early on, it’s very burdensome and keeps you from freely exploring the area. Luckily, you can fast travel back to camp at any time if you run low on stamina. If you run out of stamina, you are automatically teleported back to your camp. You must be mindful of your stamina at all times.
Despite the stamina meter, I really enjoyed farming, cooking, and upgrading my camp. The exploration of the islands can be a lot of fun as well. You will see some combat in the game, but it’s nothing fancy. You’ll mostly dodge then attack until the enemy is defeated. For the most part, you will farm and upgrade at a leisurely pace. And the art and sound design fit very well. It’s cute and colorful, perfect for all ages.
It doesn’t drastically change the genre, but Stranded Sails is enjoyable. The stamina bar can be very annoying, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying what the game has to offer. The straightforward approach to task completion is a benefit for those who need more guidance in their sim games. If you are looking to try out a simulation game, then Stranded Sails might be a good jumping-off point.
Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Cute and colorful
Easy to understand tasks
Not a lot of guessing, which can benefit younger players
Stamina bar management