In the last seven years, no farming simulator has escaped the Stardew Valley comparison. The question always came up: “How close is the title to the fan favorite of 2016?” With many more generic farm games, a sympathetic smile was response enough.
Meanwhile, titles are being established that not only understand the successful concept of the old “head cow of the genre”, but even improve on it, and Coral Island is definitely one of these types of farm simulators. access, version 1.0 is already on PC, Xbox Series X and PS5 appeared and landed directly on Game Pass.
Picturesque island setting with great attention to detail
Why it is easy to get lost in the world of tropical islands is clear at first glance; At least if we take a look at the game itself and leave aside the uninspired Steam screenshots that don’t do the title justice at all.
Coral Island comes with really beautiful 3D graphics and lovingly designed locations. Light and weather effects create a pleasant atmosphere, for example when restaurant lights reflect in puddles or rain causes drops on the edge of the field.
We also really enjoyed checking out the locals’ homes, as the interiors are beautifully detailed. Dirty clothes lying around, a pile of papers, photographic equipment – there’s a bit of clutter there, like someone really lives there.
The characters who live there seem as lively as the interiors. The 28 Bachelors and all the other locals feel much more real than in Stardew Valley or especially the Story of Seasons series.
The characters are a diverse group with different skin colors, Doctor Yuri has piercings and tattoos, mom Suki has stretch marks, and the local teacher has a prosthetic arm. There would definitely be more in terms of body types, especially cornering direction, but at least there’s more variation here than in other farm sims.
If we get to know the characters better, we often unexpectedly come across authentic scenes from their daily lives. When three people try to drag a couch to the first floor and struggle to maneuver it around the corner, Starlet Town and its residents are more believable.
Since we didn’t initially have console keys available, we primarily tested Coral Island on the Steam Deck. It ran very well at 60 fps. Additionally, we only noticed very minor errors, such as occasional music interruptions.
However, there are major problems with the German text language (the game has no voice output) in the pre-available version. Sometimes the text would switch to English for a few lines and then switch back, which hopefully can be quickly fixed with a patch.
How does it look on Xbox Series X/S and PS5? Even a quick look at the consoles reveals major problems. The game briefly freezes in the city when we move from one area to another or open the map and close it again.
We also noticed severe musical interruptions, missing noises, and graphical errors such as flickering. We can’t give a specific rating for the console versions because we haven’t played them enough to see how bad the problems are over time, but we wouldn’t recommend them (yet).
Coral Island: Launch Trailer Features Version 1.0 After Early Access Ends
Enhance, beautify, expand – above and below the water
If you crave the typical farm simulation activities like farming, caring for your cute round critters, crafting, decorating, exploring nature, and chopping up monsters in the mine, then you shouldn’t get bored on Coral Island so quickly.
The game has a huge amount of activities and mechanics. Before launching into action, we create our character in an extensive editor. We then find ourselves on a large surface map with unlockable areas, and there is also an equally extensive dive map.
Sometimes, in our opinion, the game goes a little overboard and makes us work too hard to progress, especially when we have to throw tons of garbage into the sea and we would like to call a container company to do it.
Coral Island offers a tab for different accessibility settings in the menu, where you will find, among other things:
- Color Vision Deficiency Modes (Including Intensity Adjustments)
- Dyslexia font and font size adjustment
- Size settings for HUD, mouse cursor and hot bar
Cleaning the ocean floor of trash and oil is one of our most important tasks. Not only do we know jellyfish and colorful corals, but we also know the people of the sea, and we can even hint at three members. But even apart from the exciting fantasy component, the ecological message fits harmoniously into the game.
For example, we adopt an animal from an animal shelter instead of buying a dog from a store. The whole story is about the pollution that has given Starlet Town a terrible rating and is now, among other things, scaring away tourists.
At the animal shelter, some furry friends are waiting for their forever home.
As in any farm simulator, you build your own farm according to your ideas.
That’s why on scenes and at festivals everyone works together to clean, reforest and create new things; And not without pressure, because a greedy oil company wants to take advantage of the financial situation to squeeze every last drop out of the city.
Details and features we love
In addition to our efforts to protect the sea (which are in no way driven by seafaring romances), we are also trying to make Starlet Town more attractive in many other ways. For example, we are looking for exhibits for the museum.
It’s a huge benefit to our brains that we can check the menu at any time to see what bugs and fish we’ve already donated. This is just one of the many quality of life features that we will miss in many farming simulators in the future; as well as the possibility of using the character profile on the map to show us where an NPC is currently located. No more annoying searches!
Days before the spooky festival, every corner of the city is fantastically decorated, as you can see here. The festival itself is even more impressive.
If we interact with the residents’ pets, we get a whole series of cute lines of text commenting on this.
Of course, these are just little things, like the detailed settings or the fact that we get a whole series of cute lines of text when we interact with the local mascots: “You wonder how the candy is so cute.” and It can be so fluffy.” But it is precisely these details that make a life simulation live up to its name and feel alive.