Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure is extremely cute. You play as four friends who get caught in a storm and wash up on a magic island. You get to explore, battle, and decorate the island while also fixing things and helping out the local wildlife. Ikonei Island goes into Early Access for PC tomorrow, August 18th! Snowcastle Games then plans to release this on multiple platforms in 2023. I got a chance to check it out over the past week and think this has the potential to be a really fun game.
The most exciting aspect of this game is the art. Ikonei Island feels complex and magical, with a rich story and lots to explore. The character mechanic is really cool, as you can play as either of the four characters, but you have to go up to the other characters to switch to them. I think this is supposed to be more like character selection at the beginning, but where you can try out all of the characters for a bit.
Once I selected my character, I was encouraged to get the hang of the mechanics by picking up and placing frogs on statues. This was extremely amusing, because whatever item you had selected in your inventory would be shown in your hand. I was running around with a cute frog for a while before doing the tasks actually assigned to me such as figuring out the crafting system or clearing a path with an ax.
I felt like the main tasks were pretty well explained, but for a family-friendly game, I think the developers had high expectations for what I would infer about the controls. I got into my first battle and was pretty clumsy about it and almost died trying to select my weapon, swing, and dodge. I realized I should run away but was only really achieving a brisk walk before realizing way later that the ‘Shift’ button would let me run. After I did defeat the jelly blob that attacked me, I wasn’t given much of a reward, which kind of made me wonder if I was supposed to fight them in the first place. This was confusing to me because the marketing talked a bit about the battle system but the actual game seemed to encourage me to run past those jelly blobs to skip the battles.
Similarly, I struggled with a lot of menus and needing to know whether I should use wasd, the mouse, or the arrow keys in a given context. I also found that clicking on items while crafting would craft the item directly, but I wasn’t totally sure how to see the recipe for the item without crafting it. A lot of care was put into the visual details of this game, but it definitely needs some user experience updates to match.
Nevertheless, this game is doing a lot. I think it sets itself apart from some of the obviously comparable games such as Animal Crossing by doing a lot more storytelling and having a battle system and quests to do, but you have way more ability to customize your environment than in a Mario or Pokemon game. If the developers updates planned for Fall 2022 make the user experience reflect the attention to detail that they put into the visual storytelling of the game, Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure could be one of my most anticipated 2023 releases.