Eagle Island from Screenwave Media and Pixelnicks is a colorful, charming and fun roguelite Metroidvania on Nintendo Switch. Learn more in our Eagle Island review!
The game begins when Quill sets out on a new adventure with his two owls, Koji and Ichiro. As they sail among the islands in the Otriactic Sea, their boat is hit by a sharp wind from the north, as lightning bolts strike from the sky. The boat is, unfortunately, hit by this, bursting into flames. They end up in an unknown location and will have to explore the area to see if there is anything that can tell them what is going on. Ichiro is, unfortunately, kidnapped by a rather large eagle named Armaura, so it’s up to Quill and Koji to save the day. The good news is that you run into Dr. Oliver Ornis, who gives you a very special glove. The falconry glove, which is quite ancient, will allow you to send Koji flying to attack your target.
Before you start a new run in the game’s story mode, you can select between using the Core Rules, which is for those that want to dive into Eagle Island to have the standard experience (challenging gameplay, 3 hit points, and a 4x combo drops a heart), the Hardcore Rules (all of the above, but less extra heart runestones, and you need a 6x combo to drop a heart), or the Casual Rules (6 hit points, blue chests will contain hearts, shopping is cheaper, and other stuff here and there).
You’ll move Quill with the left analog stick or the D-Pad, and he can jump with the A button. Attacks are set to the X button, and as long as you press and hold the button, you can aim where Koji will be sent to with the left analog stick or the D-Pad. You can use your feathers with the B button, which will open the selection wheel. The ZL and ZR buttons can be used to change between feathers left and right on the wheel, respectively. To use their powers, you’ll need to use up a Manaroc. You can also open your map with the Y button. And if you feel that this is not working for you, then you can go into the controls setting in the options menu and change what each button does so that you can find the combination that is right for you.
An interesting gameplay mechanic is that while you’re pressing and holding down the X button to aim where Koji will be flying to, you’ll end up suspended in the air. Hit an enemy, and you’ll be able to remain airborne for a bit longer, aiming to once again send Koji flying towards another enemy. This can help you clear out rooms faster, while also making it easier to land a proper combo by quickly defeating one enemy after the other, which, as mentioned before, will reward you with a heart that will heal you.
Defeating enemies will reward you with coins and gold seeds. Gold seeds you can use these to pay the crow that is guarding a chest so that it goes away, leaving the chest open for you to collect its treasure. These include medals that you can add to Koji’s build – or trash if you don’t have any open slots or don’t need the medal -, adding a special skill or ability. I’ve run into ones that make it possible for Koji to quickly recover when missing a target mid-air, one that allowed Koji to jump extra high when I pressed the jump button just as he was hitting the ground, one for increasing Quill’s overall hit points, to name a few examples. The coins can be used with the toucan trader to directly buy a medal from its selection, or heal to a bit of your health.
Every time you die inside of a dungeon, you’ll be brought back to its entrance, and the overall layout of the dungeon will change, so you’ll need to once again explore each room as you try and get to the final room. Bosses are also certainly a thing in Eagle Island, so be ready to pay attention to their movement and attack patterns to find out a way to defeat them. They will take many hits, but you’ll at least be able to quickly land a combo that will allow you to gain some Manaroc to make use of the feathers you have collected.
At the end of a stage, you will be graded based on your performance, with an S ranking being the highest possible grade you can get. If you want to get there, you will need to do bigger combos as you explore a dungeon, as well as collect the ancient coin in that area, collecting as many gold seeds and silver coins in your path as possible. You will also need to explore all the rooms in the dungeon, while also trying to do it as fast as possible.
You can go into the options menu and configure the way the game’s graphics are presented, between the original pixel style, one with a soft filter applied, one that sharpens up them pixels, and even a CRT filter that gives it that old-school feel from back in the day. You can also add an aiming guide to make things easier for you. As for the audio settings, an important one is the one for how, when you have low health, you will hear a beep over and over again. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, so there is the option of turning that off.
Eagle Island also has accessibility options to make the game enjoyable for players that might have a disability. You can dim the background, disable lighting, outline the characters and platforms, disable screenshake, and reduce flashing. There is also the possibility of adding auto aiming, disable the vibration, activate using the right analog stick, and you can even slow down the overall game speed by up to 50% so that more players can have a chance to enjoy what Eagle Island has to offer.
Eagle Island is a fun roguelite Metroidvania with simple, and to the point gameplay mechanics, that is challenging enough to keep you busy for a bit. Each dungeon has a different feel to it, and other than the feathers that grant your companion’s different abilities, you’ll have to start each dungeon from scratch without any medals to boost your hit points, attacks, or to grant you any extra skills. Dying is not the end since you’ll get to have another go at a dungeon with a new procedurally generated layout, so while the overall elements will remain the same in accordance to the dungeon’s theme, the layout, enemy placement, treasure chests, and shop inventory will be different.
This Eagle Island review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Screenwave Media.