[Beyond PlayStation] Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands Review

by EdEN, Owner

Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands from Merge Games and Lemonbomb Entertainmet pays homage to old-school The Legend of Zelda and Harvest Moon. Learn more in our Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands review!

Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands is a top-down open world game now out on Nintendo Switch. As soon as you see the trailer and the screens for Stranded Sails, you will obviously think of the old-school The Legend of Zelda games, particularly of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and of the recent full-on remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The game has more in common with the Harvest Moon series with a dash of survival elements since you’ll be farming and cooking to stay alive. and well, full of energy as you explore the different locations you’ll visit.

Your adventure will begin after you’ve selected your character’s name and genre. Your father has left you a note with words of encouragement, as well as a backpack for your journey. Your first objective will be to find your father at the docks so that you can start your trip – his name is Charles. But before you can go on this new adventure, there is something very important for you to complete: you need to get a barrel of apples for the journey. You can’t go on a long trip without some juicy apples to keep you fresh! Once you’ve brought a barrel of apples onto the deck, you’ll be able to cut the lines tying the boat to the docks so that you can be on your way… as soon as you climb up and release the sails!

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You’ll get to meet all crew members while at sea. As you make small talk with each one, you will learn some new information about all of them. This is a mandatory objective you’ll have to complete soon after you set sail, and it helps to understand more about this group of people. Unfortunately, the trip goes terribly wrong due to an unexpected storm, and you’re separated from your crew after the ship you were traveling in ends up crashing. It was a trip across the great ocean, and you will now find yourself lost at a random beach with everyone missing.

In this top-down adventure, you’ll move your character with the left analog stick, sprinting by pressing and holding down the Y button – which will also serve for rowing when you’re on a boat. You can interact with things with the A button, selecting your equipment with the right analog stick. Your inventory can be accessed with the X button, while the D-Pad will serve for checking your food, map, telescope, and what’s on your hands, by pressing up, right, down, and left, respectively.

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Once you’re on the island, you will need to find the supplies required to stay alive. With no idea of where you are, or what you need to do, you will need to explore the small area on which you landed. Every action you take will lower some of your energy, and running will drain it even faster. Since you were making your way to a snowy tundra, and the island you find yourself on is very tropical, you know something has gone terribly wrong. Luckily you find Sven nearby, one of the crewmembers who was traveling with you on the ship.

Next to him is the barrel of apples you picked up at the dock, so you should take advantage of that and eat an apple right away. Food is very important in Stranded Sails, as it will help you recover your energy so that you can continue to perform different actions and explore the surrounding areas before you faint from exhaustion. If you do faint, which will happen several times as you play Stranded Sials, you will be transported back to your headquarters, so at least you won’t be getting a game over. It’s a very convenient system that keeps you playing on and on without delay.

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Your first objective on this island will be to secure the objects needed to make a small boat that you can use to explore further around the islands. For this, you would need a sail, a mast, some planks, as well something to tie everything together. You’ll be able to find a sturdy rope a bit to the south of the barrel of apples. Close to it, you will find the torn sail you’ll need to fix. A broken mast that was shattered after the crash can also be salvaged, bringing you one step closer to completing your goal. As you find all of the items, be sure to pay attention to your energy bar at the center of the screen, so that you can make a run for the barrel of apples when you’re a bit low.

Since Sven is still feeling a bit dizzy, You will need to build a raft on your own by using the planks next to him. With the raft ready to go, you’ll be ready to leave the small area to search for other survivors. Once you locate the shipwreck, you will find the captain’s quarters, where your father and Fiola are taking refuge. The good news is that they’re both alive and that you’ll be able to sleep in your bed to rest and recover your energy so that you can carry on exploring the area. From the cabin, follow the nearby path to the camp.

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At the camp, you will find Fiola taking care of a small farming plot. She will teach you the basics so that you can understand how to use the shovel to prepare the soil. Once you have selected the shovel from your inventory, press and hold the A button to dig a new hole. The first thing you would plant will be some corn seeds – a very nutritious source of food. After this, you will need to water the plants. By using a wooden bucket, which is a bit leaky, you can gather fresh water to fill up your bucket. Use the water on the plants, and you will help them to grow healthy. If the soil looks dry, be sure to use some more water to fix that issue!

Next stop, you will need to set up a kitchen where you can cook up new food items. For this, you will need to search the beach east of the shipwreck for some kitchen supplies. Find a roasting pan, as well as a cooking pot, and you’ll be ready to go. There are also other tools around the beach, such as a saw, a pair of tongs, and a sturdy heavy hammer, which will be put to good use for crafting. In fact, cooking and crafting sort of work the same way, since as long as you have the recipe – or plan – for something, as well as the different “ingredients” for it, you will be able to obtain new items in no time. You can also try to discover new cooking recipes on your own, which is not hard to do as long as you don’t mind some trial and error.

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Something else to consider as far as cooking is concerned is that your character is not the only one who needs to stay fed and healthy! You can also use the different ingredients you can collect – corn, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and more – to cook a stew for the crew. For this one, you can add ingredients for each crew member, and they will all be put into the stew that will feed the entire crew. The more crew members you have, the more ingredients you will need to use, but the bigger the boost to your relationship with each one. This will help you unlock some extra stuff to aid you on your adventure.

Later on in the game, you will get to find a sword, which will introduce some combat into the mix. It’s not something that requires a deep strategy since it’s a bit more on the hack and slash side of things, so it doesn’t contrast with the more laidback elements of the survival and farming side of the equation. I guess that given the maritime theme, some sword fighting was in need for this to qualify as an adventure.

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Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands is a fun and colorful adventure that makes for a very laidback and relaxing experience. You’ll be busy as you take on “just one more objective” over and over again, especially during the first part of the game were you’re busy trying to get all of the crew back together. Other than some slowdown here and there, I didn’t feel there was anything to complain about for this one. The game is available on Nintendo Switch for $24.99, and it’s one you should check out.

This Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Merge Games.

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