Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands Preview – Harvest Moon Meets The Legend of Zelda

Being stranded on an island and then having to survive wouldn’t exactly be impossible, but it sure wouldn’t be so easy either. However, true adventuring is stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, even in moments where life itself takes a drastic, unexpected turn (in my opinion).

Such is the case in the upcoming open-world exploration farming adventure Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands, from developer Lemonbomb Entertainment and publisher Merge Games. At PAX West 2019, I got to see what life was like being a shipwrecked explorer in this adventure and discovered that it surprisingly had an open-world that I genuinely wanted to be in.

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As mentioned before, in Stranded Sails, players will be a shipwrecked explorer who, with they’re trusty crew, has ended up on an unusual archipelago that holds many mysteries to uncover. As the child of the gravely injured captain, it’ll be up to the player to take charge, set up camp, survive and hopefully, find a way to escape once and for all. With several cursed islands to explore, and so much to do, players will most likely be spending hours upon hours in the Stranded Sails’ open-world.

You might be wondering, however, “Hmm.. how do you survive?” or “What is there to do, exactly?” No need to feel cast aside like Wilson from Cast Away, I have the answers you seek and more. For the demo, I played, I immediately set foot onto one of the islands found in Stranded Islands. With no clear objective in mind, I intended to do one thing, and one thing only: Explore.

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After taking a pleasant stroll around the island, it became clear to me that there was no shortage of activities to do, like finding tools and treasures, farming the best crops around and cooking the best of meals, and even crafting resources and go on dungeon crawling quests full of enemies. What was remarkable about all of this is how well all parts worked together.

Some open-world games have attempted to do this, to have players do “this and that and whatever else,” but end up having a game that just feels so scattered. For Stranded Sails, at least from the demo I played, everything had a purpose — making it a relaxing yet exciting journey to go on. While I was playing, the developer mentioned to me that they wanted to make the game like a fusion of Legend of Zelda and Harvest Moon. And as zany as that sounds, I believe that’s the best way to describe Stranded Sails. 

Like Harvest Moon, farming, cooking, and crafting mechanics in the demo I played for this game just clicked. Making a meal was a fun adventure on its own, even. For instance, I knew of a complex but nutritious dish to make, however the catch with it was that I didn’t know what ingredients were required. So I went through a sort of trial and error process, mixing and matching ingredients, and ending up discovering a new and better dish that when consumed, gave me certain buffs for my character. Meal making itself was one of the many unique features. For those wondering about other features, there’s going to be fishing and base building in the game.

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But all of the preparation tasks weren’t just for fun; they also played a role in the more dangerous adventuring I did. One crew member had given me a quest to retrieve an item within a cave. While this may not seem like a big deal, I shortly learned that it was as the cave was full of not-so-friendly ghost pirates. So instead of being a good old happy farmer, it was time to transition into being Link from The Legend of Zelda as I took on the game’s quick and satisfying combat.

Based on what I played, it seems like Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands will weave exploration, adventuring, and survival into one nicely wrapped package for players to enjoy. For those who have dreamed of there being a The Legend of Zelda and Harvest Moon-fused game, dream no further — Stranded Sails is probably going to be that game.

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Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands is planned for launch on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next month (this October.) The game is also set to release on PC-via Steam sometime in Q4 2019.

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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.