Island Saver (Switch): COMPLETED!

Cynically, Island Saver is an advert for NatWest Bank, superficially dressed up as a save-the-planet first person eco shooter. You clear up and recycle rubbish, you clean the plants and animals, and you endure banking related puns as you go.

Shoehorned in is a primer on what a bank is, and you’re taught about interest, currency exchange, loans and tax collecting. And of course because this is an advert, the game is free.

Give the grey animals enough food and they fatten up, allowing you to suck all the money out of them and turn them into a nice bright colour. Also, you can make them wear hats because of course you can.

So why did I enjoy playing it so much? Certainly, it’s not a fantastic game by any means. The gameplay loop is a little tedious, as you can only hold so much and the recycle bins can also only hold so much, and to empty them you need tax credits from a specific machine, and everything takes up inventory space so you’re constantly juggling it. Then your water gun runs out of water just before the Litter Bugs – the only baddies in the game – appear and you can’t shoot them as you need water and you’ve accidentally selected the wrong inventory slot so you fire cans at them instead anyway and by the time you’ve refilled from a pond and taken them down they’ve dirtied all the plants again.

You can ride some of the animals to allow you to access new areas. Yes, it’s a Metroidvania game. Sort of.

But, it’s very low peril. There’s no real danger. There’s no real skill needed anywhere and it’s all so bright and jolly and easy that somehow, you just get sucked into it. Island Saver feels a bit like Viva PiƱata only reimagined as a first person shooter. It’s not going to tax you or provide high thrills, but it’s pleasantly relaxing and inoffensive, and, actually, the banking advert side of it isn’t really that intrusive after all.

Sometimes you have to plant seeds to grow things. Sometimes you need to barter for the seeds, and make fertiliser for them too. Oh, and spoiler: despite the text in the screenshot, there is no magic money tree.

You can’t really complain for free, either.

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