Steam Challenge: Castaway Paradise

Game: Castaway Paradise 
Time Played: 3 Hours

I totally blame this on Micawber, my brother-in-law, who introduced me to this. He’s interested in Animal Crossing, but doesn’t own the game or systems to play it. So, he’s been on the lookout for something similar for PC or mobile. Then he stumbled upon this on Steam, and it sounds like he’s totally addicted.

I picked it up, too, because it’s on sale this week, and I figured $5 wasn’t too much a loss if I didn’t like it. It touts itself as a blocky-looking Animal Crossing for PC, though my understanding is that it’s a port from the mobile version. As a lover of Animal Crossing through the years, I decided to try it out.

I feel that it’s somewhat a cross between Animal Crossing and Farmville. You do feel the remnants of the mobile gaming monetization there – though they’ve changed the PC version to have no in-game purchases. There’s a VIP status in the game, which you earn by reaching level 15, that I can’t help but feel was probably what you bought into on mobile. It’s fine, because it doesn’t distract from what I’m playing at all… I just notice these things having played too many Facebook games.

The Farmville elements come in the form of quests that you pick up from the villagers. Unlike Animal Crossing where you accidentally stumble upon deeds to do for your neighbors by chatting with them or passing them by, this game throws a quest list up on the side of the screen, so you always have something to do. That’s not so much a bad thing, but it does differ in that you’re leveling and working on objectives.

There’s a bit of a timer when it comes to crops, similar to Farmville. However, not watering crops won’t lead to their loss, so it’s not quite as punishing.

To say that the game takes inspiration from Animal Crossing is an understatement. While it takes place on an island instead of a town, it has many of the elements you expect from an AC game: fishing, bug catching, decorating, collecting things in a museum, upgrading your home, changing your character’s looks, meeting animal villagers and doing stuff for them, and, of course, cleaning up weeds.

The one thing it does lack is the multiplayer functions. You can’t visit a friend’s island and hang out with them, which is a bit of a bummer.

The game’s aesthetics work for what they are, though I’m still getting used the blocky style character art. The way my character runs bugs me a bit, and the flailing about the villagers make when they “wave” to you is also questionable.

The game’s dialogue tries very hard to imitate AC’s quirky fun, but just doesn’t quite have the same charm and feeling behind it. Because villagers don’t move in and out, and conversations don’t happen as organically, I don’t get the sense of forging relationships (good or bad) between them.

If I don’t like a villager in AC, I can knock him with a shovel or toss him in a pitfall and hope he moves out sometime. Here, it seems like I’m stuck with these characters no matter what I think of them. Vice versa, I still have pictures that some of my old AC friends sent me before they moved out sitting in my house. *sniff*

That’s not to say that Castaway Paradise is a bad game. It’s not. It’s fun and it has its own style… it just gets overshadowed by those like me who have played way too much AC in the past. It feels a little more geared towards kids – and would actually make a great kid game, IMHO, as it’s very safe – but adults can enjoy it, too. Micawber seems to be captivated by it, at least, having never played an AC before.

So if you’ve never tried an AC game, or you are looking for something similar to AC on the PC, I can suggest Castaway Paradise. Just don’t expect it to have the same development as a full-blown Nintendo-created game from the Animal Crossing series and you should be fine. It’s cute for what it is, and worth it if you grab it on sale.


Yes, if you enjoy AC type games and can catch it on sale.