By Chris Picone, 07 September 2022
Island Berry is a top-down crafting/survival game with a bit of a difference – once you’ve got your survival sorted, it turns into a sort of exploratory adventure game. It’s a cool concept.
The game starts off with some kickarse super-detailed pixelart screens in a cut-scene introduction depicting a mundane hamster-wheel modern life. The game itself, however, is minimalist and functional but still very nice to look at – the sprites for all the trees and flowers and objects in the game are nicely detailed but all the backgrounds are kept clean so they’re not distracting.
You start off with a few crappy tools and not much else. You need to use those tools to cut down trees and mine stone and other resources in order to fix the place up – very early on you dig a well and build a chicken coop – and upgrade your living conditions. The crappy tools break very easily so much of the early game is spent gathering resources and crafting their replacements. There isn’t a huge variety of items to craft either – 90% of it is just better versions of your existing tools (iron, silver, gold), but there is some jewellery and other knick-knacks. Also, it’s very difficult to progress above iron in these early stages. A touch of combat breaks the monotony; little blob creatures attack you in the long grass and they drop seeds when you kill them so you can re-plant trees and have a crack at gardening. Where this could get grindy, you’re onto the next phase of the game pretty quickly. Early in the game you receive letter drops that give you clues about other people in the area so the next step is to build a raft and go exploring. You’ll quickly find a bunch of other islands, with stacks of blob monsters guarding more valuable minerals. You’ll also find a laboratory and some other points of interest, and a new quest! I’m having a lot of fun with it but a tad more variety (more items to craft, different enemies) might be nice. Having said that, the game's still got a month or so until release, so I'm sure improvements are still being rolled out.
The hybrid genre appeals to me but also makes it a little more difficult to recommend; if you’re a huge crafting/survival fan you might find this one lacking in variety and become disappointed once you’ve finished surviving and move into the next phase of the game. Likewise, if you’re looking for an adventure, you might find the survival elements at the start a little tedious. Personally, I found it had quite a good mix – I’m very happy to recommend it, I’m just not sure who to.