REVIEWS
REVIEWS

January 10, 2024

Jem Sagcal

Coral Island Review: Life, Enchantment, and Advocacy

January 10, 2024 | Jem Sagcal

Step into a fantastical island filled with mysteries and adventure with our Coral Island review.

Stairway Games’ Coral Island is a whimsical farming simulator featuring certain aspects of our favorite cozy games while adding its own unique stories and events. The player begins as a new farmer on Coral Island, which is still recovering from a devastating oil spill that threatens its ecology. In the game’s main story, tension among the residents is high as they fight for the preservation of the island while keeping its economy afloat. Read on for our review of Coral Island!

Coral Island Review Header

Coral Island: A Real-Life Simulator

Coral Island doesn’t shy away from real-world political and environmental issues. The story reflects current ecological disasters, such as oil spills, deforestation, cultural preservation, and capitalism. In that sense, the game marks itself as not just a cozy, relaxing simulator but an advocacy for environmental care and pride in one’s local land.

Environmental care in Coral Island extends to underwater levels.

While the enchantment of the island is fiction at play, the issues, statements, and Islander’s worries are true experiences for many Southeast Asian lands. These stories make Coral Island unique – that while you are whisked away into a new world, it will remind you of what’s important in real life.

In line with the game’s story, Stairway Games held a charity event with the limited release of the ‘Ocean Guardian’ Charity DLC Pack. 100% of the publisher and developer proceeds went to Coral Guardian, a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of aquatic life around the world.

Everything in One

Within just a few days in-game, there were numerous things to do, see, and experience. Coral Island has fishing, farming, diving, romance, decorating, collecting, mining, monsters, and so much more as you accomplish your main mission of restoring the land. It can be difficult to begin managing your day right away, but the game doesn’t pressure you with time constraints, allowing players to ease into the gameplay and the quests.

One of the events in the Island, which involves diving and cleaning up the Ocean to restore it after the effects of the oil spill.
One of the events on the Island involves diving and cleaning up the Ocean to restore it after the effects of the oil spill.

If your favorite games are Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, or Animal Crossing, then Coral Island has everything you love about those relaxing simulators. For those still exploring the genre, the game eases into the mechanics without being overwhelming for new players to get comfortable with the style. 

However, If the titles mentioned above aren’t within your wheelhouse, then Coral Island may not be the game for you, as these life simulators heavily inspire it.

Bringing The Coral Island To Live

Exploring the large island itself is a wonder amongst other farming simulators. There are no loading screens when exploring the towns and areas, which makes for seamless and continuous gameplay when harvesting and collecting items.

The map of Coral Island, as well as the design of its menu.
The map of Coral Island, as well as the design of its menu.

There are 73 characters in Coral Island (25 romance-able characters), each with unique personalities, likes, and dislikes. The game’s unique menu allows you to see each character’s traits and record items they prefer to receive.

There are also 20 furry friends that roam around, with some you can meet and adopt in the Adoption Center. You may also find numerous other critters, sea creatures, and monsters that fill the island, from butterflies to giant stingrays. 

Coral Island Review: The Adoption Center. Players can adopt cats, dogs, or bunnies after unlocking the required items and furnishings.
The Adoption Center. Players can adopt cats, dogs, or bunnies after unlocking the required items and furnishings.

There is always something to see or someone to meet throughout your time in Coral Island. These characters and creatures bring life and magic into the game, all while getting lost in the beauty and sceneries of the design. 

Starting may be difficult at first, especially with your limited stamina. For example, in Stardew Valley, using the scythe doesn’t drain stamina, so players can clean off their farm easily without worrying about nearing fainting before the end of the day. In Coral Island, you begin with 450 energy that depletes when you use the scythe – this may be due to your scythe being your most-used weapon to not only clear up grass but trash in the ocean during diving sessions.

This means that you have to play your day with your stamina in mind and actively remind yourself to keep consumables in your inventory.

From Early Access To Its Full Release

Stairway Games’ journey towards a successful Coral Island full release began as a Kickstarter campaign back in February 2021. Within just two days, the game was fully funded as Stairway Games immediately headed to its stretch goals.

The Caverns located in the Eastern part of the Island. Players can mine in the area for stones and minerals.
The Caverns are located in the Eastern part of the Island. Players can mine in the area for stones and minerals.

In October 2022, Coral Island was released as Early Access on Steam. The Early Access, despite its bugs, was met with excitement from its early testers. This led to the Kickstarter campaign achieving more of its stretch goals and ultimately earning USD 1,639,368.

The game was officially released on November 14, 2023, for PC, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 5, with a port for Nintendo Switch yet to come. This review of Coral Island is based on the PC version, which is part of Microsoft’s PC Game Pass.

The Temple located in the lake. Player may submit various collectibles to restore the Island and unlock more of its mysteries.
The Temple is located in the lake. Players may submit various collectibles to restore the Island and unlock more of its mysteries.

There are still bugs, such as mid-game or loading screen crashes, tools disappearing, and furniture clipping during decoration. This can be game-breaking for some, but regular development updates are being posted on their official social media pages to reassure future players of more hotfixes and possible content to come.

Coral Island Review: The Final Verdict

At its core, Coral Island is still a charming farming game that can be a time sink. The unique setting and the advocacy present throughout the story make it distinct from other games because of its straightforward jabs into real-world problems. It strays from pure escapism but puts you in a position to reflect and create change in this world to preserve the environment. If seeing trash in the in-game ocean upsets you, what about our actual trash-ridden oceans?


Jem Sagcal

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