Mutiny Island (2019)
Disclaimer: I received this game for free from the developer.
It's been a good month for me, games-wise, and yet I've had less time to play indies since I've been focusing on some classic titles. I also just picked up Luigi's Mansion 3, so I did my best to take a break from that to write this. I decided to jump back in with a new release that was sent to me just recently, assuming it wouldn't be a very long game. Mutiny Island is a pixel-style open-world RPG where you play a pirate on a mission to retake their ship, the Red Dawn.
Mutiny Island starts off with a cutscene that shows the protagonist getting exiled from his own ship, as their crew turns against him in mutiny. It's not completely clear why, but they seem to have lost faith in your leadership. You wash up off on a small island, fittingly called Mutiny Island. There's a few other outcasts on this island, along with small monsters and some resources. Just as you were thrown on your ship, you're also thrown into survival mode without any instructions. It's easy to pick up items just by walking around, so you'll quickly end up with a weapon, even it's just a wooden stick. Pretty much everything you need to move forward is on this island, however: you'll lose almost everything you have when you die, and often times those same items won't be on the island anymore afterwards. As the game progresses, you'll get more bits of backstory via "dreams" that the protagonist has. I liked this little addition, as I felt starting off that I didn't understand my character's motivations or history.
When I started up Mutiny Island, the style and indie-ness of it made me think perhaps it would play best on keyboard. However, with no guidance on what key does what, I spent a while stumbling around. The keyboard controls are absolutely wonky (attack is on "W" key), so the game is definitely meant to be played on gamepad. I realized later it lets you remap your gamepad buttons for it (which is a good accidental tutorial to figure out controls in this game). It's fine that it's made to be played on gamepad, I'm just confused as to why the keyboard option is almost ruled only by how unintuitive the mapping is.
Although you start off on a very small island, Mutiny Island actually contains a pretty large world that you can see by checking your ocean map. It's a world made up of islands, so they all have to be reached by ship or raft as you can't swim for very long without drowning. These islands have vast resources, towns, monsters, and characters. Unfortunately, I didn't get to explore as much of this as I would've wanted to within my initial hours of playing. I died a lot, thankfully less so once I began to understand how to craft the right items and which monsters to avoid for now. There's occasional "tips" or other information given to the player through some flashing red messages on the right side of the screen, but they fade away so quickly and the text is already hard to read, so they of much help when I was in the middle of something.
Now, obviously no one likes losing progress, but for me it is incredibly frustrating and never feels worthwhile. I'm taken back to my childhood days of forgetting to save and losing hours of playtime. I wouldn't necessarily call this game a rouge-like, but it's pretty easy to die and when you do, you end up with no items and back on Mutiny Island (until you make a home elsewhere). It's a little too punishing for my taste, but that's because I'm very impatient and rarely play games such as this one. For this reason, I wouldn't call the difficulty itself a weakness. The only problem with the high difficulty is that you're not given a very thorough tutorial on how to make the most of your resources and scrap by in the beginning. I ended up starting my game over since I realized I had exhausted most of my resources and then died, making them lost forever. In my new game, I ended up getting a lot further and exploring more of the world. Yet, there again I died unexpectedly without being able to store my items first. My saltiness keeps me from immediately returning to the game after that happening, but I do want to pick it up again and attempt to get further.
A lot of these sea-faring folks talk like "pirates", which is always fun and charming. However, the overall dialogue is speckled with bad grammar and spelling, making me wonder what parts are on purposely written badly and which ones are errors. Occasional bugs in movement and in character dialogue. Nowhere on the screen does it display how much gold I have? Also, there's no actual "exit game" option anywhere on your game menu. After fiddling around in the menu I realized if you click "options" then cancel, you get asked if you'd like to quit the game. So, I guess that's there, just not where it should be.
Mutiny Island appeals to me in how just about anything you see is interact-able, and almost everything is holding an item for you. It makes it worthwhile to explore every square, which I enjoy doing. It took me too long to notice this, though, ignoring crates on my first run as I thought they were just obstacles. Crafting is satisfying to use and is well explained, I was able to make the items I needed fairly easily. It's just strange that cooking doesn't work in the same way and you don't get to pick which item you want to cook, and also at stores you don't really pick what item you want to sell.
Mutiny Island is a successful at creating a challenging open-world game as a true pirate, with colorful pixel style and sprites. From what I can tell, a lot of time can be put into this game to truly explore the full world and regain your ship. Unfortunately, the unforgiving gameplay doesn't work well to my interests, and I spent too much time figuring out basic things that were not introduced to me by the game. If you enjoy this style of RPG and are in for a strategic challenge, with perhaps many hours of gameplay, I do recommend it - I do find there are still a lot of bugs and rough edges, but none that game-breaking.
Mutiny Island is available on PC.
Played on: PC
Last Played: 10/31/2019
Playtime: 3 hrs