The early access version of Coral Island was amazing enough, and now the full release is even better! A comforting and cathartic experience, this last weekend has seen me catching up with the game, going from the carefree days of spring to the long hot summer.
Sadly, I couldn't continue my progress from the Early Access version of the game. I had made memories with the coins I had earned and the characters that I had met during that journey and I wasn't going to just delete that save file. Even so, I know it is there on my hard drive and I'm proud of the progress I made in that version of the game. Now let's see what the full version has in store for new players!
From city to farm
Coral Island is a farming simulator in the same genre as Stardew Valley and Terraria. You appear as a former business executive coming from Pokyo, seeking a change in life by reviving an abandoned farm. With the power of farming, foraging, and fishing, you can fend off a corporation hellbent on turning Starlet Town into its latest oil drilling project. Time is of the essence, as Pufferfish Corporation has its eyes set firmly on the town's dwindling profits.
Of course, you can do more than seek the honest work of farm life, which involves a lot of tropical fruit if you play your cards right. You can also parlay with the gods and goddesses of the island, fight monsters within barricaded mines, and seek the depths of every ocean. I admit that the ocean clean-up is the part that I like best.
With the power of farming, foraging, and fishing, you can fend off a corporation hellbent on turning Starlet Town into its latest oil drilling project.
The game not only has a story and message but also plenty of choices. Players can decide to join a farming festival or a ranch festival and if you wish for romance, plenty of people on the island are up for that. I preferred to deliver gifts to a grumpy cook named Jim, who remembers when the island was better.
One added benefit is that if you build up enough relationship points with people, which the game notes with hearts, they may send gifts. The gifts are useful for fulfilling quests or even having something good to eat while battling monsters or cleaning the ocean. Betty's mooncakes are darling, and I hope to make them in real life now that I have a kitchen.
My fishing obsession
I fully admit that the quests to please the goddess are capturing my attention the most. The goddess exists in a temple in the town lake; if you make enough offerings to her, then she will allow you to teleport around the island. Helping her will also assist the island with rebuilding.
To please the goddess, you need to do more than farm. You need to provide her with certain fish and insects to fulfil her requests. As a result, you need to get out of that fishing pole and brave the water in various places. The hard part is that some of the fish refuse to bite at the times when you want them to appear. Catfish remain elusive, as do the silver-star koi that the goddess demands. I have been fishing nonstop for several days in a row, and these fish are still not biting. It took sheer dumb luck with dumpster diving to find a catfish.
It seems like fulfilling the quests is going to take a while, and I hope to eventually fulfil them because it is quite hard to find the critters. Some other players have mentioned that it may be an issue of luck. I do need to upgrade my fishing gear to see what impact that has, but it is going to require a bit more patience.
Of butterfly nets and skittish fireflies
Bug catching also still eludes me. No matter how hard I click, some fireflies refuse to sit still. I wouldn't blame them, but they are necessary for completing a quest. The game mechanics ignore when I'm right behind them and should be able to catch them easily. That may be more of an issue with my skill than one with the game's design, so each player's mileage may vary with this and other mechanics.
Still, I'm learning. It helps that the Coral Island Discord has players who are emotionally invested in helping everyone succeed. I've gotten better at bug-catching and fishing. Traps will be next.
I'm still learning as the seasons pass, and I hope I can make enough friends with the town's inhabitants. Every time an orchid grows the day after their request for one expires, I feel so guilty that I seek them out to gift them the orchid. It's nice to make people happy and to help couples solve their disputes. Also, it's easier to talk with NPCs that like you and are rooting for you to succeed with farming. The wholesome qualities make me want to hug everyone in town, grumps and all.
Coral Island has been a lot of fun and provided much-needed joy this holiday season. This town needs me as much as I need it. I find it a healing journey to bring a giant home back to life.
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