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Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands Game Poster Image
Farm, cook, and explore in repetitive castaway adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game focuses on overcoming obstacles and survival in rough circumstances. There's also a strong sense of community, with your crew members helping out when and where they can while you also fulfill tasks that help them out as needed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are light-hearted and caring, and are willing to lend a hand when possible. But the characters also lack much in the way of any depth. The player's a helpful and determined person, working constantly for the welfare of their father, their crew, and others in need.

Ease of Play

The gameplay's very simplistic, sometimes to a fault, with button mashing for combat and farming in cycle patterns. Cooking food can be frustrating as the game wants specific ingredients in a specific pattern. And exploring, a major component, is usually a tedious walk down convoluted paths, which seem artificially inflated to drain your energy gauge.

Violence & Scariness

There's some combat at certain points, in which players use swords to attack ghostly pirates and other enemies. Damage is represented with flashy effects, but no blood or gore is shown. 

Language

The word "damn" occasionally pops up in dialogue.

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands is an open-world farming adventure available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. Players find themselves and their crew shipwrecked on a deserted island, and must explore their surroundings, collect resources, and manage small farms to survive. The gameplay's simple, and is designed for gamers of all ages to be able to pick up and play, although some mechanics can frustrate players with its repetitive nature. There's some occasional combat, but the violence is relatively tame, with no blood or graphic imagery.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

STRANDED SAILS: EXPLORERS OF THE CURSED ISLANDS begins with players as a part of the crew on their father's ship, which is on a voyage to a distant land. Things take a disastrous turn though, when a sudden storm strikes the ship, causing it to wreck on the shores of a mysterious string of islands. Stranded and low on resources, you create a camp for yourself and your fellow shipmates, building a farm, raising crops, and cooking up food to keep everyone going. Meanwhile, you'll also need to explore the islands, searching for missing crew members, collecting materials to rebuild your ship, and uncover clues to the mystery that caused you to crash here in the first place.

Is it any good?

Just because you're shipwrecked on a deserted island with no rescue in sight, that's no reason not to take in the sights and do a little homesteading at the same time. At least, that's the idea behind the island farming adventure, Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands. Despite the dire circumstances that players are dropped into, being shipwrecked on a mysterious island with your father bedridden due to injuries and your crew scattered about, the game is surprisingly light-hearted. The island's bright and colorful, and the character designs are cute and happy. It feels less like a test of survival and more like a cheerful vacation. Unfortunately, there are some frustrating gameplay issues that keep the waters choppy in this seafaring adventure, making a player's sailing anything but smooth.

While the simplified gameplay is meant to be one of Stranded Sails' biggest draws for younger players, it's also the proverbial albatross around the game's neck. Exploration's little more than running long, winding paths back and forth, not leaving much room for actual exploration. While running out of energy doesn't have any permanent repercussions, it's irritating to collapse from exhaustion and have to start a long trek all over again just because you took a left turn instead of a right. Cooking's another exercise in frustration as recipes require specific ingredients to be used in a specific order, but without any real direction. As recipes get more complex with more ingredients, so do the number of possible combinations to fail. As for the farming, it quickly becomes a monotonous routine that just passes the time. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's also just going through the motions. In spite of this, Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands still has plenty of fun moments that can deliver a good sense of accomplishment, particularly for younger gamers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about growing and harvesting crops. How important is farming to our daily lives? What are some things you might be able to grow on your own in your house or yard (herbs, vegetables, etc.)?

  • What are some skills that would be useful to have in an emergency? What are some ways people can come together as a community in the aftermath of a disaster?

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