ISLANDERS: The Relaxing Minamalist City Builder

ISLANDERS video game
You call that an island?

Strategy games like Sim City, Factorio, and Dungeon Keeper require a deep level of thinking and time commitment. If you’re looking for something a tad more accessible, GrizzlyGame’s chilled out offering is very possibly for you.


The German studio is apologetic in its marketing – it’s cute. As you can hear in the trailer, the guy explains you can watch it see whether it’s for you. On YouTube, the team also states:

"If you’re thinking about buying ISLANDERS please keep in mind that we are a very passionate but small team of three. This is not a blockbuster experience with hours and hours of content. What we’d like to offer you is a simple game that lets anybody create and explore their own little worlds, while providing enough depth for players who want to challenge themselves. And you can get it at the price of a medium sized pumpkin spice matcha caramel latte."

All of which makes for a refreshing change from the USP-peddling, big business bullshit of so many other studios in the marketing materials. “OUR PRODUCT IS AMAZEBALLS! BUY IT! NOW!” etc. etc.

As marketers ourselves, businesses need to remember you don’t have to force yourself on people with obnoxious advertising. The strength of a product alone is often enough.

To prove our point, the positive word of surrounding this charming little game has shoved it into the indie game community limelight.

ISLANDERS launched on Steam last week and, at a mere £4, it’s a must buy. A real pick up and play city builder, you arrive immediately at cute little islands and start to build.

Minimalism is very much the name of the game here. Unlike other strategy games, where relentless resource management is brought to the fore, the complex core elements of resourcing materials and labouriously developing your community doesn’t happen.

So you don’t get anywhere the full length and breadth of options as the full-blown strategy games, but that’s very much the point. It’s more about high scores here.

What you do is look to place a selection of buildings around on a procedurally generated island. Where you place them generates points, but you have to factor in each type of building to ensure you place it correctly to develop your score.

To complete a stage, you need to meet a certain points criteria. To hit that, it’s much more than a case of dumping your buildings wherever to get a high score. Strategic thought is important, as are basic mathematical skills.

But to pretend it’s a proper hardcore strategy game is stupid. This is primarily about relaxation. It’s a stripped back strategy game. It’s charming, calming, and in its simplicity a little bit special.

On a final note, and thankfully, the team did start to show off a bit once the strong reviews started to flow in. Huzzah!


    • Yes, one does have to choose rather carefully does one these days. Islanders is, at least, a game you can drop in and out of for 10-20 minute spells.

      You don’t get any of the full-on resource management, which is where the likes of Factorio really start to overwhelm your time.

      I spent the weekend on Dungeon Keeper and that’s another one that’s overwhelming. I went to bed and dreamt of orcs, pots of gold, and despicable antics. So this week I’ll drop in and out of Islanders. Very enjoyable!


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