When you first think of survival games, you don’t exactly picture a getaway island and a life of selling flowers and fruits. Instead, you’d think of slaying monsters in dingy caves and crafting weapons to your heart’s desire. Flow Studio’s Len’s Island offers you both worlds, but it’s missing a lot of what would make it the best of it.
The Island Life
You start off on the aquamarine seas of your island where you’ve docked your tiny makeshift raft. You’ve got little to yourself; the clothes on your back, a sleeping mat, an ax, a pickaxe, and a knife. All you’ll need to survive out in the woods on your own. Once you start swinging around your tools in the wild, you’ll start gathering materials you’ll need to start building a tiny shack of a house.
Soon enough, you’ll discover the joys of farming once you build a tiny farmland from your resources. Strangely enough, instead of planting seeds, you’ll be growing your crops from whatever berries or flowers you forage on the island, or whatever other produce you find as you progress through the game. Once they’re fully grown, you can sell them for some good coin.
After roaming around on the island for long enough, you’ll eventually find the entrance to the caves. Of course, there are monsters that will attack you so you do need to keep tabs on not just your health bar, but also your hunger. You’ll need resources from both the land as well as the caves to expand your house, build larger structures like a fireplace or a windmill, and also to craft better armor and weapons. From there on out, the island’s your oyster. There's a ton of options to choose from when building your dream house, so the designer in me could build away to my heart's desire.
The island is pretty much an open world for you to explore as long as its seas stretch. You’ll also earn your money mostly from the crops you grow and the resources you find, and that can be used to get better weapons, armor, or even to play a game of Blackjack. There’s a lot of things going on in Len’s Island aside from just making it from one day to the next, so it’s not enough to call it just a survival game.
Can Someone Lens Me A Hand?
It takes elements from both Minecraft and Stardew Valley with its mining, building, and farming. It also has a dash of Breath of the Wild in its open-world aspect, gouache painting-like visuals and soft piano keys and ambient nature sounds in the background. That being said, it misses one big thing that made all of these games riveting to play, and that’s a definite end goal. Len’s Island gives you a lot of freedom of choice, but there is a thing as too much freedom.
In the beginning, I had a lot of fun exploring every nook and cranny of the island and slashing my knife back and forth to pick every berry I could find, but that initial excitement fizzles out really quickly when you don’t have a directive of what to do. I wasn’t really ticking off a list of things to do, or preparing myself for a huge final boss, or uncovering new bits of the story. Heck, there isn’t even a map to guide you around the island (luckily, we made one for you instead).
I thought the game would really get rolling once you unlocked the town that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from your island, but I couldn’t have been more underwhelmed. For starters, the NPCs are the blandest fill-ins for townsfolk, and they won’t really say anything to you beyond a hello before asking you if you’d like to buy or sell something. Most of them are just an outlet for that. I was hoping for any of them to have some sort of side-quest for me to undertake or really, any sort of lore that they could fill me in on what I was supposed to achieve here, but I was just met with their hollow smiles.
I’d like to give Len’s Island a bit of leeway at the moment and hope that these things will later be fixed in the future as it’s still in Early Access. The game has plenty of potential, as I found myself absolutely enjoying the first few hours and building away to my heart’s desire, but as it stands, it’s lacking a lot of substance and needs a direction to steer its players.
TechRaptor previewed Len's Island on PC using a copy provided by the developer.