More times than not, it is very difficult to make a game that stands out in the action-platformer genre. Eagle Island tries really hard to separate itself from the pack and actually does an admirable job in their attempts.
Eagle Island: The Land of Lost Friends
This journey begins as you join Quill and his two owls, Koji and Ichiro, at sea when suddenly a raging storm appears and leaves the players shipwrecked on an island unknown to the lost little boy. Now if you pause right there and think back to a certain game series you may recall the similarities between this game and Link’s Awakening in their opening sequence. This island is guarded by an eagle named Amraura, a bird that loves to ruffle up some feathers by kidnapping birds from others and holding them hostage. And what does this bird do when Quill arrives? It kidnaps Ichiro, leaving Quill and his feathered companion to rescue these birds from captivity.
The game’s story is delivered primarily by characters dialogue in the form of text boxes within the hub-world and a few at the end of specific levels. There is also a bit of visual story-telling within the environment and some rather impactful instances of in-game scenes that are noteworthy. The game’s narrative is rather minimal with the focus being on the gameplay. However, the limited story does provide solid objectives, some light plot twists, and some emotionally impactful scenes that are entertaining enough to hold the story together.
During my first bout of combat, I thought “poor bird must have a skull of steel”. You attack with your bird aiming in one of eight directions and releasing to shoot from your hand to hit the target. Quill’s arsenal of solo moves consists simply of running, jumping, and the occasional ledge grab – keeping to its classic 16-bit inspirations. To further build upon this mechanic there is also a combo system which is exceedingly satisfying when performed correctly. When a hit is successful your owl will return to you almost immediately allowing for you to quickly follow up with another attack. If you land four of these attacks in quick succession you will be rewarded with a heart piece, which you will most definitely need in order to overcome many of the challenging levels. Also, at the completion of a level, you receive powers and attack upgrades for your feathery friend that aide in beating down enemies. Three abilities you can earn through progression are lightning strikes, a combustion attack which explodes on contact, and a mystery attack. In some levels, there is the option to ride in a minecart throughout the stage, reminiscence of Donkey Kong Country. Which brings another level of complexity to the game. For example, as you’re on the cart, you still need to attack the enemies but you have to think 3 steps ahead and prepare your bird ahead of time to attack.
Simply put, wow. First off, the attention to all the little details is a defining factor in how Eagle Island stands out. You can tell so much time went into making sure Eagle Island would look as stunning as possible in any angle or lighting. For instance, when you walk past a hanging lantern, it swings as if you actually bumped into it. The foreground and background complement each stage, in some stages, there is the ocean in the background. Well, it actually mimics an ocean that you or I have been to in the instance where to the waves crash against the rocks and the ocean spray comes into the foreground. Now that is some detailing. The soundtrack in this game is sub-par at best though. The music is just standard peaceful piano music. It’s soothing and that is about it. The graphics definitely make up for the lack of memorable tunes.
In this Metroidvania/roguelike Frankenstein masterpiece, players can enjoy the game how they want to. Whether it be with the official seeds or with the procedurally generated levels throughout your playthrough. There is a hub world that has a level selection menu that leads to the individual levels, giving this game a high replayability factor. Each level has a fast travel option which was helpful when not wanting to walk all the way back.
Throughout the game, you will run into time-sensitive puzzles in which you have to time your attack with your bird perfectly in order to unlock doors or secret entrances. There are three gameplay modes: Core, hardcore, and casual. Core rules start you off with 3 hp, 4x combos drop a heart and challenging gameplay. Hardcore rules start you with 3 hp, 6x combos drop a heart, auto collects seeds and coins during combos and less extra heart runestones. And casual Rules start you off with 6hp, blue chests contain hearts, more frequent drops, cheaper prices at stores, and the toucan trader stays. In the stage, you may come across colored treasure chests. In these, you will pay a small fee and you can obtain a small upgrade for you or your bird to aid you in the level.
In the settings menu, you are able to change the way the game looks. The player can choose between pixel, sharp, soft, and CRT. There’s also the option to turn on aim assist to help get those much-needed precision shots in the harder levels. This game also has an accessibility option. You can change both the visuals and the controls, giving many options to make the game enjoyable for everyone. From dimming the backdrop to outlining the characters and reducing screen shake or flashing, you can make your playthrough as comfortable as the player may want it.
Overall, if you are looking for a new game to play that has a fresh take on the rouge-like platforming style, this game definitely stands on its own. I highly recommend giving Eagle Island a try. This game is just fantastic. From the lush graphics and tight controls to the beautiful attention to detail. The gameplay is perfect for players of all kinds, from new and seasoned alike.
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch Platform. A copy of Eagle Island was provided for review.
If you are looking for a new game to play that has a fresh take on the rouge-like platforming style, Eagle Island definitely stands on its own. I highly recommend giving Eagle Island a try. This game is just fantastic. From the lush graphics and tight controls to the beautiful attention to detail. The gameplay is perfect for players of all kinds, from new and seasoned alike.
Owner and leader of the Sick Critic YouTube Channel