On the outside, Islanders: Console Edition seems like just another take on the city building genre, but within a single minute, it's clear there's more here than meets the eye. Instead of making your islands as pretty as possible, there's a surprisingly in-depth puzzle experience to sink your teeth into, which is equal parts relaxing and stimulating. While the translation to console doesn't always work, it's a wonderful little title, perfect for breaking up those gaming sessions.
Instead of being bombarded with tutorials, Islanders introduces all of its mechanics within the first few clicks, leaving you to experiment and play. What it basically boils down to is strategically building settlements on various islands and earning points in the process. You'll be rewarded for how close certain buildings are to one another, or where they're placed on the land itself. For example, a watermill will earn you more points if placed by the sea.
What transpires is a Tetris style puzzle based around your placement. A handy message in the top right will also alert you to how many points you can earn, allowing you to carefully figure out the best course of action. As you earn more points, you unlock new settlements and it's not long before the island is oversaturated with the small civilization you've built. You'll have to meet goals to earn more building blocks, and failing to do so will result in a game over screen. It turns into an addictive loop of attempting to beat your high score.
You'll also unlock more and more islands throughout each run, constantly expanding your empire across several pieces of land. If the puzzle element proves to be too intense for you, there's also a lovely sandbox mode to settle into, allowing you to craft the islands of your dreams. However, it doesn't always work and the console iteration of the game can be fairly cumbersome in certain situations. Placements can be hard to circumnavigate, whilst the camera isn't as intuitive as you may perhaps hope it to be.
Islanders doesn't necessarily reinvent the wheel and may have a few control issues, but it still provides a hugely enjoyable time that's always there to dive into between other games. It also has a very enticing price point of £4.19 / $4.99. The game has quickly become a perfect title to wind down with when extended sessions of Splitgate have aggravated us or the intense subject matter of Lost Judgment has become too much. If you’re looking for something to break up your gaming life, Islanders: Console Edition is a fantastic choice.