Moonstone Island is a life simulator, creature collecting, and deckbuilding game developed by Studio Supersoft and published by Raw Fury. It somehow combines Pokémon, Slay the Spire, and Stardew Valley into one neat little package, so let's see how Moonstone Island fares.
The game starts off with you at your parents' home, where tomorrow you'll be off on your grand adventure. The tutorial is pretty quick, nothing too special, but it is serviceable and it'll make you miss your parents once you leave. After the (surprisingly long) world generation, you'll crash onto the titular island, lose all your stuff, and pass out because it's nearly 2 AM. Don't worry, one of the townsfolk will help you back on your feet, give you back your items, and then you can be on your way to become a great Alchemist.
However, you’re not gonna get anywhere fast without farming. Once you choose a location to put down your house, which is very cool by the way, you’ll be busy setting up your farm. It’s pretty standard, all things considered, but at least the progression is actually quite nice. I managed to unlock the crafting recipe for sprinklers early, which made the farming process so much easier to deal with. Seriously, there is a magic wand that lets you exchange stamina to hasten the growth of crops and it really helps finish off them once the next season rolls around. I didn’t feel that pressure, so that’s a win in my book.
And what better way to enjoy the extra free time than by spending it around town? Bonding with people is also pretty standard. You can talk to them, give gifts, and once you have high enough affinity, you can ask them out on a date. Now, you can only talk to someone three times per day, and your chances of gaining affinity is based on the type of dialogue you choose: talk, joke, and flirt. It's a decently done system, but I don't like relying on chance to improve my bond. I cannot tell you how many times I only lowered someone's affinity just by talking to them, but those odds can be improved with certain Spirit abilities and skills. Still, it is really shocking that everyone in Moonstone Island is a potential love interest. That’s a lot of choices, and I have to admit, a lot of them are damn cute.
However, you won't just be spending time around town. You’ll need to explore uncharted territories and dive into dungeons, and sometimes, you'll need to fight the Spirits that inhabit the lands… through card games! Spirits are both your pets and your only line of defence against their untamed brethren. Each tamed Spirit comes with its own selection of cards that will be shuffled into a deck at the start of the battle. Your goal in each fight is to either tame the Spirit by feeding them items or "banish" them. It's a lot easier said than done, though. Every Spirit has Armour alongside HP. While you can directly damage their HP, reducing their Armour to zero (either by using Bash cards or exploiting a weakness) will stun them, stopping whatever attack they may use that turn and taking additional damage for two turns. However, in that stunned state, they cannot be fed items so you can't tame them. It can also happen to your own Spirits so watch out.
Levelling up Spirits will not only improve their stats but also add better cards to their deck for you to use. There are also these special arches that allow you to remove a card from their deck, upgrade a card, or add a rare card. Even the early parts of the game will make you think about your team set-ups and how each Spirit synergies with the other, especially when you haven't unlocked the Spirit Barn yet and you're restricted to only three Spirits out of the 66 available in the game.
You also improve throughout the game, as once you’ve done enough in a certain area to earn a skill point, you’ll be able to spend it on unlocking a skill when you go to sleep. You’ll earn skill points just by doing the associated action. Farming will allow you to progress in the Farming tree, talking to people will help you in the Social tree etc. I didn’t like that, as far as I’m aware, there is literally nothing telling you how close you are to levelling up a certain skill tree. No progression bars, or a number of how many times you must do X thing. It’s a little annoying, but it does serve as a nice surprise at the end of each day.
Onto technical performance. I didn’t really run into many glitches, although there was a treasure map I couldn’t pick up for some reason. It does have some inconsistent performance. I checked the system requirements and my PC passes it with flying colours, so why am I getting below 30 FPS sometimes? It's still very much playable, but I expected better optimisation. For my general gripes, I found the tool wheel a little finicky. I do like how it allows my tools to be always with me and not take up inventory space, but needing to shuffle my tools so I could access stuff like my warp whistle or the medallion that allows me to manage my Spirits is annoying. Speaking of Spirits, I wish the Spirit Barn was unlocked earlier. I didn’t like how long I was restricted to three Spirits. However, these are my only issues, and they seem so small in comparison to what I’ve experienced.
Simply put, Moonstone Island is really good. The game is technically beaten on Day 112 — or one in-game year — but that is not nearly enough time to do everything. Thankfully, you can continue playing afterwards which is great because I wanted to. It's the type of game that's really easy to fall into and lose hours. I love pretty much every aspect of the game, and the issues I’ve brought up could just be because I was on a pre-release version and most of them will be fixed on launch, or that I misunderstood the underlying design decisions. Plus, you can save anywhere at any time, which is a godsend. I can stop playing whenever I want instead of having to play through the rest of the day if I want to make the most of my time. I cannot recommend this enough, especially if you want something different from Pokémon, Slay the Spire, or Stardew Valley.
Moonstone Island is out now and is available on Steam (it’s also Steam Deck compatible!), with a Nintendo Switch version coming out at a later date.
Moonstone Island (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Moonstone Island is an excellent game that combines what I like from other games and improves on them. Whatever your path may be, it’ll be a fun one.