27 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 14.6 hrs on record
Posted: Feb 7, 2020 @ 6:50am
Product received for free

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Hollow Island is an indie open-world sandbox RPG with a focus on exploration and discovery. The game is released in full, but the developer is planning monthly updates that will be as free content updates, and not paid DLCs. (It's a one-man team.)

There is clearly work left to be done for this game, as the main map has sections that are currently inaccessible. But what is available does give you enough of the game to play with until the rest of the game is opened up. There are plenty of monsters to slay (with two bosses available), plenty of materials to collect, lots of things to craft, sets of armor and weapons to choose from, etc. Not to mention that you can buy land, build buildings, farm, forage, and more. Many underground caverns can also be dug out slowly to collect the resources hidden within.

It's a sandbox game with no quests, and I have mentioned to the developer (I did a bit of beta testing pre-release) that having content addition that have quests with rewards will be good for the longevity of the game. His idea is that in an open-world sandbox you should be able to do whatever you wish without restrictions. I agree completely, though having optional quests would make the game more enticing.

Currently there are just achievements to go after, and a couple of them would just take a long time to grind out. Otherwise I have seen and done everything else that the game has to offer up to this point, and I am definitely satisfied with my experience. The freedom to modify the world to your liking is really nice. The only thing you really cannot change is the preset terrain-type tiles that are set in place.

There is no "leveling-up" your character in this game, but in the surrounding regions you can find rune-inscripted stones that are single-time interactive objects each offering you a permanent boost in your max HP and energy. As for the other stats, you just have to try out different armor and gear to find out what works for you. So that grind is not there, but it does not mean that the game isn't grindy. It's actually really grindy, in terms of collecting resources, trying to manage some more precious materials and deciding what the best upgrades will be to suit your purposes. Some materials are so incredibly difficult to come by that I was hoarding for a while before actually putting them to use.

If you cannot decide if the game might be for you or not, look at the entirety of the 1:30 length trailer on Steam. It's not a bad representation of what is available in the game. Just keep in mind that there's really no story and no quests. You start on Hollow Island and you stay there, basically taking over the whole place one bit at a time--should you wish.

The dungeons are all single-level at this point and are all very short/small, so in that aspect, the game doesn't quite have the depth seen in many other similar games.

Keyboard and Mouse.

2D pixel art, the artwork is actually quite nice, in my opinion.

Very pleasant and soothing, though if you are going to be playing for many lengthy sessions, the tracks cycling may start to sound repetitive. Nevertheless, it sounds great.

Targeted audiences are ones who enjoy pixel art games that have an open-world sandbox component.

I am trying to think of the general scope of things in the game and I think the amount of content is worth the price. In addition, all of the planned free content updates that will be forthcoming would certainly justify the full price. I do think that with regions that are clearly inaccessible and being worked on, this game may have been more accurately advertised as an Early Access title with the planned content listed and a clear roadmap.

Areas to Improve
1. When you craft something, you cannot see what the stats will be. You know that by the tiers things will be better, but you don't know until you have crafted it and you have used up some potentially rare resources.
2. There seems to be a spike in difficulty going from the initial beginner monsters/goblins to the rest of the available monsters/enemies. More in-between would be nice. Once you completely upgrade your gear, it's reasonable to take on even the most difficult of enemies in this game.
3. Dungeon depth/content increases would be wonderful. The challenges within currently relies on the difficulty of the monsters that spawn. It would be great to have some puzzles built-in with solves for rewards. The dungeons are too small and have little substance. Mainly I was going just for resource collections
4. I would really like to move as I swipe my sword or fire a crossbow, but the game doesn't allow for this. The game has intentionally made it so that the basic melee weapons cannot attack multiple enemies at the same time. So with 2 or more enemies (and they stack sprites on top of each other) and I stand to swipe my sword, it hits and knocks back/stuns one, but the other one(s) walk right on through the sword animation deals damage to me. I just don't like the way this feels. (Problem solves once you get enough gold and silver to craft a gilded sword, but that takes a long time to get.)

Hollow Island is quite fun, but not for all audiences. Don't buy this if you do your best to avoid any kind of grinding. Also don't buy this if "Story-Driven" and "Quests" are must-haves for your gaming experience.

Do buy this and have fun with it, if you want to support a single-person indie developer who is very friendly and is actively working on making this game bigger and better.

For me, it was a weekend of pretty fun semi-involved exploring, gathering, crafting/building, and monster slaying and constantly trying to get enough materials to then upgrade more gear and craft more things. If that sounds like it might be for you, you are probably going to have some fun with this game.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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FruitNDoggie Feb 16, 2020 @ 7:45am 
Depending on how this game expands and the commitment of that single developer, this could be a great game.
YQMaoski Feb 7, 2020 @ 11:58pm 
Ragespy Feb 7, 2020 @ 7:23pm 
Awesome review. Gonna have to pick this up on my next payday. :D
YQMaoski Feb 7, 2020 @ 7:39am 
Thanks janner! I know what you mean though, I have been begging for some story component and game-driven quests, even if they are optional. We will see what happens in the long run. :D
janner66 Feb 7, 2020 @ 7:25am 
Great review. I prefer story quests although achievements are sort of quests.
YQMaoski Feb 7, 2020 @ 6:58am 
Thanks for reading, Kemo! :golden:
Kemo Feb 7, 2020 @ 6:53am 
Sounds pretty neat. Nice review YQ :thumbsup: