From the minute you hop on your broom and float into Moonstone Island, it captivates you. It’s a brilliant blend of calming elements — like different kinds of environments on each island, relationships to grow, crafting to create your own home aesthetic, farming, and fishing — and action with quests, spirits to collect and level through battle, and dungeons to raid. For me, it was as if playing a Pokemon video game was similar to playing with the cards sprinkled with hints of the dungeon days of Zelda and a touch of any cozy game you could love.
Moonstone Island Designs
The maps in Moonstone Island are all procedurally generated so there are many different combinations of Island layouts you could have. The island you begin on has other nearby islands to fly to, each with its own biome. The look of each type of biome is so different and even goes so far as to change up the spirits you’ll find there. I loved how you could really tell there was a shift in the type of land you’ll be discovering next just from a few seconds of hopping into the next island. Each has its own bright colors and special touches that give it just the right vibe for the type of area it is.
The creatures you’ll stumble upon as you’re exploring are called spirits. I found myself getting more and more excited each time I saw a new spirit. They’re cute and funny, and they all have move sets in battle that make sense with the type of spirit they are. I have yet to see two that are alike in looks. Whatever your preferred aesthetic is for your team of creatures, you’re sure to find it.
Speaking of aesthetics, the magical decor available for your tent and eventually your Alchemist’s Home are whimsical, beautiful, and creative. The team really did a great job with making the decor fit the overall feel of the game and bringing in the classic moon and stars elements, keeping you in that feeling of wonder.
Similar to Pokemon games, as you explore you’ll see random spirits appear. You can choose to fight them or run from them. Occasionally you’ll run into one and find out it’s actually more, sometimes as all different spirits. However, where it differs is in the way you battle. Normally, I don’t enjoy doing battles through cards where your options are changing all the time, but I think the visuals you get with it in Moonstone Island make it way more enjoyable. It was a bit of a learning curve to figure out the best ways to build the decks and how to apply the talismans that can either remove, upgrade, or add a card, but after a few battles with a new spirit, I found you begin to notice what you like and don’t like.
There are many quests to go on through your journey on Moonstone Island and lots of things to look for while you explore. What I found frustrating about this was how difficult it was to tell which quests would provide you with rewards that would push the story forward and which were more side quests. There were the obvious big ones, but there were also some that seemed like they weren’t as important and yet they played a critical role in getting your player an item necessary for moving on.
Most quests in Moonstone Island also come with very little guidance. You get a lot of stories on why each person would like their request completed, but not as much on the steps to achieving these goals or the benefit of doing so. I prefer when a game breaks it down at least a little bit and gives me an idea of the direction I’m supposed to be going with a task. For example, one of the first quests you get, Mythical Fish, asks you to collect specific fish from different areas but doesn’t give you anything to guide you on where these types of islands might be or what to do to get a higher level fish. The lack of tutorials throughout is a recurring pain point, but for some may also be a part of the fun of the game.
Much more like real life, relationships in Moonstone Island develop slowly over time — almost too slowly. You’re able to chat with someone three times a day by default and can choose to just chat, to joke, or to flirt with decreasing chances of success on each. If you fail, it takes points away from your relationship with that character and the hearts are not easy to fill. On the bright side, you can ask for a date at any point and whether or not they’ll accept is simply up to chance. There is still the trusty method of bringing your love a gift to improve your relationship as well, assuming they like what you gave them.
While the dates provide a little more insight into each character, I do wish the chats, jokes, and flirting had their own dialogue lines. Instead, you just pick an option and either see pink hearts for success or grey for failure along with the number it builds or hurts your relationship points. It would be nice if this was a mechanic for giving you insight into what the person likes. Before my first date with Ofelia, we had talked several times with many successful attempts at chatting, joking, and flirting, giving me up to 8 points per interaction with not nearly as many failures. After my date with Ofelia, I had earned 107 points for a response I gave during our date and still only had half a heart earned out of eight.
Final Thoughts on Moonstone Island
Overall, I’d say this is a unique game where with a few small tweaks, or maybe just a little getting used to, it’s likely to be a top pick in cozy games for me. There’s a definite learning curve that may be considered part of the fun for a certain type of player. It allows you to unfold as you go and learn the game in your own way and at your own pace. But, it brings in a lot of elements from top favorite titles across the gaming community and blends them pretty well. At this point, I’m only about halfway through the game, but I’d say so far Moonstone Island has earned a 3.5 out of 5 for me, and I can’t wait to keep playing.