Len's Island Preview: Hack & Build | Screen Rant

Len's Island is a dungeon crawler & simulation game developed and published by Flow Studios, which is in Early Access on Steam. It's still early days for Len's Island and the game is lacking some features, but the current version shows a lot of promise for the future, with its combination of hack & slash action alongside crafting & building making for a fun gameplay loop.

Len's Island begins with the player naming their island, designing Len (the protagonist) using some basic character creation options, and being sent out into the world. Len starts out on an island with nothing but a knife, a pickaxe, and an axe, with which to start their adventure. The player can gather resources from the trees, plants, and rock piles that litter the island, which can then be used to build houses and farms. There is a nearby town, where the player can buy and sell goods, as well as customize their character and play some minigames. If the player grows weary of building, then they can venture into the dungeons beneath the island to search for items, where they will also find hordes of shadow monsters, and the remnants of an ancient magic-using civilization.

Related: Surviving the Aftermath Review: An Entertaining City Builder Game

The current version of Len's Island lacks a tutorial, so the player has to work everything out for themselves. The map of the game is set, so if the player wants to start over, then all of the main locations will be in the same place. Len has a hunger meter that slowly depletes over time, and will start draining health when it empties. Building the initial shack with a bed and foraging for food are the first priorities, and the player has to gradually work everything out from there. It's not particularly intuitive, and Len's Island could use some pointers (such as the backpack item in the town being vital for upgrading the crafting bench). This isn't helped by the island and the dungeons being a little too big (or Len moving a little too slowly), leading to a fair bit of aimless wandering while trying to work out what is what.

The best aspect of Len's Island is its builder mode, which lets players easily craft and upgrade homes while decorating them with items. The interface is exceptional, making it easy to ascend/descend levels and place/remove items. Once some of the crafting tables have been unlocked, building a dream island home becomes a very real possibility. The building aspect is the highlight of Len's Island and it will be even better once more pieces are added to the game. The music of Len's Island is also worthy of praise, as it makes exploring the island a soothing experience.

It's possible (though difficult) to ignore the dungeon crawling aspect of Len's Island, for those who just want to focus on the building. As it stands, the combat in the game is basic and is tied to how the weapons work, rather than a skill system. The dungeons are a little too cavernous and the game badly needs a minimap to make the exploration a little less tedious. There are also jumping sections which are tricky to pull off, especially as the game currently lacks controller support. On the whole, the dungeon crawling is functional and has moments of fun, but it needs a bit of tightening up before it can match the construction part of the game. The overall experience is similar to that of Dragon Quest Builders 2, except without the world-ending threat in its story.

There are some aspects in which Len's Island is currently lacking, and one of them is multiplayer. This is a game that would benefit greatly from teaming up with friends to tackle dungeons, or allowing players to visit each other's islands and see everything they have built. The developers have said that co-op multiplayer is on the cards, but it's unclear when it will be added to the game. The other aspect in which the game could be improved is the NPCs, as they have almost no role in the game outside of basic quest givers and shop clerks. Len's Island would be greatly improved by Stardew Valley-style interactions with the residents of the island, even if it just results in unlocking new gear. As it stands, the adventure on Len's Island is a lonely one, which removes some of the incentive to engage with its world.

The Early Access version of Len's Island has a lot of potential. The crafting aspect of the game is fantastic and there's a lot of fun to be had just building dream homes on the island. The combat and dungeon exploration needs some work, but the game is still a few years away from its full release. As it stands, the Early Access build is still a lot of fun to play with and it's worth exploring Len's Island in its current state.

Next: Surviving the Aftermath: Beginner's Guide (Tips, Tricks, & Strategies)

Len's Island is available now in Early Access on Steam. Screen Rant was provided with a digital code for the purposes of this review.

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