I've been playing Luca Redwood's latest release, Infinity Island, for almost a week now, and I'm a little perplexed. The mind behind innovative, premium titles like 10000000 and Photographs put out an idle game fueled by ads and in-app purchases that is remarkable mostly by how pedestrian it is.
In it, you collect little pets on a cartoonish desert island by launching a hook out to sea to retrieve boxes of loot. These pets produce currency automatically that you can use to purchase various upgrades, almost all of which serve to help you produce currency faster. At various points throughout the game, you can also opt to watch ads to double your rewards or make in app purchases to accelerate your progress. If you ever reach a state where progression seems to plateau, the game offers to reset (or "Infinity") your island and allow you to spend some other currency to accelerate your progression rate on the new island.
If you've played a few idle games before, this should all sound entirely familiar. You rack up large numbers of resources only to spend them all in order to rack up larger numbers of resources more quickly. There's no hidden tricks here, or even unexplored mechanics or systems applied to this formula. Collecting and leveling critters is akin to the party-building of Idle Champions and the hook-launching gameplay is like a flatter version of Ridiculous Fishing or even BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner on Apple Arcade.
Outside of collecting sets of critters and making your currencies rise by increasing orders of magnitude, there's just not a whole lot to it, even for an idle game. There have been titles like Universal Paperclips or SPACEPLAN that challenge the form or take it to new heights, but as far as I'm seeing in Infinity Island, there's nothing like that going on. Your interactions with the game become almost immediately rote, and very little additional context or meaning is given to your actions.
Of course, all of this is fine. Infinity Island doesn't need to be special or have some hidden depth to it somewhere. It just feels like it should considering it is an Eighty-Eight Games release. This is a strange feeling to have because Infinity Island would honestly feel like a nice surprise coming from a developer with no pedigree due to some good pacing and fairly tolerable free-to-play design, but those qualities alone don't place a game in the same league as You Must Build a Boat.
These thoughts and feelings are what consume me while playing Infinity Island, and they informed my decision not to review the game. I truly find the mismatch in my expectations (which were setup by previous releases) the most fascinating thing about the game, and putting a score on that doesn't feel quite right. So instead I'm writing this piece, and you're reading it. Maybe Eighty-Eight Games isn't a known quantity to you and you're having a great time with Infinity Island. If that's true, I say congratulations! And then I'll say to get your fill of it before checking out their other releases (and doing so will also make this whole piece make more sense to you).
Or, maybe I'm just wrong. What if I keep playing Infinity Island and realize the error of my ways? It's not exactly capturing my attention, but continuing to plink away at it is also easy enough to do. Maybe it does take an unexpected turn that I haven't seen yet, or maybe things will eventually click into place and I fall in love with it. If things do, I'll be sure to issue an update. Until then, I guess I'm going to infinity, and beyond.