During its wildly successful run on Kickstarter, an upcoming indie farming simulator called Coral Island has accrued over $1.6 million in just 30 days, setting it up to be a popular installment into a crowded genre.
While it doesn't quite make the list of most successful Kickstarter campaigns for video games, Coral Island's numbers are certainly nothing short of unexpectedly significant. Starting at a modest funding goal of $70,000 for Stairway's debut title, most backers saw impressive graphics and wholesome gameplay and pledged the base amount of $20 to get the game, while tens of thousands of other gamers were excited enough to pledge more for the early alpha version. Coral Island was fully funded in the first 36 hours.
Following the indie farming sim's early stretch goals such as seasonal NPC outfits, minigames, and bug catching, Coral Island continued to gain momentum and eventually, the developers needed to add more goals as the Kickstarter continued to rise in popularity. This resulted in highly requested stretch goals becoming easily surpassed, including a merfolk underwater village and, later on, the option to romance 2 of the NPCs from this village.
After surpassing the $1.25 million milestone on Kickstarter, the indie farming sim will now support post-launch content in the form of island hopping, where players can "build a ship and travel to different islands for even more stories." Perhaps this means that Coral Island will support further updates in the future.
Inspired by the classics like Story of Seasons and Harvest Moon, Coral Island includes everything farming sim fans look forward to: a sandbox farm, a wide variety of romanceable characters complete with LGBTQIA+ support, and a hint of fantasy.
The farming sim genre has been a crowded category lately, with both Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town and Harvest Moon: One World coming up next month and Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin having released at the end of last year, not to mention the many farming sims that have had great success on Kickstarter recently, such as the upcoming Ova Magica and Coral Island, easily surpassing several funding milestones.
But with Coral Island, Ova Magica, and even the Story of Seasons franchise that these farming simulators drew inspiration from, they amplify one major problem with the genre: they all tend to be various versions of the same experience. But Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin changes it up and offers a unique experience that isn't just more of the same Harvest Moon-inspired story.
Most games in the farming sim genre tend to follow the same format: players are tasked with raising crops and livestock and selling the products for money while romancing a villager, eventually leading to raising a family on the farm. This trend started long with the original Story of Seasons games, originally named Harvest Moon. The early Story of Seasons games were the most successful, which inspired Eric Barone to create Stardew Valley, hoping to replicate the feeling that old Story of Seasons titles gave players.
Since Stardew Valley, a number of other indie farming sims have cropped up, such as Ooblets, Ova Magica, Kynseed, and so many more. Not all of them have this in common, but more often than not, these titles are the same mechanics—farming, raising livestock, romancing—but in the developer's preferred art style. Of course, each game has its own charm that sets it apart from the rest, and regardless, gamers in the farming sim community eat it up. But each time the same format is recycled into another game, the format grows redundant. This is what makes Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin so special.
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