2021 Indie Games Week 14: Tiny Islands

This week I revisited the minimalist strategy masterpiece Tiny Islands. I can’t say how many times I’ve revisited Tiny Islands the last couple years, I just keep coming back. It is the perfect game to play on a long zoom call. It’s perfect for when you want to relax. It’s perfect to take short breaks during work. It hits so many spots because it has such an incredible balance within its mechanics — it’s just complex enough to require a bit of focus, but so streamlined and both visually and mechanically clear you will, within a couple games, have a deep innate understanding of it.

Tiny Islands is pretty simple. You place icons onto a map — each icon has a rule, a house likes being around things but not other houses. A church likes being near houses, but it doesn’t like sharing an island with other churches. Beaches must be on the shore. Forests get more points when they’re next to each other. There’s only a few more rules but all these rules are so aesthetically clear and philosophically logical that they click into your brain with ease. With limited space allowed for each icon you put down, you draw the border of an island a third of the way through, two thirds, and at the end of the game. It’s simple. It works flawlessly. It is a game I could revisit forever.

If you haven’t checked out Tiny Islands it’s free on itch. Play in your browser and bookmark it because if you’re into strategy games, you will be coming back.

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