Once in a while, you come upon a game that is so peculiar that it’s hard to explain just what it is. On the surface, Island of Insight is a sandbox adventure and puzzle-solving game, but at its core, it’s so much more. Let’s take a look at what the game has to offer, and why it left such a significant impression on me.
The Story of Island of Insight
Island of Insight takes a Dark Souls-esque approach to storytelling. The story is there and is present, however, it’s scattered around the world for you to discover. It’s not “in your face”, rather, it’s left for you to discover it at your own pace.
In short, here’s a spoiler-free rundown of the story. The world that you inhabit was created by The Auroral, a demiurge capable of bending reality and creating matter out of thin air. However, after its recent creation (the world you inhabit), its powers have waned and it needs you to run around this new world and solve puzzles for it.
Why an all-powerful entity struggles with solving simple puzzles is beyond me. Still, it’s a good enough setting to get you invested in the world. Not that the game needs a lot to draw you in mind you.
The presentation is simply breathtaking. I spent a good 10 minutes at the start just walking around and looking at the scenery. It’s a world that felt so alien to me, yet so familiar. It balances harmony and chaos on a fine line, leading to a whole whirlwind of emotions.
The Island (of Insight)
The Island of Insight isn’t a single island, more a loose conjunction of islands, each more wonderful than the last. Exploring these islands is a pure joy, especially after you gain your wings and unlock a few fast travel points.
Not that you’ll be using the fast travel points too often, I certainly didn’t. I preferred taking the scenic route each time. The vistas the island had to offer were simply too charming to pass up, or even worse, to ignore completely.
The island is teeming with familiar sights such as Hellenic collonades, Egyptian pyramids, and Chinese gazebos. But, on the other hand, it’s also brimming with unfamiliar sights such as mystical floating islands, alien plants, and a skybox that can only be described as heavenly.
Even though Island of Insight is a puzzle game, you can easily spend hours just exploring the Island without solving a single puzzle. Still, I have to mention the puzzles.
The Puzzles (There’s a Lot of Them)
Island of Insight has a tremendous amount of puzzles, some intuitive, others, definitively mind-boggling. One thing’s for sure though – my mind hasn’t had to work this hard since 2017!
Not that I’m complaining mind you. I enjoyed the rush that solving complex puzzles gave me. Some of the puzzles had me staring at the screen for a good 10 minutes, only for me to figure out the solution after having a eureka moment. The rush I experienced after those moments cannot be explained with simple words.
The game has dozens upon dozens of different puzzle types. From simple “connect all the cells” type puzzles, to visual puzzles, and even obstacle courses. There really is something for everyone. If you don’t like a specific puzzle type, you have hundreds of other puzzles to partake in instead.
What I Liked About The Game
In one word – freedom. The game gives you a tremendous amount of freedom. The only time you’re ever really constricted is the first half hour of the game when you’re going through the tutorial. Once you complete that, you’re completely free to do whatever you want from that point onward.
You can play the game as an exploration game. You can play the game as a puzzle game, or even as an educational tool. If you’re into that sort of stuff, you can even use the game as a meditational aide to help you unwind. The possibilities are endless!
Things I Disliked About the Game
Personally, I found nothing wrong with the game. However, I can see how some people might find absolute freedom offputting. If you want a curated experience, then I’m afraid this isn’t the game for you.
If you’re someone who adores puzzles, then this game is for you. Likewise, if you’re a parent looking for a good game to develop your child’s mind, this game is also for you. It’s not a game in the traditional sense, however, it’s an experience that’s undeniably wholesome. And that – that is something that we all need.
Will you be exploring the Island with a friend or solo? Let us know in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Islands of Insight. The key was provided by Behaviour Interactive.