Diamonds are a Players best Friend
Sonar Islands Review ; by ; Hannibal.
The long awaited review. That no one asked for, and which I didn’t know I was reviewing until a few days before this came out, on a game I had never heard of until a week or so ago.
I blame Smoke for this review. Even though I had already downloaded the game before he asked if I would like to review it.
I might have reviewed it anyway, but chances are I would have forgotten about it and it wouldn’t have happened. But here we are…
Finally for anyone reading this who has attacked me. Stop stealing my gold!
About the Game
Sonar Islands is played in two phases. First the building up of your island and then the attacking of other players.
A basic tutorial will help guide you through the mechanics and what you can expect on each of the islands then it is time to play.
Game Play: Island Building
The first thing you must do and will need to continue to work on as you progress is building your islands.
This is done entirely through swiping through the menus and tapping on what you wish to upgrade.
The first thing you must unlock is a chest. your island must have at least 1 chest on it and this will get you gold over time.
Each island can have up to 3 chests and each of these can be up graded to hold more and build gold faster.
Once you have at least 1 chest you can start building protections on your island.
Each island has 2 methods of protection each of which like the chests can be up graded over time.
Each up grade gets you a certain amount of XP which will allow you to level up. Leveling up allows you to gain access to more up grades and more islands.
Up grades require 2 things. Gold and time. Gold you get by letting your chests fill up or attacking other players. Time you get by waiting or buying diamonds (More on diamonds in the payment section).
While you only start with a single island. As you level up you can unlock and up grade several more islands.
If all of this sounds a little boring…that is because it is. This is resource management at an extremely basic level.
However this game does have a second element which is slightly more interesting.
Game Play: Attacking
So this part of the game was what interested me the most going in. Attacking other players.
When you attack you need 2 things. First an attack. you get one of these every 30 minutes and you can build up 5. Secondly you need gold, The amount of gold will increase as your level goes up.
When you select attack you will be shown a person to attack. You can see how much you could steal and what defenses they have up. You can continue with the attack or spend more gold to pick a different person.
Once you have started an attack you have just 3 minutes to get to the chest or chests and back to the exit.
I will explain more about how you get the chests in the controls section.
The main two things to remember about the attacks is you must get at least 1 chest for it to be successful and you have to reach the exit point before you run out of time. Failing either of these will mean you leave with nothing.
This becomes more difficult the more defenses a player has. The defenses vary along with how to avoid them. Some like the snakes on the first island just need to be avoided by going around or backing up. The rock falls can be avoided by putting up your shield.
This means different defenses are harder to get around then others. They also can slow you down which makes getting to the chests and out in time can be harder.
However it also should be noted there doesn’t seem to be any real down side other then time lost in hitting these traps. They just move you slightly back but your still in and playing.
Finding a balance between amount of traps and how much you can steal is the trick to a successful attack.
So in the menus the controls are simple, swiping and tapping will get you through all that.
The controls get more interesting when you start an attack.
To walk around you tap in the middle of the screen to walk forward and swipe down to move backwards.
Swiping and holding left or right will turn. The game says you can just swipe left or right to turn and holding will turn you faster. but swiping alone didn’t seem to do much for me.
Swiping up will activate different defenses such as shields on the first island and torches on the second.
1 finger hold on the middle of the screen will bring up your compass. This is how you find the chests and the exit on the islands.
When you have brought up your compass you can turn the same way as walking. Note you can’t move while in compass mode.
When you are facing in roughly the right direction for a chest the beeping sound will get faster, the faster it is the close to the right direction you are facing.
The Morse code sound on the compass indicates the exit. When you have all the chests, or at least one and want to finish you head that way.
The compass, walking forward and back and the activating extras all work just fine.
Sadly this is all let down a little by the turning. While it works and getting used to it was a little tricky, it does seem a little unreliable.
Some times when to close to a snake I tried to turn only to find it wasn’t turning me and I would get bit.
Backing up a few steps to give yourself more time worked so it isn’t too bad, and as I got used to it I find I could do it better, But still it doesn’t always seem to be ideal.
However all the other controls seem to work fine so I can’t complain too much about them.
I honestly don’t have much to say for the sounds. Sure some are a little dumb like the huffing lions who sound like they are going to fuck you not eat you.
But over all they are well balanced and you can tell what they are meant to be.
Not quite sure why a chest is a wind chimes sound. But on the other hand a chest just sitting there wouldn’t make a sound so hey.
The ambiance at least for the islands I have visited so far also seem pretty good.
So far I have written mostly about the way the game works, but I also want to expand more on my opinions of the game.
I honestly had never heard of this game before playing it. a friend asked me about it, so I downloaded it, and played through the tutorial. The following day Smoke asked me if I would like to review it for the blog, so I played it some more.
The more I played the more I liked the concept of the game. Sure the island building is basic, and I would like to see a little more in the way of actually building up your islands, But I am a sucker for resource management.
The attacking was actually fun and I enjoyed the challenges and the time limit…at least for a little while. It did start to feel repetitive after a little bit, and this became a big issue for me. Sure this game has some good stuff, But it is either super basic or only interesting for a short while.
But Hannibal surely that isn’t to much of a problem. You could just play it from time to time and when you get bored stop playing.
Payments and collectibles.
See my first big bullshit button is pressed because this is a subscription based game.
Sure if this game was under 10 dollars I would tell you it was worth it, but it isn’t. It is subscription based and you are paying a couple of dollars a month for it.
They do offer a yearly subscription too, but at 40 Australian dollars that is a fucking joke!
I wouldn’t pay that for this game outright, so to casually play it for a year is not going to happen.
Before you say but Hannibal how else would they make money. Micro transactions with in the game?
Guess what they have those as well.
Enter diamonds. Thought this game was pay to play. Well it is but it also happens to fall smack in to the pay to win category.
For some more cold hard cash…well not cash because its online, but for more money you can buy diamonds.
Diamonds can be used to cut waiting time down to 0 or if you don’t have enough gold to do something just use some diamonds.
That is right. The game based around resource management can be completely skewed by just paying money.
As this is a multi player game based around getting gold and waiting for things to be built The idea you can just pay money to avoid that seems absolutely insane!
Bugs and other complaints
Everyone hates bugs in games. They ruin the experience. But when a game has a significant bug my suggestion would be to not put it out.
So when some one said they had the game crash on them I was a little concerned. When it happened to me while I was attacking I got a little pissed.
As I said above you only get a certain amount of attacks so if the game crashes while you are attacking someone that is one of your attacks lost. Not to mention some gold.
When this happened to me 3 attacks in a row I was about ready to put my phone through the wall.
I was wasting gold and attacks and getting nothing from it. If this was user error I could live with it. But the game crashing just pissed me off!
The other issue I have is loading time. This game can some times take 10 to 15 seconds to load, And starting an attack could take several seconds as well. Sure I have no where else to be, But this seems a little ridiculous when I have no such loading issues with anything else on my phone.
Rating and Final Thoughts
I would love to tell you this game has a fantastic concept and works well. I would love to say you should all go get it and play it. I would also love to tell you that I had a grate time reviewing it.
But it isn’t, you shouldn’t and I didn’t.
Good concepts are let down by pore execution. Time based systems are ruined by being able to avoid them just by paying, and casual games are made much less fun with monthly subscriptions, and massive bugs just ruin everything.
If it was just 1 of the above I might have considered giving the game a better score. But too much lets it down.
2.5 out of 10.
Did I miss anything. Have you played and want to agree or disagree with anything I said. Feel free to reach out on Twitter or leave a comment below.
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