We Are Castaways
Shipwrecking on a desert island isn’t just fun — it’s a downright party! At least, that’s the case in Castaway Party, a new game by Parallel Plaid. With a variety of modes and heaps of minigame action, this game sucks you in, round after round.
The core gameplay revolves around players participating in matches of four random minigames with desert island themes against other players online. Imagine Mario Party without the board sections. And on an island. These games range to everything from kart racing to collecting tokens falling from a giant pachinko machine. As of this writing, there are a few dozen games you could end up with. Parallel Plaid has even teased more content to come. Each minigame only lasts a minute or two, so play feels continuous and engaging — perfect for a casual mobile title.
Each minigame feels complete and fully fleshed out. Even more impressive than their enjoyable nature are the slick technical elements of the app. Usually, smaller studios with only a few titles under their belt will have very visible seams in their games — things that look like they need more work or patching. Castaway Party is tightly constructed with apparent effort to make as clean a product as possible.
The art style begs some originality, but models are crisp on a phone screen and embrace consistency. Minigame controls, despite variety in their types, always feel tight and intentional. In my time playing I never encountered any severe latency or glitches while going through matches. If an internet connection warning appears in the lobby, the game still connects to that same server. There are major console studios that aren’t able to implement that feature into their matchmaking. I very much look forward to what the folks at Parallel Plaid have for us down the line if they continue in this trend of top-to-bottom quality.
Launch Our Lifeboat
Following multiplayer trends, Castaway Party features a “Party Pass” in lieu of charging for content up-front. This provides players with unlockable access to new costumes, emotes and dances only available through the pass. Alternatively, you also earn tokens for ranking first in a minigame set that reveal loot boxes with such treasures. Unfortunately though, without the Party Pass you only receive a maximum of three per day, while boxes cost five to open.
Despite having to succumb to this model for the sake of profit, I never really felt pressure to push toward unlocks. The bulk of the game’s appeal is clearly in the variety and quality of the minigames, not the bonuses. Honestly, that makes for a much more comfortable, casual play setting. Seeing these kinds of extras can often feel overbearing in mobile titles with obnoxious and unexpected ads. On the contrary, this game stands in the former category, with unlocked items not actually affecting play (only aesthetic).
On an Island at Sea
Altogether, Castaway Party hits all the right notes on what matters in a party game. The ability to compete with other players online on an even playing field isn’t always featured in the genre. Microtransactional purchases often create frustrating pay-to-win experiences, something this game steers far clear from with its exclusively aesthetic-altering unlocks. With upcoming updates, I look forward to new content and minigames. Even until then, there is a lot of fun to be had on this desert island excursion.
Is It Hardcore?
Castaway Party does an excellent job at quite a number of things. The wide variety of minigames retains engagement, the technical quality of the games are tight and the available purchases stay relatively out of the way. It’s refreshing and fun to have something that doesn’t feel as much of a cash grab as it is a developer putting time and effort into developing a quality game.