A Buggy Grind, but Captivating and Challenging!
I have a love/hate relationship with likwidgames. Used to be mostly hate. I thought "Ultimate Tactics" wasn't very good due to bugs and pacing, but even that game is prettier than most. Castaway 2 is no exception, a significant improvement over its prior incarnation and the company's previous releases. It features great depth balance with simplicity and stunning aesthetics for a flash game, but has some aggravating issues that suggest a lack of polish. The designer hopes to flush those aside with patches and leave us with a satisfying, memorable adventure game. It comes close as is.
In "Castaway 2", the player's nameless champion awakens upon a deserted island with no memories and only his wits and resourcefulness to gird him against a nightmarish monster infestation and the strange magics that still reside on the isle. He happens upon strange feminine statues that speak to him and believe he is late... over 3,000 years late by the number of days they've counted. With little hope of rescue, he must brave the Isle of the Titans and its mysteries.
While venturing through the island, he can tame a monster and attain much-needed combat assistance. Navigation is done in a top-down perspective, with an automap that not only lists exits and hostiles in green and red, but also items and even mineral veins necessary for the game's simple craft system. The player must collect items, merge them together, and create new gear. This could conceivably omit the need to purchase gear from vendors, except in a few cases. Enemy designs get larger and tougher, but most are not openly aggressive until attacked. Play your cards with your creature right (the first one you get will do; even flier enemies cannot travel over obstacles like water) and you can play tag-team on single targets until they're vanquished. There is no "wrong" manner of allotting skill points to the character after leveling up, although a warrior-centered character will shrewdly take the skills on the far left and far right. The game automatically saves when you enter a new area and the inn can let you save up to three slots to computer memory. There are many extermination missions and plenty of tasks revolving around the new craft mechanics, but the latter has some kinks.
In fact, there are a few good grievances with Castaway 2. When you start to collect items, it's almost impossible to tell how things fit together or in what amount. This devolves into endless hours wasted on tinkering with countless variations and combinations of artifacts, or lugging them around in the hopes that some day they become useful (most players will raise strength after level-up just to be able to carry it all!). At least the game keeps track of the winning or useful combinations upon figuring them out; the player has to keep track of the useless combinations so as not to duplicate past errors. Tedious. Rote learning can quickly eat away at the fun here. Some players might want a walk-through just for the craft system alone.
Another issue is the pet system. You only need one pet throughout the entire game--the one you find getting bullied. Due to the speed at which the creature levels up with you, it outpaces the levels of everything else. Unless there are differences in statistics, passive skills, or added effects while attacking, pursuing the pet system any further than the first pet is optional to the point of being superfluous. Sinkhole for time you never get back.
A savvy player will notice bugs. I noticed two. First: trying to create new objects with the craft function. It sometimes freezes up after several attempts, becoming unresponsive to controls and clicks. Blows all the time spent on actual creations you have to recreate. Second: sometimes, keys stick or become unresponsive on the field. Both bugs, the former especially, caused me to reconsider how much time I would invest in playing, or even the vote!
Despite these concerns, it is beautiful, handles well, and doesn't bog down too much, as advertised. Past the bugs, I see a great flash game!