Castaway Paradise is an addictive Animal Crossing-esque title that sees you steadily develop a tropical island. You'll farm, fish, craft, build, and even invest in order to make your little slice of paradise flourish, and a sunny, relaxing atmosphere makes the whole thing a treat for those seeking a laid back but engaging experience on PlayStation 4.
The key to the compulsiveness of Castaway Paradise is that it's always handing you something to do. Much of the title operates through timers: it may take an hour for your newly plated tree to grow and bear fruit, for example, or you might have to wait a few minutes for your freshly planted flower patch to bloom. At first, these timers may seem stifling, but before long, you're filling the gaps with other activities.
And so every little chore, every little task and objective, becomes a cog in gradually expanding machine. You're always busy doing something, and completing quests given to you by the island's anthropomorphic inhabitants nets you better and better rewards -- more effective tools that in turn allow you to make more efficient use of your time.
It's this steady progression that keeps you hooked throughout, and extras like online leaderboards add some flavour to proceedings. You can compare the size of fish that you've caught with your friends, for instance, and it's not long before you're setting personal goals for yourself. Naturally, decorating your home as you like plays an important part, as does customising your character with various outfits.
As alluded, Castaway Paradise can quite easily keep you glued to your controller for hours at a time, but it does lose some of its lustre once you've managed to build and upgrade the main parts of the island. It took us around 20 or so hours to get to that point, and afterwards, you're relying on slightly more freeform activities to keep you occupied, alongside jobs that the game dishes out on a daily basis.
Still, there's a lot to like about the release if you're looking to take a break from the more taxing titles in your PS4 collection. Sure, the menus can be a little finicky and it's a shame that there's no day and night cycle, but again, it's hard to pull yourself away from your lovely little island when you've got seeds to sow and money to grow.
Castaway Paradise is one of PS4's more pleasant experiences, offering a tropical vacation that'll keep you busy for hours on end. Although the game's addictive qualities do wane over time, the process of steadily expanding and improving your island is both relaxing and satisfying.