I Got Paid For This: Why Are the Coral Island Characters All Major Hotties???
Coral Island recently came out in Early Access on Steam and Game Pass, and it’s quickly become a sensation thanks to its Animal Crossing inspirations, Disney-esque art style and sugar sweet romance options.
See, while Coral Island is a laid-back farming sim at its core, many players agree that the true appeal of the game lies in the cast of characters you can date, marry and even have kids with. It’s all very Stardew Valley, except everyone’s drawn in a gorgeous Disney-Pixar art style and there are 25 romanceable characters. Every character looks unique, thanks in huge part to art director David Ardinaryas Lojaya, and this has led to players being, quite simply, thirsty for them.
Meet Our Bachelors and Bachelorettes
As a queer woman, the pool of characters I actually want to romance in video games is normally pretty small, but Coral Island is the exception to the rule. Instead, and maybe for the first time in a game, I can’t decide which tropical island hottie I want to sweep off their feet.
The hunk above is Rafael, the town’s sweet and quiet blacksmith. His brother Pablo is also a heartthrob who’s described as having “never been caught without a smile on his face”. Not since Hades have I been so attracted to a man in a video game. Lily is a programmer and easily the coolest person on the island with her round glasses and oversized sweaters. Yuki — loves tattoos, pastel hair and playing pool — has big lesbian energy while Wakuu has a silvery undercut and lives at the lighthouse. Aaliyah’s bio is still incomplete at the time of writing, but I can’t wait to learn more about her and why her favourite top has a spaceship insignia on the sleeve. Is she an astronaut? A NASA scientist? Does she just love space??
Coral Island is made by Stairway Games, a studio based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia with a “multinational team” of “artists, engineers, developers and more”. That diversity is reflected in the cast of characters. Lots of the island’s residents are POC, which isn’t intrinsically linked to attractiveness but does make the game more appealing to people who don’t often see themselves reflected in games, and inclusivity is hot.
Gender Is Fluid
Not only is every single Coral Island romanceable character hot, they’re also interested in players of any gender. The character creator isn’t complete yet, but it already lets you choose between three body types — one with feminine features, another with more masculine features and a third, more ambiguous body type — instead of picking a male or female character. Every hairstyle and facial feature is available to all three body types, and you can choose whether other characters call you Mr., Ms., Mx. or a custom honorific. (Although it would be nice if there was at least one non-binary dateable character)
Coral Island lets you be whoever you want to be, and date whoever you want to date, without demanding you define anything about your identity. So far in my time with the game, I haven’t come across any relationship that changes depending on your character. It’s not often a game lets you explore and express your sexuality so freely, and even less common when it does so without a wink and a nudge to remind you how inclusive it’s being.
Best Friends Forever
In addition to romance, you can also befriend the Coral Island characters, which is a special kind of relationship that games often ignore. To date a character, you first have to befriend them by checking in with them regularly and giving them gifts. The closer you become to a character, the more of their stories and dialogues you’ll hear.
The developers are still adding to the game during Early Access, and personally I want to see unique interactions with your character’s close friends. Even if I don’t date Alice, I want to sit on the pier talking about aliens with her, you know?
At this point, the only way Coral Island could be better is if it let you be friends with benefits with multiple characters.
The developers have confirmed that the game will be getting a multiplayer mode in the future, and that you’ll be able to marry other players who join your game. While that sounds very cute, I’m sorry but I simply won’t be romancing anyone in this game other than the characters the art team designed. Everyone is just so beautiful, kind and passionate about their life on the island — which is exactly how I’ve felt telling all my friends, and now you, about this cute farm sim game they have to play.
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