IGMC Review: Cope Island

in Games

Game: Cope Island by zDS

Summary: A strangely moving experience, Cope Island is a well-executed adventure that challenges RPG Maker conventional wisdom.


2014 IGMC Winner – Best RPG (3rd Place)!

This game proves you can do a lot with a little. Of all the IGMC winners, the one that raised the most eyebrows among active members of the RPG Maker community was Cope Island. The screenshots showed very basic maps with a lot of empty space and even the default font and windowskin! In a world where all games must be judged by their visuals, how could this possibly win? Because it was a game contest, not an art contest. After playing it, it’s clear that this little gem earned its place by treating the judges to a great concept and a fantastic battle system.

The game is moodier than you would expect from a game made entirely from default assets. You’re forced to name your character, which personalizes the story immediately. As you wander around the strange island and talk with unusually nice NPCs who are eerily determined to make you comfortable, the mysterious mood of the whole place is tangible. Probably the most important contributor to this atmosphere is the beautiful ambient music, composed by the game’s creator. Honestly, most of the game is ambiance. The story is intentionally simple – the protagonist finds himself on Cope Island and wanders around, training for a battle against his inner demon.

cope2 Okay, but if anyone offers me Kool-Aid, I’m not taking it.

By the time you get to the surreal scene before the final boss fight, the game becomes oddly moving. With that in mind, the very end is something of a disappointment. If I had one complaint about this game, it’s that some NPCs lead you to believe that little choices you make (such as breaking down doors or walking around them) could have an impact down the road but that didn’t seem to be the case. Given that the game is clearly trying to be a personal experience for the player, not having more detailed consequences for your actions feels like a missed opportunity. As with all these IGMC entries, however, we’ve got to take the month-long time period of the contest into consideration.

The battle system appears simple at first glance but once you get past the first few fights, it becomes increasingly clear how much thought and effort went into it. You can either attack with your fists or with a weapon. To restore your HP, you can either go with the weaker bare-handed attack or “standby” for a turn. Seems basic, but before long your character will be able to perform two, and later three, actions each turn. This leads to increasingly sophisticated strategy during the fights and it’s a great deal of fun.


I do NOT remember this being one of the 12 steps.

The player must collect three trinkets to proceed to the final boss. While you can do this any order you like, one NPC warns you that there is “no easy path.” This is because the enemies level up with you. You’ll be grateful for the three actions per turn once you get near the end, although I should say that the game is pretty well balanced and using sound strategy will also get you a victory. Your reward is not money but “score,” which is tallied throughout  and can unlock a few goodies during the game. All in all, Cope Island is a good example of a developer being aware of time restraints and focusing exclusively on what he could do well. I especially recommend this one to users new to RPG Maker. You can learn a great deal.

So who played this game? How was your final score? How did you feel about the strange experience your avatar had on Cope Island? Tell us in the comments!

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