You open your eyes. Sun, sand, and a shovel await you. At least it’s better than the ocean.
Grab that shovel – it’s time to get to work!
In Tiny Island Survival, an iOS and Android simulation title from Game Start, you’ll be tasked to not only survive on the island but thrive. You’ll wield an arsenal of tools to chop, mine, and dig your way through various obstacles, as well as make friends with NPCs to further your progress to uncover the mysteries of your new home.
The game itself is quite straightforward and actively encourages players to explore and discover things for themselves. However, forewarned is forearmed, and knowing what awaits you on the island’s surface level can accelerate your progress. If you’d like to explore the island’s depths faster and unravel its mysteries, read on for some tips, tricks and strategies!
The Surface: First Steps
- Use the shovel and dig up the small trees on the left to unlock NPCs. Trade materials with them for new tools.
- Chop up the right side of the island and talk to the old man to start monster spawns and the sword.
- Upgrade your axe and chop upwards from the old man to get the first metal mine. Prioritize mining from metal mines as there’s only one node each.
- Build fences to passively protect resources from monsters. It’s more important to defend the metal mines.
- Once you unlock the first metal mine, upgrade your tools as much as possible, and don’t venture deeper into the island yet.
- After pushing upgrades, chop left and up from the old man to the second ramp to get the second metal mine. Once again, upgrade as much as possible.
- Finally, chop and dig toward where the monsters are coming from.
- Always watch ads. They appear at the bottom right of the screen.
The first tool you’ll need to survive on this island is your shovel. Grab it from the bottom of the screen and use it to dig out the small trees on the left-hand side of your starting location.
Each tree you dig out produces a log. Once you get four logs, you can build a tent, which you’ll need to replenish your stamina (hearts). To replenish your stamina, tap on the tent and wait a bit. You can’t move the tent yet, so go ahead and set it up in the lower part of the island.
When that’s done, keep digging out trees until you clear the lower left side of the island – and yes, you need to dig out every single log.
You’ll know you’re done when two guys digging in the dirt appear. This heralds the arrival of a new resource, namely rocks. Luckily, your trusty shovel is still enough to pick them up, so go dig up four rocks.
When your rocks are ready, talk to the lower of the two people (the one with dark skin) – they’ll give you an axe for some logs and four rocks. Unless you’re satisfied with just digging up stones for all eternity, go and get the axe.
With your axe in hand, take down the big trees on the right side of your tent. This will unlock a new NPC that lets you trade coins for maximum hearts. And as luck would have it, you have 20 coins off the bat, so buy the extra heart as soon as you can. If you’d like to maximize your time and efforts here, note that buying a new heart container also fills up your empty hearts.
As an aside, resources on the island will begin respawning slowly, over time. These resources can be sold to the other person on the left side (with lighter skin) for some coins for even more extra stamina. You can also get more coins and resources from occasional ad opportunities, which appear in the lower right of the screen. Ads won’t hang around forever, so watch them whenever they pop up.
At this point, you have two options, and I’d strongly recommend getting the pickaxe first. Just like the axe, you get it from the dark-skinned person on the island’s left side, though do note that it’s a little more expensive than the axe.
When you’re good and ready, cut the trees above the gnomes on the right-hand side until you meet the old man. Speak to him to start monster spawning on the island.
These monsters – skeletons mostly – will make life a little more difficult for you. They’ll wander around and steal resources on the ground, and if you’re too close, they’ll hit you which will deplete some of your hearts. They’re also the reason I suggested getting the pickaxe first; the skeletons tend to prioritize stones on the left side, so use your pickaxe to break the big rocks near the old man – they’ll net you two resources too.
We’ll need to deal with these invaders. First, we need a sword from the old man so that we’re not defenseless when the skeletons come knocking. Second, we’ll need to build a fence to secure our side of the island. The sword allows you to automatically attack nearby enemies, while the fence will prevent skeletons from entering the area they block off, so they’ll walk to a resource node, realize they can’t get it and go home.
With our territory secured, it’s time to move up from our admittedly crappy stone tools. Continue cutting upwards from the old man and towards the slope. Remove all the trees and rocks in the area to unlock the metal mine, which gives you ingots that you can use to both create an anvil and upgrade your tools. Note that skeletons will also invade this area – build a fence as soon as you can to protect your hard-won iron.
Once you have 20 wood, 15 stone, and 3 ingots, head back to your camp and build the anvil. This facility lets you upgrade your tools at the cost of materials. Upgrades are pretty pricey, but they’re well worth the cost – not only do they open up new areas to explore, but also make harvesting more efficient. Because of their price though, it’s best to focus on the ones we absolutely need at this point. I strongly suggest leveling up your exploration/harvesting tools first, so get your axe to level 3, and your pickaxe and shovel to level 2.
Ingots are the first major chokepoint in Tiny Island Survival as there’s only one spot to gather them from. Not only do you have to deal with their respawn time, but you’ll also be competing with annoying skeletons who want to steal it for whatever skeletons do with ingots. Prioritize getting these ingots above wood and stone, and if you haven’t been watching ads for resources yet, I highly recommend doing so as they can give large amounts of ingots.
With your metal tools, you can immediately unlock a new route to where the skeletons are coming from. Do not do this. First off, you need level 3 tools to open that path, but there’s a better reason to avoid doing so: blue skeletons.
Blue skeletons are tougher than their normal kin, and – you probably guessed it – need a level two sword to be damaged at all. Worst of all, blue skeletons have an incredibly annoying habit of beelining toward your metal mine and require you to upgrade your walls to repel them. It’s a much better idea to put off dealing with them at all until all your tools are good and ready.
When you’re finally done with upgrading your gear to a satisfactory level (but all you really need is a level 3 axe), open the second ramp on the island, near the left side NPCs. This will trigger blue skeleton spawns if you haven’t already but will also reveal a mine that has better metals.
These metals are required to bring the rest of your gear up to speed, as well as get your axe to the maximum level. Like the regular ingots, there’s only one spawn point for this resource, so guard it jealously and prioritize mining metals above harvesting wood and stone. And yes, you will need both regular and upgraded metals to get to where the skeletons are coming from.
At this point, I suggest getting the axe to level 5 and the pickaxe and shovel to level 3. When you’re ready, use your shiny new implements of survival to cut your way to the smoke cloud at the end of the island and see the source of the skeleton threat.
Yes, the skeletons (and now the goblins) have a ramshackle yet better house, compared to your tent. Oh well. Time to see where they’re coming from!
Enter The Dungeon
- Go to the down arrow to leave the house.
- A level 3 pickaxe is required to open the dungeon.
- Each floor has monsters and possibly pots (breakable via pickaxe).
- You don’t spend hearts in the dungeon, but if you get knocked out, you lose half your money.
- Kite to avoid damage – tap the screen as soon as your guy finishes his attack animation. Upgrade your sword as much as possible.
- You will need to walk back to the surface. In addition, each floor refreshes when you visit it – meaning you can jump between floors to farm bones and pots.
Before anything else, you need to know how to leave the house and dungeon. To exit the house, go to the down arrow to leave.
Breaking open the house’s cellar will reveal the dungeon, which will likely be your main source of income for whatever comes next. The dungeon features 20 floors of both monsters and pots – the former will try to knock you out to impede your progress, while the latter can be broken with a pickaxe to get a random assortment of resources.
While this may seem like the usual gameplay loop of “hit things to get resources to build things to hit things”, there are two core differences. First, breaking stuff in the dungeon doesn’t cost hearts. Secondly, getting your hearts depleted to zero via monster attacks will lead to a game over – you’ll be sent back to your tent and lose half your gold.
The best way to navigate the dungeon is either avoiding fights entirely or kiting to avoid damage. In the latter case, what you want to do is stop to attack, then immediately move so that enemy attacks don’t hit you. This has a two-fold purpose: not only do you not get hit but moving just as the attack animation ends also triggers your next attack much sooner than the cooldown would allow. And as your attack is an AOE, mastering the rhythm and timing of kiting will allow you to clear floors with ease – especially if you’ve been upgrading your sword.
The deeper you go in the dungeon, the better the rewards, and the tougher the mobs. Slimes on the first few floors can be dispatched in a single hit with a level 5 sword, providing an excellent way to farm the bones you’ll need to take your gear to the next level. At the same time, break the pots to gather metal faster – you’ll need a lot of the stuff. Pots, like monsters, require stronger tools the deeper you go, so keep your pickaxe up to speed.
Don’t be too greedy in your dungeon dives, though. As there isn’t a way to quickly return from the dungeon, you’ll need to retrace your steps to leave, and monsters respawn every time the screen is refreshed. This sounds like a bad thing, and it is if you aren’t ready, but wily adventurers can take advantage of this to quickly shuffle between floors to rack up monster kills and get the bones you’ll need to take your gear to the next level.
Who knows what lurks at the end of the dungeon? What new riches and opportunities await explorers brave enough to plumb its depths and face off against the monsters? Onwards, intrepid adventurers; transform this island from a shelter into a home.
That wraps up my Tiny Island Survival beginner’s guide, and I hope I was able to smoothen your transition to new gameplay elements smoother. If you have anything to add or have any corrections to make, make yourself heard in the comment area!