Preview: King of Seas

Pirate games are rare these days, and outside of Microsoft’s Sea of Thieves, there really aren’t many great pirate-themed swashbuckling games to play, especially on consoles anyway. Black Flag does not count, even though it’s basically a pirate game, but at this point who is really playing it? Exactly.

So, 3DCloud is here with a brand new pirate-themed game and it’s King of Seas, and I’ve played a bit of it, and I’m going to share my thoughts on the early demo – and I must stress, it is a very early demo as the game is still some way out from release – and let you know what I made of it.

King of Seas opens with a simple tutorial and the revelation that this is a top-down isometric adventure. It’s not a big bombastic AAA explosion ridden affair, but a much more casual and somewhat relaxed kind of game. Easy to step into, then, and with some very simple controls, it took me no time to get my ship riding the waves.

You get to pick your own character at the start and you’re given the choice between a male or female hero, and the story simply changes the character model and name during the cartoony dialogue that provides exposition. I normally look at such “cut-scenes” with derision, as they’re typically cheap and poorly done, at least in my recent experience. King of Seas managed to sway me a little bit with its cheeky humour and the cartoony graphics for these moments. It’s not perfect and I’ll always take spoken dialogue over text dialogue, but in this instance, I was happy enough. It helps, too, that after the first mission where you are cast out from society and saved by pirates, your mentor is a Willy Nelson looking pirate. I was reminded a little bit of my favourite pirate-themed game series, the Monkey Island games. Not from the gameplay, but from the general humour and whimsy throughout the dialogue.

So, the actual gameplay then. There’s more too it than I expect. I didn’t go into this one with any prior knowledge, just a couple of quick articles that I’d written for Pure PlayStation. My knowledge was essentially zero, and so it was a surprise when I learned that there’s an economy in the game, and it plays a substantial role, I think. I can’t be sure because I wasn’t able to get too far in this demo, but an early mission had me going to an island to buy some wood, and within the market were other valuable goodies and resources to buy. I imagine that the further in the story you go, the more this opens up. The game does mention that not every port offers the same price, so shopping around whether you’re buying or selling will be an important part of running a good pirate business.

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The general gameplay was fairly slow and measured. Getting around is easy and there’s a map you can refer to by clicking the right stick on your pad. The problem I had, though, is that I was constantly referring to this in-menu map to make sure I was going the right way. I’d have preferred an on-screen icon or mini-map, to be honest, and maybe there is something I’ve missed, but I didn’t like how often I was clicking the stick to check my bearings. Again, these are early days and there’s plenty of time before the game releases, so this, along with other things, could change.

Combat is a tough one. I’m not sure where I stand with it. I like the familiarity of it; it feels like the Assassin’s Creed games, except with the camera pulled way back, and I don’t mind that. What I didn’t like was the lack of feedback to my actions. You fire from the left side of your hull with the left trigger and the right side with the right trigger. Simple enough, but there’s no aiming icon or even just a little line to show the direction in which the cannonballs will fly. This could well be a design choice by the developers to make the game a little tougher and to force you to measure your shots, but I missed far more than I hit, and as a player, you never really want to feel like a failure. You could put this down to me being shite at the game, or maybe this is another thing that will be tweaked before release.

I’ve come away from my short-lived King of Seas adventure not particularly impressed, but not unimpressed either. It feels like King of Seas will be a decent enough game that’ll pull in a bit of interest because of its setting, but I’ll really need to spend a lot more time with the game before I can really pass any kind of judgement. Sometimes that’s the way these things go. I’ve done previews in the past that totally sold me on a game within minutes and others that turned me off within seconds. But, occasionally, there’ll come a game that I just can’t decide on, and that’s why we have proper reviews.

Disclaimer: This preview was carried out using PC code provided by the publisher, and the game is still in development and the content shown in this preview may change upon release.

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