Anyone who knows me will attest that I have a bit of a soft spot for all things Pirate. I’m in the thousands of hours on Sea of Thieves, so when the chance came to review a new and different pirating game I was on it quicker than a real pirate climbs up to the crows nest!
King of Seas is a single player pirate adventure games from developer 3D Clouds, and published by Team 17 who have a great recent track record with unique and original indie releases. It tells the story of a deposed heir to the throne who has to turn to piracy to clear his/her name from a murderous accusation.
So, to start with King of Seas is pretty much nothing like the current fan favourite Sea Of Thieves, apart from its subject matter, but has a lot more in common with the pirate games of old such as Sid Meiers Pirates and Age of Booty. It certainly shares its style with these titles, as graphically we are in 3D isometric territory, and apart from a few pop-in wave texture issues, it all looks very pretty.
Gameplay wise, all the action is set onboard your ship, as you are tasked with completing missions, collecting treasure, trading, and of course sinking all the boats that you come across. When you do land on an island, all trading/etc is done via a menu system, so all the action really is just on the ship! Controls are pretty simple, with all movement on the left stick, the bumpers controlling
the boat speed through three levels (depicted as sails) and the triggers firing your left and right cannons. Once I got the hang of how the ship responded I was soon sinking the other boats with relative ease. These boats then dropped their treasure, a mixture of Gold, ship parts and items to trade. Of course these can either be used on your own ship to upgrade, or sold at one of the many ports for more gold which can then be spent to, yes you got it, upgrade the ship some more!
Your boat essentially has three main elements of “health”, those being your hull, sails and crew. Delving into some of the ship parts that you find, some will give your hull extra strength, or give other perks to cannons, but during the game I very much just focussed on ensuring I was equipping the most expensive items in each slot. Even after finishing the game I was still a bit confused about what some of the stats and perks actually did, especially those that were based around magic. I didn’t really need these or see any tangible benefit in using them. As you progress you also have access to special powers that are allocated across the ABXY buttons. These did make a difference in the later game, as they ranged from the delightfully named “Pee on the Cannons” that reduced cannon cooldown, to launching a decoy ship, or firing fire out of the bow. Used correctly these made you quite a formidable ship – so much so that the final battle was over in seconds.
Of course, being a story based action game, there is a main storyline, which can be ploughed through pretty quickly, but I soon found that taking the time to carry out side missions and dabble in an odd bit of trading was needed to make my ship more powerful. In fact, the trading element soon became worthless as you could gain gold much quicker by sinking the ships and selling the ship parts back to the carpenter. Using this method I soon had more gold than I knew what to do with, enough to purchase the best gear as soon as it was for sale. However, just when I thought I had the game all worked out, it did throw a bit of a curveball at me. As you approach the endgame it introduces a strategy management aspect, where you have the ability to take over a town/island and make it a pirate stronghold, which could then also be upgraded to give you better store prices, and more crew member to recruit. But just as I got into this I did the final battle and then the game was over. It did seem an afterthought that could have been introduced earlier on as you explored the world. In fact, exploring the world was one of my biggest criticisms of King of Seas. Finding a new island felt like an achievement but wasn’t rewarded with that island appearing on your map. Instead you had to sail around it a bit until you came across the cartographer who made you spend money to buy the map which allowed it to show up.
Of course, ship battles are the main element of King of Seas, and these are handled pretty well, with a lot of thought into how the ship handling and positioning will be the difference between a quick, successful battle, or a retreat to repair and re-crew. The same can’t be said about the base battles, as these are nothing but a long, laborious effort to circle the forts and towers whilst taking the odd, well-timed cannon shot that takes a smidgen of health away, whilst one direct hit from a tower cannon will nearly send your ship to the bottom of the ocean.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with King of Seas. The gameplay loop of earning gold to upgrade had me hooked, and the story missions were just varied enough to keep me playing. However, there were things that I didn’t enjoy. Dying meant a respawn at the original Pirate base, which meant a really long sail back to your objective. This is helped a little towards the end of the game when you have multiple bases to spawn from, but for the first 75% of the game it is annoying and time-consuming. A little tweaking to the gameplay – like introducing the base takeovers a lot earlier, would give a huge improvement. But overall it is a game well worth investing your time into, especially if you love all things Pirate!
King of Seas
King of Seas is a wonderful and quirky take on the pirate games of old, with a satisfying gameplay loop and beautiful looking scenery. Its no AAA Sea of Thieves, but will provide hours of fun for anyone with an interest in all things Pirate!
- Looks great and makes you wish you were holidaying in the sun!
- Gameplay loop of ship battles to upgrade your ship is just right
- Base "takeover" battles are poor
- Long sail times to resume game after you get sunk