Arr, ye be wanting to be the King Of Seas, be ya? If I didn’t start a review of a pirate game without a stereotype, I’d be doing a disservice to dads everywhere, wouldn’t I? You don’t care?! Shame!
King of Seas is the latest swashbuckler from 3D Clouds, and old Vulgs was invited aboard with share an hour or two with the crew. An hour or two was quite specific as this preview had a timer plastered at the top of the screen: once it was up, it was game over (and subsequent playthrough number three).
To say I enjoyed my time as a mighty pirate would be accurate – this was a lot of fun but was gutted by the time restriction as it’s one of those games where time shouldn’t matter. Speaking of time, let’s get on with it.
King Of Seas Early Access Review
For those experimenting with dangerous waters for the first time, King of Seas could potentially be Wuss of Seas as you can choose from four difficulties: Ship’s Boy, Gunner, Captain and Corsair, a challenging mode where you sail of a ship made of RAM.
There are two characters to choose from: Marylou and Lucky. They’re both destined to succeed the crown (their old man is the King), but both are different from one another. Marylou wants a parrot, and Lucky is trigger happy. I want a parrot too, so I mostly played with Marylou.
After setting sail to do a menial task to prove your worth, word reaches you that the King has been killed by some voodoo trickery and you’re being framed as the killer. Upon your return, the late King’s right-hand man, Captain Henry, meets you outside the port and sinks you, leaving you for dead.
Fortunately, pirate Captain Morgen is in the area and sees that you’re floating around the wreckage and rescues you. Nobody can know that you’re alive, so he takes you aboard and returns you to their Libertatia/Nassau equivalent to train you up in piracy. Go grab the blank discs and get copying.
I’m Marylou/Lucky, Mighty Pirate
Seeing your potential, Morgen gives you your first task in a little schooner to take command of. If you succeed in your mission, you get to keep it and the crew. Forget that, we’ve got limited gameplay time so let’s explore!
The controls are as easy as peas. Three speeds can be applied to your ship by switching out the sails, and you can either pay attention to the wind or be stubborn and go against it. Regardless, the starting vessel and controls are very agile, so it’s a breeze (haaaarrrr!) to play.
Combat is simple enough. You have two-directional cannons – left and right, but if you progress fast enough, you can unlock abilities that are associated with your crew such as the boatswain and first officer. My favourite had to be a front-mounted flamethrower; perfect for sinking pesky tourist ships.
Exploration is encouraged – look at your world map and you’ll see a huge blank canvas, but visit the numerous cartographers scattering on little peninsula’s, slip them some pieces of eight, and they’ll give you an insight into the local area.
Plunder And Lightning
Visiting ports in an option and you can go here to recruit from the taverns, buy and sell at the marketplace and be handed side missions galore such as hunting down ships, looting and escorting (leave the heels in the bedroom, we’re not talking that type of job).
But the highlight again is the exploration as you’ll find X marked spots that you can shuffle up close to nab some loot or the best gear; shipwrecks. Inspecting these will reveal new sails, cannons, hulls – you name it, and they can all be equipped on the spot.
The upgrades did have an immediate effect, but you’re a bit outclassed by some of the pirate hunters looking to sink you, as well as the elements such as lightning storms which throw a spanner in the works. The instant gratification of upgrading your ship so soon is a good one, but there wasn’t enough time to even tickle the tip of the King of Seas iceberg.
It’s a big game, and I want more. King of Seas does feel more arcade-like than a simulator, so don’t expect a Sid Meier ‘inspired-by’ title, nor anticipate that this is a pixel art blaster that you’ll see on mobile. The visuals are very nice indeed, and you can zoom up close to see your glorious ship, but bear in mind you’re more likely to crash.
Sea The World
A bit like Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, you can pick up stray crew members – as is the rule of the sea – to fill any spots onboard, plus pick up supplies that can be sold at the marketplace.
For each playthrough, I’d aim to sail around various corners of the map to try and experience as much as possible. In case I haven’t said it enough, or you’re skimming, King of Seas is a big game and considering the side quests on offer here, I anticipate a lot of backtracking.
Fortunately, sailing isn’t as bothersome as it could be. While you don’t move like a catamaran, the speed isn’t going to put you to sleep, though fast travel options would be welcomed. Would that work? Maybe it’s cheating as you need to sail the seas for the sheer variety of it.
Another interesting aspect was the port defences which were extremely overpowered. Competently picking off tourist ships as a level 9 had me a little overconfident by the time I took on the power of a level 30 turret. Lesson of the day: attack ships outside of the harbours, not in them. At least until you get to the equivalent level.
I just realised I didn’t even touch on the illustrations. Dialogue sections are like a visual novel, and the characters are brilliant, as if fresh out of a storybook read by Tom Hardy on primetime kids TV. They were on par as a Horrible Histories aesthetic or an Usbourne booky wook. In summary, I liked the artwork a lot.
That’s it for now. This isn’t a full review as an hour playthrough at a time wouldn’t do it justice, but let’s say that King of Seas is one that I’m looking forward to playing in its entirety. Piracy isn’t just about the booty; you can see the world too.
King of Seas is set for release in early 2021, and checking my supercomputer, that’s just over a month away. Wishlist it on Steam now or walk the plank. No, really, walk it.