King Of Seas Review: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Take to the seas with the spunk of a pirate... don't read into that, Brits. King Of Seas is as as addictive as the booty that fits in your pocket. Again...

King Of Seas is one of several games on my radar, but a few delays meant it had fallen down the list a little. Playing it for the 45 minutes or so in the Steam preview was very enjoyable, but that anticipation waned when the release date was put back.

Then, Team17 came on as publisher. A release date was confirmed, and the swashbuckler would be coming to PC and consoles. Was King Of Seas worth the wait? Aye, it was. It’s the only game I’ve been playing on the Switch for the past couple of weeks.

Life-changing then? No, not really, but there’s something about the game that warrants repeat plays – a sense of achievement, even if gradual, and a seemingly endless array of weapons, sails, crew members and missions make this game massively replayable.

King Of Seas Review – Nintendo Switch

The plot remains the same as before: you pick either the son or daughter of the King, then a tale of betrayal. The King is dead, and you’re the suspect. Hunted down and left for dead, you get a second wind courtesy of the pirates, and they show you the literal ropes on how to rule the seas.

King of Seas Switch Review - Scenic
A scenic, non gaming moment. Source: Nintendo

Still, you’ve got that itch to return, and there’s the main story arc that nudges you back into the spotlight to reclaim your place and seek vengeance on all those who betrayed your family. But first, some booty.

You set sail from the pirate bay (the legal one – wait, scratch that, neither are) and do a handful of seemingly endless side quests from escort missions to deliveries, sinking ships to retrieving goods and selling with a heft mark-up if viable.

What side missions you do in King of Seas is up to you, but the more time you invest in them, the higher your reputation and earnings grow, allowing you to invest in bigger ships such as the frigate or even a galleon. In the preview, it was a doddle to get a manowar, but even when you have the doubloons to purchase one, you have to complete some of the main arcs to unlock them all ships.

Pirates Are A Bunch Of Rogues

It’s worth mentioning that King Of Seas, a game by 3D Clouds, is a rogue-like of sorts. To be perfectly transparent, most of my experience was in the easy setting for several reasons. A sloop is swift, but when you’re out to sink treasure ships and have to contend with their cannons, an escort, or perhaps pirate hunters, Davy Jones’ locker will be a familiar haunt.

King of Seas Switch Review - Knots Landing
Arrr.. that’s more like it – knots landing. Source: Nintendo

Additionally, the map in the game is pretty big, and it can take an age to explore (that’s a good thing). If you die, you could lose that progress, but more importantly, it’s procedurally generated – making for a unique experience. So, the easiest setting does feel like cheating, but it’s a way to experience what the game has to offer.

In many ways, it’s incredibly repetitive – notably the side quests. The only way to break up the somewhat monotony is to do part of the main story to get some storytelling elements in the form of visual novel-like dialogue segments. If you don’t mind investing in these side quests, it’s an enriching experience as you unlock so much loot.

It’s a little like a pirate version of Borderlands. As soon as you get accustomed to a set of sails, crew or cannons, you unlock a newer, more powerful set, sell the last and turn your vessel into a bit of a beefcake.

The Wind In Your Hair

When it comes to the offence, you have three attacks that include targeting the enemy sails to slow them down, their crew, and naturally, to sink the ship. For each ship you sink, you gain experience, goods to sell and potentially some new gear to stay afloat (literally) for longer.

King of Seas Switch Review - Gimme the loot
Gimme the loot, gimme the loot. Source: Nintendo

But as this is presumably the Caribbean, there’s a voodoo twist, and you can equip special weapons and earn stat boosts for these skills. By the time you’re level 10, you can start chipping away at the skills tree that is pretty deep yet has arcade convenience. Improve your navigation skills, bartering, voodoo or the potency of your canons.

It’s not a visually taxing game, so there’s not much comparison (the game’s still there!), but I will recommend playing this in docked mode over handheld.

While the visuals are absolutely fine, reading the text of other ships (to identify if friend or foe) is an absolute pig, and I’d frequently switch my camera to the closest to make out the letters, if not the colour of the sails. The downside of this is you can’t see ahead of yourself and likely to run aground.

Portly Fellows

The presentation is really nice throughout, and while being close to the action looks great, you’re likely to shift to the furthest viewpoint so you can see ahead of yourself for any enemies, victims, or perhaps active volcanos! Some islands are pretty tight to navigate, so it’s best to approach from a distance, lowering the sails. There’re three speeds – affected by wind direction and the anchor option. With the latter, you can apply repair kits to keep your ship tippity-top.

With the number of ports and their side missions, a ridiculous amount of loot from destroying ships, completing tasks or locating items on the shore or via shipwrecks, there’s a lot to King Of Seas to keep you flying the pirate flag. The two protagonists are interchangeable, and while the illustrations are brilliant, the main story isn’t as much fun as making the merchant’s lives miserable. That is until you’re gunned down in a port.

As stated, King Of Seas is currently my go-to Nintendo Switch game at the moment. That carrot dangling of getting a bigger boat constantly leading you on is a good incentive, and if you’ve had enough of the side quests and want to take on the navy face-on, there’s plenty of resistance to make this a game deserving of your precious time.