We’re in dangerous territory with Sea Horizon. If you have any sort of commitments such as school, work, family, a high-maintenance partner, or you simply want to make the most of your time by, say, learning a language, instrument, or joining a gym, be forewarned that this could take up your time.
The latest from Softstar, 45 Studio, and Eastasiasoft had a passing resemblance to the recent Pirate Outlaws, but having played this rogue-like RPG thingy, it has so many similarities that, at times, they’re a little indistinguishable. Not to the extent of plagiarism, but the mechanics, art style, and addiction level are equally the same.
Let us focus on the differences, however, as Sea Horizon relies on party-based adventures, albeit as a solo campaign, and with a ton of character classes to choose from. A tutorial, via the way of a Story mode, introduces us to the common mechanics of moving around the map, action points, and how the combat works.
Sea Horizon Review (PS5)
There are two variations for exploration: on foot and via the sea. For both, you’ll literally eat into your resources for every move, re-stocking at campfires (as long as you pay) or going without to the point where your crew are starving. You can figure out the rest. Movement is mostly free via a tile-based map; points of interests are highlighted nearby, as are any enemies.
Engaging in combat is mostly optional; however, the fighting is one of the main draws, and besides looting new gear, your characters will level up – essential for boss fights. Battles are turn-based, and your moves are dictated by the equipment you are wearing – each with various stats that are required in a roll if you are to use certain cards.
As a card-based game, Sea Horizon will list your hand at the foot of the screen. Pending you’ve rolled the required elements, you can play your desired card; otherwise, there’s a lot of winging it. In summary, gear plays a massive part in the gameplay, so besides stats such as block, you will want to pay attention to what elements it will add to your dice and change your deck/gear accordingly.
From the exploration screen, you can enter two menus – one for swapping out gear, the second for customising what cards you wish to use in combat. Much like Pirate Outlaws, each character has a style of play, such as offensive, defensive, or support, but the gear makes it unique as you can effectively improve your chances of winning. Remember, this is a rogue-like.
My first run was disappointing as a boss fight happened on the first adventure. They hit too hard, and I couldn’t even half their health. Fortunately, you can reply a section repeatedly until you get it right, and though it was tempting to bail, spending a bit of time to configure the deck and what gear was being worn turned the tables.
Run complete, your character levels up and earns new abilities, and you can move on to the next classes, jump into a dungeon (and fight the same bosses, only ridonkulously harder!), or delve into the exploration mode. Alternatively, you can do precisely what I did and restart another run, then another, and then another, using the same characters, levelling them up and… <gulp> unlock new skins for customisation and playing style! Rejoice!
If I could only review one game for a week or two, it’d be Sea Horizon. Each time it feels like you’re starting to get the hang of it, you unlock a new class, gear, or way of playing, opening up the way for new adventures. Highly recommended to rogue-like and RPG fans alike.