I can’t help but hum the theme tune to Captain Pugwash when even mentioning Trash Sailors. That’s pretty mad as I’m not old enough to have seen the kid’s show, but with names like Master Bates and Roger the Cabin Boy, the crew are forever immortalised to memory.
But the crew in this indie from fluckyMachine and tinyBuild are a different kind of vulgar and wouldn’t have any difficulties getting accepted into the grubby halls of fame for all that is filth. They thrive on trash, and it’s not even their job.
Still, they are sailors, as that’s what the title says, and as our illustrious scrappy piece of wood, we call a raft drifts through pungent waters, avoiding pirates, sea creatures and shopping trolleys half-inched from the local supermarket. One can’t help but wash their hands after and check when they last had a tetanus shot.
The goal in Trash Sailors is to sail from A to B and survive. Like any 5-a-day survival game, there’s crafting involved, environmental hazards and ‘orrible ‘ostiles, but no health to worry about other than the durability of the raft.
Players steer while the other(s) salvage debris to make repairs on the go, provide fuel, or fend off attacks. These sailors aren’t eco-warriors but make good use of the floating debris that will determine whether they’ll float long enough to move on to the next stage. Well, it’s either that or whoever steers, causing the frequent crashing into floating cars, ships, vegetation and structures that cause damage.
Reuseable parts can be sourced for repairs but must match those shown on the screen. They don’t have to be in order, but they have to be the right items. Bonus currency is then awarded to upgrade the efficiency of your ship. Or even better: character customisation! Besides getting from A to B, you’ll engage in combat with creatures, pirates and even frequently fix a spotlight to fend off the nocturnals. Not an MCU movie.
Trash Sailors was plain sailing in the early stages – even as a solo experience. Opting for the AI-based robot, they could be placed at the front of the raft to collect resources automatically or at the back to operate the engine. Do note that you have to steer, in my case, with the shoulder buttons. In truth, these first few levels were a little dull as it was easy to get through, sometimes collecting minimal amounts of trash.
BUTT (intentional), it soon evolved into an Overcooked-like experience as the AI isn’t enough to rely upon. With various hazards knocking the crew off the deck – be it waves, or the raft breaking away from sudden attacks, Trash Sailors gets a little manic, and in this respect, I encourage you to play in co-op, or at least go outside and try to make friends to help. It is manageable but way better with another player who can multi-task.
The visuals are the primary focal point, and I cannot fault the aesthetic. ‘Plays like a picturebook’ has been used often, but this is at its most accurate. Illustrations are superb, the colours compliment the art style, and the overall production is excellent. As for gameplay, it isn’t as finely tuned.
For starters, the lack of stopping on command will put off a lot of players but persevere, and a raft upgrade can solve that, making that element a lot better. It’s equally frustrating if you can’t get the right crew. In the early stages, loners such as myself can make light work of it and upgrade the raft accordingly, but it gets to the point where it’s a bit overwhelming. On that basis, co-op (local, from my experience) is the solution, pending you get someone on the same wavelength who doesn’t keep crashing into everything. True story.
I can’t fault the presentation whatsoever, but Trash Sailors gameplay was a little challenging for me simply because I could neither get the staff nor juggle the tasks alone. As a solo outfit, expect plenty of challenges that verge on repetition and frustration, but regarding as you unlock the upgrades. In co-op, it’s fun but dependent (as always) on the player, not the game.