Tales of the high seas have long since entranced people
Filling young minds with stories of thievery, bravery, and endless riches. the video game representation has been a fairly mixed bag as well. Legendary titles like Sid Meier’s Pirates has withstood the test of time while newer offerings have failed to capture the very essence of what makes pirating enjoyable. The promise of open seas and untold tales only you can tell often lure gamers no different than the sirens from our lore filled past. King of Seas looks to steer the ship around the rocky graveyard of recent pirate titles, does it succeed?
From the outset, we would be remiss not to mention just how charming King of Seas can be. No title has approached the previous mentioned Pirates in terms of simplistic charm in a long time. The visuals while bursting with colour and personality do lack the kind of polish needed to appease the critical eye of modern gamers. That said, what is on offer is by no means bad. Blurry and sometimes washed out (when docked) the title will not win any visual awards but that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. The world is well-realised if not overly filled with water (we’re looking at you IGN). The archipelagos are each unique but tend to trend towards the uninspired side after a while. The lack of biome differentiation hurts but wasn’t the focus of this tale.
Speaking of tales, King of Seas, thankfully comes equipped with a tale of revenge, redemption, and reclamation. Choosing to one of the surviving children of the fabled King of the Seas, you start your tale with nothing more than a tiny sloop before captaining your giant ships. Your main character is a bit devoid of personality but this is made up for by the abundance of charm delivered by the other inhabitants of this mythical world. Delivered through pop-up cut scenes the story while unoriginal has enough going on to keep you interested enough while carving your own path.
The lack of mission variety would sink most titles, thankfully being an aquatic-based adventure title the real draw is in the natural storytelling. Designed as a single-player experience, the majority of the early game is spent sailing back and forth on what can feel like a never-ending series of fetch quests. Before long you will be well on your way to infamy as you do battle with various factions and mythical beasts. The main narrative as alluded to is adequate, but never ascends to the heights we would hope. That being said, the wonder and experience of adventure is baked well enough into the fabric that players will return to see their own journey through to the end.
Audio-wise, KOS is adequate
While nothing to write home about normally means not special in this instance we like to think it means nothing terrible. Everything serves its purpose and fits well with the themes, moods, and atmosphere. The character dialogue is all handled via text which on the surface is fine but ultimately feels like a missed opportunity to inject more life into the game. Had each of the unique (and yes some are special) characters had some minor dialogue King of Seas could have been in a class all its won. What is on offer works but that is as far as we can go with it.
Control-wise, KOS is seaworthy on all fronts
Mastering your sails has not felt this responsive or crisp in a long time. Navigating the world map seeking fame and fortune has also never been easier. The control scheme has been perfectly implemented to consoles. Having experienced King of Seas on Steam during the beta phase, this was nice to see. The combat itself is worth the price of admission (assuming you like naval combat) The cannons are mapped to your L & R triggers which corresponds to the cannons on that side of the ship. The number of accidental battles caused by this setup is nothing short of astounding. Running (or sailing) away from pirate hunters while cutting angles close to the rocks only to set off the wrong cannons thus striking a bystander’s ship never got old. Watching battles escalate from two isolated ships into small skirmishes of 5 to 6 ships is an addictive loop to get caught in. We are left wanting more and while that is a good thing this comes from a lack of progression.
Mastering your ship is fun and rewarding but comes to a conclusion quickly. After upgrading your ship’s armament via purchases made during your journey you will quickly realise that while upgraded ships offer perks, nothing beats the comfortability of what you make your main ship. Exploring the map to find the right locations to sell your goods is key as raising capital is the only way to improve your ship.
On the whole King of Seas is a solid pirate entry. The Nintendo Switch is no stranger when it comes to this genre and it is nice to see a solid entry. The overall experience is good but not without its flaws. Players looking for a return to the glory days of Sid Meier may not find their childhood reimagined here, but what is, happens to be engaging and sets a solid foundation for future titles.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 25/05/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Adventure, Strategy
Developer: 3D Clouds
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop