I don’t normally play procedurally generate games as a rule, to be honest I find them a bit pointless and repetitive, the slog of replaying basically the same handful of missions over and over bores me. And I know that’s like saying “I don’t often drink orange juice because I hate the way it only tastes of orange” but it’s true.
But when I read through the press material for “King of Seas” I was immediately intrigued, the idea of role-playing as an exiled royal turned pirate sounded awesome. And when I saw the gorgeous hand drawn art style I broke my rule and decided to give it a chance and the result? A resounding meh.(There’s too many pirates in my pirate game!)
It started out well enough; you play as a Prince/Princess embarking on their inaugural voyage as captain of their own ship, only for a coup to take place in their absence and for the betrayers to blame you, the player character. Bafflingly, everyone seems to swallow this lie, I mean it’s not like when a royal takes command of a ship that the whole community comes out to witness it. And it’s well established that they have time travel powers and are totally able to leave on a ship, sneak back on a ship to kill a king, sneak off again to cover their tracks and to then return a 2nd time to pretend nothing happened. But I put it out of my mind; I just put the lazy opening down to wanting to get us straight into the piratey action ASAP.
(How wrong I was!)
The first few missions as a pirate are painfully slow, sailing from port to port learning the rules of being a pirate…. the rules of being a pirate. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Gerard, they have to take the time to explain the mechanics of the game, and you’re right, they do. But this was not the way to do it, if the devs wanted to take the time to explain the rules and mechanics of the game, then they should have had you remain a law-abiding sailor for longer. That way, we learn to play the game and when we are eventually betrayed it strengthens the narrative that playing by the rules only gets you killed and the only true course of action is to do what you please, pirate style.
Once you finally escape the slow opening “King of Seas” does pick up, for about an hour, until you realise that all the missions are merely a slight variation on the same handful of missions. Deliver this, collect that, destroy these many things and if you’re into that kind of gameplay then Godspeed, but I needed something on in the background just to get through enough of the game to be able to write this review.(“Yes, please explain to me..a sailor..how a map works!”)
That’s not to say this game is without merit, the gameplay can be entertaining (in a repetitive sort of way) and the ship combat is kind of fun, but after a while it just became a slog. Oh sure, one or two enemy ships would have different weapons which livened things up, but all too often the game resorted giving enemy ships a stupidly high defence to increase difficulty.
I will admit that the art style and the aesthetic of the Pirate world are beautiful; the hand drawn art style of the characters is simply remarkable. Each of the characters looks distinct and even the ones that have similar models are unique in some way, it’s just a pity that they’re boring as fuck to engage with.
I just realised that I have (again) ended on a complaint when I was mention something I liked and I think that sums up my time with this game perfectly. Every time I was close to having fun the spell would be broken and I would be forced back into to a repetitive grind of back and forth delivers.(“Another fucking cartography delivery!”)
This is game is a perfect example of why I don’t play procedurally generated games, it always boils down to the same shit over and over, leaving players unsatisfied and bored. And what’s most frustrating is that it has the potential to be so much more, all it needs is a more structured gameplay progression and it could be a great game. 3DClouds had a fantastic idea for a game and executed it in the most boring way possible, procedurally. They had a great idea, created a beautiful world and filled it with…nothing.