King of Seas Review

Sid Meier’s Pirates! has been in need of a good spiritual successor. Lots of games have tried but personally nothing has quite hit for me. Some get the exploration right, some get the sense of discovery, some mix the combat correctly, but none have managed to line them all up in one package. King of Seas by 3DClouds is the latest attempt to tackle it.

King of Seas is a top-down/isometric boat-based open world exploration game. The player chooses one of two siblings and, after the tutorial that sets up how to sail the boat and collect debris, the player is dropped into political intrigue. As the offspring of the king of seas, they are accused of murdering their father with ‘Voodoo’ and are set adrift. They are rescued by some local pirates and embark on their journey to clear their name.

This is an unlikely pick for a dev team that normally focuses on racing/car-combat, but I was feeling pretty positive after the opening couple of hours.

The main way to clear their name is for the player to make money for upgrades and bigger ships, so that they can conquer ports and expand their influence. They start with a Sloop, a nippy little boat limited by its slim number of canons.  

King of Seas sets up the myriad ways to make money – do side quests, trade with outposts, and engage in sea combat. Each are handled competently with the combat getting the most attention. The player is expected to monitor three meters – Sail, Hull and Crew – that affect speed, health and attack respectively. A player can modify every aspect of their boat, so as to improve their stats and there are special attacks that can be found throughout the world that can give them the edge. These specials involve magic shields, homing fireballs, and speed boosts that leave a trail of fire in their wake. 

The AI is good enough to make the to-and-fro enticing. Trying to bring a ship broadside and turn all cannons on an opponent, to rip their sails apart, and bring them to their knees feels good.

Although the combat is well thought out, the rest of the experience is functional but shallow. The side quests are limited to ‘go here, kill this’ or ‘go here, deliver this’; they are fun as a diversion. The trading is so limited – each port’s marketplace has one type of stock it wants and one it has in abundance. Making money from this requires a lot of back tracking since it is not possible to know where to go ahead of time and getting lucky.  

The problem then is that the main quests are things like ‘Earn 10 thousand gold’ or ‘reach level 35’. This means just doing the undercooked side missions and trade. I might have valued this if the story was worth unlocking, but the only thing it gave me was access to Port battles that were underwhelming. The premise being that instead of dynamic battles on the open seas, I was required to engage in battles with fixed targets with superior fire power.  

Within 6 hours King of Seas has shown everything it has to offer. The numbers go up, loot gets more powerful, and enemies do the same.

That is not to say that the game is bad, for those that enjoy repetitive actions King of Seas is perfect for switching the brain off and going into the grind.

Conclusion

King of Seas is solid, but unremarkable. Lacking the diversity of actions and depth of simulation required for something within its genre. For those craving a pirate game it will definitely entertain, but maybe not for very long.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Great opening
  • Good boat-to-boat action
Bad
  • Lacks depth
  • The lack of depth affects the whole game
5
Average
Gameplay - 5
Graphics - 4
Audio - 6
Longevity - 5
Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

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