King of Seas Review: Time to Set Sail
We’ve not had a new pirate adventure game for some time. While Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones remains stuck in development hell and Rare continues supporting Sea of Thieves, 3DClouds has released a decisively old-school take on swashbuckling pirates with its action RPG King of Seas.
This pirate-themed adventure is reminiscent of Sid Meier's Pirates, set across a procedurally generated oceanic world. Featuring a strategy-oriented approach to combat, it won’t suit everyone, but there’s a great experience within for those willing to sail the seven seas.
King of Seas Review: Time to Set Sail
Playing as Princess Marylou or Prince Luky, King of Seas begins with the King’s mysterious death. Finding yourself inexplicably blamed for his assassination after returning from a brief mission, the Royal Navy deems you guilty.
Condemned to Davey Jones’ Locker by your former allies, you soon get rescued by the pirates of Eagle’s Den, led by Captain D. Morgen, taking you on as a fresh recruit. Using a mission-based structure, you are tasked with aiding these new allies, while Captain Morgen investigates your father’s death.
It's not a brilliant story and remains exactly the same no matter which character you choose to play as. King of Seas requires some suspension of disbelief to accept what's going on; it serves to plug the leaks between points A and B, and works as a fine backdrop to the rest of the game.
There are five difficulty options available, tweaking stats like health, bounty bonuses for completing missions, and damage output. Higher difficulties remove your ship’s inventory if you sink, adding modifiers like increased hostile ship spawns. There's also a permadeath option for the truly daring.
Since King of Seas is procedurally generated, world maps change between playthroughs and only the enemy base is a permanent fixture. You’ll never experience a world twice, which adds extra replayability should you become fish food.
King of Seas progress isn’t strictly linear, either. There are set story missions to undertake, ranging from simple matters like delivering outlawed artifacts to transporting materials, but you can freely sail across these open waters as you see fit.
Movement is based around raising the ship’s sails while also factoring in wind speed, allowing three sails at once for maximum speed. As King of Seas isn’t a simulator, wind doesn’t greatly affect sailing, but going at maximum speed makes turning significantly trickier, requiring precision handling.
During your travels, cargo can be spotted glistening in the sea, giving you gold with which to purchase supplies and fix your ship. Should you fancy fishing, you can purchase a rod and reel, catch fish, and sell them to restaurants afterward. Shipwrecks are common too and can be looted for materials, such as wood for building new ship parts.
Upon clearing the game's initial stages, ship customization quickly opens to provide new skills, allowing you to swap between them via a carpenter at Eagle’s Den. That includes assigning specialists to your crew for new attack types, like a flamethrower attack from the front of your ship.
You can purchase new ships too, each having differing stats for top speed, cargo space, and how many cannonballs they’ll volley at opposing vessels. If you've already got a ship you like, they can be upgraded too, with purchasable upgrades like improved cannons, better cannon balls, and new sails. Whatever your strategy, there's a lot of choice here.
There are more services within Eagle’s Den too, allowing you to store spare cargo within the Bank, sell/purchase items via a Marketplace, and recruit new crew members at the Tavern, should any fall in combat.
Upon venturing out again, plenty of ships are also present and unsurprisingly, not all are friendly. Should they attack, or if you take them on first, you’ve got two sets of cannons on the ship’s port and starboard sides. Every attack has a cooldown, stopping you from spamming attacks on enemy vessels.
Each ship has three indicator bars, representing your ship's overall health (hull), speed (sails), and cannon cooldown times (crew). Should the hull meter deplete, that’s game over and worse still, ships cannot be repaired until combat is finished, meaning you’ll need to buy a repair kit or anchor up at Eagle’s Den and be strategic in battles if you want to make it out alive.
Skirmishes are a mix of maneuvering and attacking, firing precision shots without rushing into battle. When you factor in the game's tough steering mechanics, combat does feel a bit finicky and mandates patience, which will likely deter some. However, there’s great satisfaction in taking down ships and capturing their loot once you get to grips with it.
King of Seas Review — The Bottom Line
- Enjoyable open-world exploration
- Good customization options for your ship
- Rewards those with patience
- Strong presentation with a swashbuckling soundtrack
- Combat can be very finicky
- A slow burner
- Open world isn't huge
- Story requires suspension of disbelief
Ultimately, King of Seas makes for a great take on the pirate’s life. Admittedly, it’s a slow burner at first and because of the more precise nature of its combat, 3DCloud’s newest game won’t appeal to everyone, so I’d recommend trying the demo first.
Should you stick with it, there’s an entertaining world with enjoyable exploration, in-depth combat, and pleasant visuals. Backed up by a great swashbuckling soundtrack, these aren’t shallow waters.
[Note: 3DClouds provided the copy of King of Seas used for this review.]