Pixel Piracy Review - Land ahoy! Land ahoy! Land ahoy!
Pixel Piracy is an early access game with mixed reception, brought to you by the creators of Terraria. The game is unfinished in the eyes of early access backers, who claim that the game was not what it was hyped up to be (as many games are not). The real question, however, is if it is a good game on its own, minus the early access woes, or is just as bad as it is made out to be?
The first thing that struck me in this game was it’s sound design, which included a few good ideas that were poorly executed. What I am mainly referring to is hinted at in this review’s title -- the speech mechanics of the pirates. Each pirate has a random voice pitch and voice line given to them, that they will say about every 15 seconds, followed by text above their head translating what they just said. As cute and funny as the quotes were when I first started the game, they began to quickly grow more and more repetitive. Walking through a room of pirates always seemed to lead to a sea of mixed texts and inaudible speech. So one of the best features of the game is that you can mute the pirates’ voices.
Day 1: We set sail with our new captain. The captain yelled, “Land ahoy!” There was no land.
Day 2: The deckhand has constantly been telling me, “Next drink is on me!” over the constant, “Land ahoy!” of our captain; when there finally was land to step foot on the deckhand did not, in fact, buy me a drink at the island’s bar.
Day 3: We picked up a new mate on the previous island, who keeps telling me to, “Walk the plank!” We do not even have a plank on this ship... after another day of false drink offerings and false claims of land, I am beginning to lose faith in the capability and sanity of my crew.
-- Diary of a crew member of the S.S. ShitStorm, pre-mutiny
On another note, the tutorial of the game does not fully address what you have access to in the game, but that doesn’t take away from it too much (in my experience with the game). You can later discover new ways of interacting with the world through trial and error, and although this was not purposely a feature of the game, it adds a bit of realism to me; as if you were an aspiring pirate learning the lay of the land.
One thing that does take away from the game is how ridiculously easy it is. There is no real penalty for losing your whole crew in the normal mode of the game, you'll simply load back up to before whatever fight you had, be it on land or at sea. Money is easily acquired, and crew members are easily kept happy, so the game seems to replace difficulty with time commitment. Instead of hard fights for your life, you must sink dozens of ships to acquire the money for fairly simple weapons and skills, such as teaching a crew mate to clean your ship or cook. This imbalance in difficulty and effort makes for a quickly boring game; I would rather have to strategize to take down enemy ships in enduring battles, instead of sinking a dozen push-over dinghies so that my crew can gain the ability to throw waste off of my ship.
The combat also reflects how easy this rinse and repeat game often is. You have a wide variety of scenarios to fight in/on -- small islands or small boats. The fighting consists of siccing your crew and captain onto your target via 2 clicks and hoping for the best -- the pirate’s auto attack system also makes it very hard to target specific enemies, and takes away from the strategy I was hoping to see in this game. You may give your pirates a ranged and melee weapon, and the occasional special boost or item, but these do not add much variety to the combat, and it always looks the same to me.
Pixel Piracy is a cute game with interesting graphics and an even more interesting concept. (We need more pirate games!) The execution of this game could have been much better, and if the developers put in the time, they could have come out with a much better, polished product. I believe the lesson here is to make good on your early access promises, set realistic goals, and take the extra time to improve on your game, even if you must push back it’s release date.
With all that said, Pixel Piracy is fun at its start, giving you the potential to command a giant ship with cannons and dozens of crew members. Whether you choose to put in the grinding to achieve this state is up to you, but all in all this game is an effective time killer. I would love to see a game like this for mobile devices, and would play the shit out of it, but that game isn't here yet.
Pixel Piracy is available on Steam right now.