Cutthroat pirates, sailing the high seas, and swashbuckling adventures are promised in King of Seas, the colourful action role-playing game from 3D Clouds. While it does deliver in part, there is something that doesn’t quite hit the mark.
King of Seas takes place in a world of royalty, pirates, and magic. You play as the heir to the throne and are immediately able to choose your character, either the son or the daughter of the King. As I always do, I went for the daughter, Marylou. I did like this character selection screen, as it provided you with a brief run-down of the characteristics of each choice.
The first thing that struck me whilst playing King of Seas was the visuals; the whole game has a really lovely art style that shines in the cutscenes and in the characters. The beginning cut scene really struck me because it was very akin to the opening to The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, with an intricate tapestry detailing the backstory of the world you are about to enter into. I will say that this would have been extremely impressive, but I was put off by the voice actor, who was either trying to do either an accent from the Caribbean or Pirate Irish—I couldn’t tell. Either way, it was both off-putting and hilarious at the same time.
The initial story is quite engaging, as you are immediately plunged into drama after your first tutorial fetch-quest and Marylou ends up being taken in by pirates. Honestly, for me, the best bit about the story was being introduced to new characters, because the character design is really great. Each person you come across is unique and memorable, with the art style for these 2D characters being very charming. However, even with the story and characters as fun as they are to begin with, can’t hold up the gameplay as much as I would have liked.
In King of Seas, the world is procedurally generated, so it does change and keeps it somewhat fresh—however, I found the base mechanic of the game to be so frustrating. The controls, which I am assuming are designed to feel like a “real ship” as much as possible, end up making every journey a slog. I do appreciate that the wind direction has a huge part to play in how you sail, giving as much realism as this game can. But, to put it simply, I just don’t have the patience for it, and at the end of the day, as realistic as it may be, it wasn’t fun for me.
Even the battles, which should be a whole lot of swashbuckling fun, just aren’t. It’s so cumbersome to move your ship around to fire again, and with the game being entirely top-down there feels like a lack of immersion in these epic battles. The trailer from the game promises this type of action, with sweeping shots of the ships up close, but I have to say I was rather disappointed with now “not epic” the battles actually were.
The game does have added elements to keep you busy in the world, such as hidden treasure and extra missions to build up the ranks and unlock new adventures, but these still didn’t add enough of a draw to keep playing. I eventually got tired because there wasn’t enough in the world to keep me engaged. The later Assassins Creed games know that sailing long distances can be boring, but there are things to keep you entertained and immersed—whether it is the crew singing shanties or just the engaging environments (there is nothing more wonderful than seeing a whale breach next to your ship). King of Seas does attempt to do this; I did see some pods of dolphins milling around, but they are so small that they don’t really have any meaningful impact.
This element of scale was also an issue for me. I was playing on my Switch in handheld mode and everything just felt so tiny; even when I docked the console, I found I could see more detail, but I still wasn’t a fan of the scale—you really don’t get that sense of the wider world or the grandiose sense of adventure because it’s hard not to see these ships as little toys.
I can imagine that for some, King of Seas could be a very satisfying and relaxing game if you have patience and interest in a more realistic style of in-game sailing. But for me, it doesn’t have enough gusto to keep my interest, which is a shame because it promises so much and on the surface looks like such an exciting game.
[A copy of this game was provided for review purposes]