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May 2021

King Of Seas

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Team 17
Release Date: May 25, 2021


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'King of Seas'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 28, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

King of Seas is an Action Role playing game set in a deadly procedurally generated pirate world.

The premise of King of Seas is that you are either the prince or the princess of a legendary naval kingdom that had all but destroyed piracy. Unfortunately, the moment that you leave on your first-ever solo expedition to sea, your father is murdered by evil magic and you're blamed for the murder. Your ship is promptly sunk, and you are saved by a group of wacky pirates. Now you'll have to engage in the very thing your kingdom was sworn to destroy to clear your name and find the real killer.

The gameplay is basically a boat-based version of isometric action titles. You control your ship (of which there are multiple types) as you travel around the world map. The map is simple but randomly generated, and by exploring, you can find enemies, loot or ports. Defeating enemies or finding loot earns you experience and money, which you can use to further upgrade your captain or your ship. Obviously, the more money and experience you have, the harder challenges you can take on, including presumably hunting down your father's murderer.

Of course, you're not relegated to just that. For example, you can take on missions such as escorting ships or hunting down specific enemies for extra rewards. You can also ferry supplies from one port to another to turn a profit. This doesn't seem to be a complex, realistic sim game but more like a light, arcade title that you can quickly pick up and play, with speedy mechanics designed to provide a breezy experience. Our preview build only gave us 45 minutes of gameplay, but it showed a nice variety of things to do thus far. It's clear that it's an early build of the game, but it's easy to imagine how it can be quickly fleshed out.

Combat is a simple but enjoyable affair. When you encounter an enemy ship, you'll enter into combat. At any time, you can fire either your port or starboard cannons to damage the enemy, but the weapons have a cooldown between volleys. You can use three different types of ammo: hull-damaging ammo that can sink the enemy ship, sails-damaging ammo that can slow down speedy ships and make it easier to hit or evade them, or crew-damaging ammo to reduce the enemy's ability to use special attacks. In our preview build, we used hull-damaging ammo almost exclusively, since it was early enough in the game that focus wasn't particularly necessary. It was easy to see how crippling an enemy's ability to move and attack would make it easier to wreck them.

You can also recruit crew members who have unique special abilities, such as a built-in flamethrower for your ship, to deal greater potential damage. However, you suffer from the same risk of increased cooldowns if you lose crew, so solely depending on special abilities can leave you in bad shape if an enemy reduces your crew count. You'll be able to equip four different special skills at once for a lot of flexibility, and a smaller ship can be far more dangerous than its size would let on.

The biggest frustration I had in our preview build was the fact that only keyboard controls were supported. Since the game is coming out for consoles, I fully expect gamepad support to be implemented, but I really hope that the developers also include mouse controls for the PC version. Trying to navigate and move around felt incredibly awkward. Fortunately, this is an early build, and there is plenty of time for the developers to fix this, but it's the one thing that I'd say had to be adjusted before release or the game will suffer heavily for it.

The art style is charmingly cartoonish, with lots of vividly drawn characters and bright colors. Even with the theoretically dark backstory, the game never descends into darkness. I feel that the playfulness is a better direction for this game style because it makes the entire thing feel fun instead of the cruel suffering of a dethroned royal heir. I look forward to seeing a variety of weird characters in the final version of the game.

Our preview build of King of Seas was a little basic but showed a strong foundation for the developers to build on. As long as the final version has plenty of content to flesh out the enjoyable core game mechanics, it should be quite fun to play. It might not be the realistic pirate simulator that some are hoping for, but it looks to be exactly the kind of game you can pop in for a half-hour to enjoy the feeling of being a pirate. Hopefully we'll see more before King of Seas hits for the PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One sometime in 2021.

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