Sometimes my taste in video games can be a bit weird, as I tend to like games with a grind, especially those with satisfying mechanics. Games like Elite Dangerous can have me hauling goods across the galaxy for hundreds of hours, and it’s the same with Death Stranding. That’s why King of Seas seemed like it would be a good fit for me, but it doesn’t have what those other games do: and that’s gameplay that feels satisfying.
King of Seas is an action adventure game that is played from an isometric perspective. You take control of a pirate ship as you sail it to perform missions, trade, and fight on the high seas. It reminds me a little bit of Sea of Thieves played from a top down view, especially when it comes to how the sails work. It takes place in a world that isn’t quite the age of pirates, but more like a techno-punk version of it with magical elements. The story is told through extremely stylized characters that are only shown during dialogue. You play as Lucky or his sister Maddy, and you’re framed for the death of your father. You have to fight, trade, and upgrade your ship while on the quest to get revenge.
While King of Seas has an exciting premise, I’m not too thrilled with how everything feels. My first impression was that the boats felt like radio controlled toys being played with in a pond, but once I got past that feeling I thought I’d start having more fun. I didn’t. Everything in King of Seas feels like a slow chore to accomplish. Navigating from port to port is mostly unexciting, with the only hope for excitement coming in the form of combat. While the combat is fun, it’s a mixed bag. There are abilities to use that can spice things up, but most of the time combat boils down to circling your enemy while attempting to hit them with your cannons and dodge their cannons. Upgrades never feel substantial, even when you’re dishing out for large battleships that are easily outclassed by smaller, more maneuverable ships.
Unfortunately, the other activities in King of the Seas just aren’t very interesting. It’s possible to make a profit off of trading, but it feels unnecessary. Randomly pirating other ships is fun, but that’s just combat. That’s really all there is to do in King of the Seas, and unfortunately, it just doesn’t feel fun enough to keep my attention to long periods of time.
I played King of Seas on Nintendo Switch, and it doesn’t fit that system very well. In docked mode, everything is mostly okay, even if there are performance issues occasionally. The biggest problem is in handheld mode. Most of the game is extremely tiny, and while it’s’ definitely playable, I found myself bringing my Switch closer to my face to get a better view.
I really wanted to like King of the Seas, but I had a difficult time getting into it. I enjoyed its form of naval battles for only a short while before the game started to feel like a chore. Even its whimsically stylized characters and interesting premise weren’t enough to keep me playing.
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