King of Seas Review (Switch)
Release Date: May 25, 2021
File Size: 1.3GB
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Pirates have always been a subject matter that has vaguely interested me. I grew up when Pirates of the Caribbean was the poster child for pirate media, and honestly, what isn’t there to like about pirates? A ragtag group of criminals and delinquents, sailing out onto the high seas looking for adventure, treasure, and maybe a couple ships to commandeer? Giant kraken battles, and turbulent storms that threaten to destroy everything in their path with no discrimination? My heart’s pounding just thinking about it.
So when I kept hearing about King of Seas, I was cautiously optimistic. While my interest in pirates is generally high, most pirate games don’t actually capture my attention. But since this game supposedly had more RPG elements, and a few people in the SwitchRPG Discord were very excited for it, I wanted to dip my toes in as well. And oh boy, did it show me that I am no Jack Sparrow and I will instead spend most of my time sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
In King of Seas, you can play as either the son or daughter of the leader of the Kingdom of the Seven Seas. This kingdom was established after a battle between the navy and the pirates, to which the navy won and pushed out the pirates to the outskirts. Despite the responsibilities that are on your shoulders as the heir to the throne, you have more of an interest in exploring and fighting. One day, you are placed in charge of a simple delivery but while you’re gone, your father is suddenly found dead.
In a whirlwind of chaos, you are accused of the death of your father and your boat destroyed, but with you making it out alive. Soon, you find yourself outfitted as a pirate and you must build up your reputation and power to face off against the navy that wants you dead. The main story missions are mainly a way to help get you used to playing the game, fighting, and navigating. Along with the main story, you can also take on some side missions, though the latter’s content isn’t much to write home about since they end up repeating after a while. And not just the same general mission, like delivering a package, but almost word-for-word the same scenarios.
King of Seas is an action RPG where the meat of the game comes from the gameplay itself. The entirety of the game will be played out on the open sea where you control your ship. There are up to five different ships for you to purchase and use, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. You use the left stick to control your ship direction, the L2 and R2 buttons to fire your cannons on each of your ship’s sides, the L1 and R1 buttons to control your sails, and the X/Y/A/B buttons to activate your abilities.
When it comes to your ship and its upgrades, every aspect of the ship is upgradeable. You can get new ship components by purchasing them from carpenters at ports, looting wrecked ships, defeating other ships in battle, completing missions, and looting treasure spots located around the map. You’ll want to stay on top of upgrading your ship components because they control your health, armor, power, and many more aspects to your ship that are literally the difference between life and death — and I am not saying that lightly. Upgrade your ship components and abilities! Also, if an ability seems really strong, but can’t be used for the ship you’re currently using, buy it for later use when you unlock the option to buy more ships. Along with upgrading your ship, you also have passive skills known as talents that can be upgraded for points. You gain one point every time you level up and these talents range from increasing your navigation speed to improving close-range damage.
You level up by defeating ships in battle, looting, picking up packages or castaways at sea, and completing missions. Leveling up isn’t too much of a hassle in King of Seas, as almost every action you do gives you experience in some way. However, enemy ships do level up alongside you. So if you come across a strong story boss, grinding levels will not give you a clear advantage.
There are three main categories of ships and ports that you will come across in the game: navy (blue), merchant (green), and pirate (black). By default, pirate ships and most merchant ships won’t attack you unless you attack first. However, all navy ships and ports will view your ship as hostile and attack you if you are in range. If your ship is fast enough, you can escape their aggro range, although you do have the option of fighting and defeating any ship you come across in battle. As a tip, you will want to keep as much of a distance between you and the enemy ship as possible, especially bigger vessels that can easily overpower you if you get too close.
If you happen to lose all of your hull health, your ship will sink and you will be taken back to the Eagle’s Den. Depending on the difficulty you selected, you may or may not lose all of your cargo as well. Unfortunately, since there is no fast travel in the game, you’ll be taken back to the Eagle’s Den after defeat. This can end up being tedious or even frustrating at times when your task is on the opposite side of the map.
You have a map feature that you can access by pressing down on the right stick. At first, your map will be mostly blank with the exception of Eagle’s Den and the center of the Kingdom of the Seven Seas. Every other port will not show up on your map until you visit the cartographer near that port and pay a fee for that portion of the map. While not required, it is extremely helpful if you’re trying to locate a nearby port without wandering aimlessly, whether it is to recoup losses or to conquer said port. And speaking of the map, King of Seas uses procedural generation to create new maps, so what you see on yours during one playthrough will be different next time. King of Seas uses an autosave feature that activates every time you enter and exit a port or lighthouse. So make sure to land often to save, as not doing so will cause you to lose all of your progress prior to your last save.
King of Seas looks very nice on the Switch. Most assets, from the environments to your ship, are displayed in 3D, while all character models are in 2D. The models lean more towards the cartoony side, giving off a certain charm which works to the game’s advantage. But of course, being the Switch, there are a few performance issues that are present, although nothing that makes the game unplayable. There is a bit of stuttering that can occur when too much is trying to load at one time. Along with that, there is a substantial load at the beginning after booting up the game.
The music is nice, definitely giving off feelings of being on the high seas with your crew. And depending on the situation, the music will cut in and out for either ambience or a more fitting tune, such as when you are being drawn into battle.
While I didn’t come out of King of Seas feeling all powerful, given how bad I was at the combat, the game was nonetheless enjoyable and relaxing (when I wasn’t being chased by Navy Commander ships). While the story isn’t really anything to write home about, it’s nice to just boot up the game and sail around the map doing menial tasks whenever I want to just pass the time.At its worst, King of Seas can definitely be tedious. Not upgrading your ship bites you in the butt and there are definite walls in the game that make sure you are keeping on top of things. But when you do keep on top of that and play accordingly, you come out feeling a lot more powerful than you would expect.