Developed by Quado Delta, Pixel Piracy is a side-scrolling action adventure game which pits you as a retro style pixel pirate who sets out on an adventure in search of fame and fortune. When the game begins, you are asked several questions which affect various aspects of the game such as the difficulty, what perks you start off with, and other modifiers that persist throughout the game. Once you make your decision and create your custom pirate, you are ready to begin your adventure. During your journey, you’ll recruit more pirates to join your crew, raid islands throughout the map for treasure and gold, attack other rival pirate ships, and purchase parts to build and customize your pirate ship the way you want to.
Pixel Piracy: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Developer: Quadro Delta
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: 16 February 2016
Price: £11.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
The main goal of the game is to level up your captain and crewmates enough to be able to take on the 4 legendary ships. After the tutorial, players are free to travel just about anywhere they want to. The majority of time will be spent travelling to different islands filled with various inhabitants and animals, as well as rival pirate ships. Killing these enemies gains experience which grants skill points once you level up your pirate and crewmates. Like any RPG, these skill points range from more damage (strength), faster movement and dodge (agility), more health (vitality) and various other stats that allows players to customize their crew the way they wish. Along the way, the captain will have to ensure that crewmates are happy and their hunger is sated or risk a possible mutiny.
The gameplay of Pixel Piracy is fairly simple. After selecting a location on the map, you’ll reach the destination. If it’s an island or an enemy ship, you’ll rope across from your ship, and attack whatever enemy is there. Once you and your crewmates finish killing every hostile enemy, you’ll be able to loot every treasure chest in the area. The combat is very basic though, since you only have the option to attack with your melee weapon, or shoot your gun. It doesn’t take long for fights to feel boring and repetitive due to a lack of strategy or combat abilities. You also have the option to sail to a friendly town in order to restock on supplies such as food and weapons, recruit more pirates to your crew, or purchase parts for your ship or books that can be used to teach crew members various abilities. These include books to cook, fish, clean, read the map better, be a better marksman, etc. This allows you to assign crew members to various duties tasked at making the ship or your crew mates happier and stronger. It’s a novel idea that works well in this pirate setting if it actually worked properly…
The game isn’t without its problems, and there is quite a large list unfortunately. One of the biggest oversights of the game is the fact that it doesn’t do a well enough job of teaching players all the basic and fundamental mechanics of the game. When players start the game there is the very basic tutorial (which can be skipped) that only shows players how to attack, recruit pirates, and purchase items from the shop. However, nowhere does the game tell you about some of the other very important factors that need to be taken into consideration while playing through the game. The two main ones are hunger and crew satisfaction. Every member of your crew has a hunger and morale meter. In order to fill their hunger meter, you’ll need to ensure that your ship is constantly loaded with food.
Failure to do so results in crew members rapidly losing health due to starvation. It was something I was completely confused about at first because I had no idea why certain people were losing health at a rapid rate. The game also does not show you how to feed your crew members. This is a gross oversight given how important maintaining hunger levels are in ensuring the longevity of your crew. Morale represents how happy your crew members are, which can be affected by how often you pay them, using certain decorations on the ship, or even certain skills. If a crew member’s morale is too low, they’ll become hostile and try to start a mutiny. Both of these mechanics are very important in the game but are never mentioned in the tutorial. The lack of a proper tutorial or even indication about these mechanics at the start of the game makes life difficult for new players to understand why their shipmates are acting the way they are as they progress through the game.
The problems don’t end there, unfortunately. Pixel Piracy is full of other bugs and glitches that make the game virtually unplayable. Commandeering ships will often result in a screen that didn’t allow me to access my map and move to another area at all. This basically meant that I was stuck in limbo as it kept telling me that I needed to plunder or commandeer a ship even though I had already commandeered it, which resulted in my going back to the main menu and having to load up an earlier save. What’s worse, however, is that shipmates refuse to eat food the majority of the time. Even when there was plenty of food laid out throughout the ship, the people on the ship will die of starvation without eating anything all the while complaining that they are hungry. This makes it pretty much impossible to go through the game with a large crew that is levelled up after a lengthy journey because they end up dying despite food being readily available everywhere in the ship. There are several other problems as well, including fishermen who stop fishing after a while, cooks who won’t cook food that requires cooking like meats or fish, the inability to use cannons even when they are on the ship and certain crew members were taught to use them, being unable to save at certain points in the game and sound cutting off at times when you purchase too many items quickly. Needless to say, the game in its current form should not have been released.
While the PC version may have fixed most of the problems presented in this review, Pixel Piracy on the console is more like it’s still in the alpha test at best. Simply put, it’s a broken mess. It fails to inform new players of all the important mechanics that players will need to understand and be familiar with in order to succeed at the game, and there is an abundance of bugs and glitches that make it impossible to proceed to the end game. It’s a shame too, since the concept is novel, and there does seem to be room for the game to be quite engaging and complex once you have a sizeable crew each with their own specific traits and duties. However, it’s difficult to overlook the abundance of issues that make the console version of Pixel Piracy nearly unplayable, thereby eliminating any enjoyment that could have been had.