I reviewed King of Seas on an Xbox Series X on the games equivalent of hard mode. A copy of King of Seas was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by the publisher for the purpose of review.
You can find a video version of this review here: King of Seas Review: Drink Up Me Hearties Oh NO! – YouTube
King of Seas is a top-down action RPG of ships and sorcery that has you sailing around various ports, taking on quests, and pirating the goods from other vessels.
King of Seas has an arcade feel to its gameplay. Although you do need to manage your sails, wind direction and point the shooty bits of your cannons at the enemy. You also wield magical skills that allow your ship to launch fireballs, summon sharks and fire laser beams using mysterious voodoo. Or just have your crew pee on the cannons to cool them off. Yes, that is actually a skill.
The world is open and procedural, allowing you to forge your own path on the open blue sea. It’s just too bad there isn’t a whole lot else out there. Hey, that was a decent closing line. What if I just ended the review right there? I’d probably be the worst reviewer you have ever heard of.
But…you have heard of me!
The world of King of Seas is open to you, but there is a very bland and lightweight story you will need to follow off and on. I say off and on because it will continually gate progress behind your arbitrary level. It makes even less sense when you realize that aside from forts, the world levels with you in the first place.
King of Seas is a grind-heavy game, which isn’t inherently bad. As a survival gamer myself, I’ll grind away like I’m giving a lapdance. King of Seas just doesn’t really offer much variety in its grind and often presents you with some arbitrary wall that doesn’t really add anything to the game.
You will spend a lot of time sailing from place to place with very little interesting happening in between. While the other half of the game is spent fighting other ships. You can do some trading, but you just buy low and sell high. It’s a very simplistic economy where at most, one item is high and another low at any given port.
It’s not enough to explore the world and find the ports either. You have to visit a dozen or so map makers around the world and buy tiny pieces of the map just so you can figure out which port is where.
King of Seas does an admirable job on the combat front, at least at first. You have to control your sails, and the direction of the wind affects your ship’s speed. Landing attacks with your cannons is all about angling them into the right position to fire while also not getting your ship blasted to splinters.
Each ship has three health bars. One for the hull, one for the crew, and a third one for the sails. You can freely switch between different ammo types that target different parts of a ship.
In theory, this presents an interesting dynamic to consider and adds some tactical flair to the combat. In reality, targeting a ship’s sails and crew felt like it had such an unsubstantial effect on their combat ability that it was nearly always better just hit the hull and sink them faster.
Your own sails, on the other hand, matter. You aren’t just some NPC ship that will be on screen for three minutes and die. If your sails get blown, have fun sailing slowly to a port if you don’t have a repair kit.
This was made more frustrating by the very common occurrence of random tentacles that appear out of thin air. They swat your ship with the giddy glee of a five-year-old that thinks they’re gonna get away with shitting in the cat’s litter box with a turd the size of Mr. Whiskers whole head.
One slap from the ocean’s hentai collection and part of your hull, sails, and crew will take damage. It’s rarely enough to be threatening, just enough to be inconvenient and make you seek out the nearest port. It’s the digital equivalent of toothpaste falling off the brush just as you raise it to your mouth. Mildly infuriating and a waste of time.
I played on the games hard mode, called Captain. That meant that I lost the ship I was sailing if I bought it. At one point I had finished a fight with my new galleon, bruised but not beaten when one of the slimy buggers popped up to say hello.
With my new Galleon now gone alongside a ton of gold purely at the mercy of the RNG Cthulhu, I can’t say I felt like a pirate. But some rum suddenly sounded very appealing.
Walking a Teetering Plank
I can’t truly say that King of Seas is a challenging game due to the way skills function. The various skills are actually quite cool and definitely help spice up the combat. Half of them are also ludicrously broken and make your cannons somewhat redundant.
There is no cost to using a skill, it simply has a cool down. I rarely saw one longer than twenty seconds. It’s far easier to circle around a ship and continually throw a fireball at them than to put yourself in cannon range. There’s no cost to do so, and by the time you would maneuver into cannon range, the skill would be ready to use again anyway.
The AI is pretty keen on chasing your tail like a horny rabbit once you wave it at them. This allows you to drop gunpowder barrels until they go limp since they make no attempt to avoid them.
It definitely felt good to summon those stupid tentacles on other ships. But it also knocked the wind out of my sails and really disconnected me from the game itself. Using skills made most fights yet another pointless grind. But not using them distilled an already shallow game to an even more diluted experience.
It’s not all bad though. There are five classes of ship. I found it very interesting that each of them was more of a side-grade than strictly being better than the others. You always have a free Sloop, and I used it a great deal, even when I was rich. While it’s squishy, it’s maneuverable. The Flute, on the other hand, has a ton of cargo space. The giant Galleon is super slow, but packs a punch. Each one has skills exclusive to them too, which is nice.
At some point, you begin to take over forts which you can then upgrade. As you spread the rule of pirates across the sea, you end up with more allied ships sailing around and you occasionally have to defend your ports from attacks which is something I really enjoyed.
Since King of Seas is an RPG you also pick up loot in the form of cannons, ammo, crews, and hulls. But, most of it simply boiled down to generic statistical numbers. Since I played at a high difficulty, I dropped loot whenever I sank. There was even a few times that I spawned with loot that was statistically better than the loot I lost due to how the world scales.
The game constantly casts hooks to draw you in. Shipwrecks to loot, an X marks the spot, but I never really felt any kind of anticipation. It was less like finding treasure and more like digging up a jar of dirt.
King of Seas has all the ingredients to bake into a fresh riveting pirate game. It just feels like the cook tripped on deck, and seagulls flew off with some of them while leaving the others half-eaten.
While some aspects are enjoyable, they are drowned out next to the tedium and grind as they drag themselves from the shallow puddle they congealed in. That puddle, watches tentacle porn.
While I’m always eager to dawn a captain’s hat and dress questionably to step aboard a new pirate game. I feel that King of Seas is less of a ship and more of a dingy full of holes. As they say, any port in a storm, well, not this one. I can’t recommend it unless you can grab it several doubloons cheaper and really have that nautical itch.
You may also enjoy my review of Sea of Thieves: One Year Later Review.
- Five ships with unique roles
- Difficulty settings present
- Defending ports is interesting
- Most of the game’s mechanics are shallow
- The game is tedious and grindy, sometimes arbitrarily
- Loot consists of fairly bland statistical upgrades
- Skills are incredibly overpowered and makes cannon fire redundant
- The story is generic and uninteresting
- Needing to buy maps adds to the repetition and feels like a lame money sink
- Random tentacle attacks add nothing to the game but frustration