Trash Sailors Review: Moist and Sticky

Trash Sailors Overview

It may not seem like it at first glance. But Trash Sailors is very much a party game in the same vein as Overcooked and similar titles. You might be sailing a raft, fighting off pirates and hungry alligators, but crisis management is the name of the game. The crisis is everything, and you’re the management!

You can find a video version of this review on my YouTube Channel.

The engine needs refueling, the raft needs steering, the guns manned and the crabs kicked off the deck. All while collecting trash from the waters in order to craft the scrap required to keep you high and dry.

Large waves approach the players raft in Trash Sailors.
Don’t get swept off your feet, or the raft!

It’s a frantic game condensed into the small area that is your raft. It takes a team effort to keep the raft in ship shape, although you can sail the game alone or with friends in local or online co-op.

Bias and Game Information

Visuals & Story

Trash Sailors certainly makes a strong first impression with its delightfully charming storybook art style. Its unique look sticks with it from beginning to end and really makes it pop on screen.

There is some kind of story at play, but I couldn’t tell you what it is. The game is as weird as it is charming. What the fluck was uttered a great many times as I played. From tub-wearing men flying to my raft by flapping their arms, to a grinder that talks. The two-person dev team known as Flucky Machine made certain that their game stands out.

Gameplay

The goal of every level is to get to the end while also grabbing maps along the way. The engine needs fuel but once it’s roaring. There’s no stopping the raft unless you sink, run out of fuel, or buy an anchor.

A Trash Aailors Upgrade Menu allowing players to choose between three upgrades.
You can outfit the raft with various upgrades.

Wrecking into things is naturally a poor strategy for staying out of the water. So, steering the raft is fundamental to success. Multiple players can grab the wheel at one time to spin it faster, or the heavier characters can jump on the sides to give it a little tilt.

As I mentioned before, Trash Sailors is all about crisis management, and steering clear of obstacles is only a part of it. The raft will come under attack by all manner of enemies. Waves will sweep the crew away, and when the sun goes down the spiders come out to play.

Players have to keep the raft repaired, themselves healthy, and the lights on all while fighting off all manner of foe and traps. This is in addition to collecting trash to be ground into scrap. Scrap is required to repair the raft itself and to load weapons such as cannons.

Crisis Management

The grinder is picky and will give you different recipes, granting you more scrap if you feed it the right junk. But each recipe is only live for a short amount of time before the grinder switches gears.

Managing so many factors leads to a very chaotic and frantic game of running around the raft screaming while trying to do several things at once, and never being able to do them all.

Players engage a speed boat using cannons on their raft.
Using the cannons is one of many tasks you will have to juggle.

Like any good party game. The result is a stressful type of fun where failure can be as entertaining as a success if you’re in the right mood and company for that kind of thing. You will no longer finish fighting off a swarm of boarding tribal warriors only to realize you are about to smash into a tree or miss a map that’s vital to your progress and frantically try to address the situation.

Maybe you’re reeling in a treasure chest only to get snagged by a noose trap, and it’s amusing most of the time. You have to constantly adapt and split your time and effort between reeling in the trash, fighting, repairing, steering, and keeping the lights on. It all makes for an entertaining experience.

Ups and Downs

Trash Sailor’s core gameplay loop is fast, to the point, and fun. Every level takes around 10 minutes. The game is quick to learn, giving it a great pick-up and play value, especially in local co-op.

Each level compounds the game’s great gameplay with new hazards and obstacles to contend with. One minute you’re dodging geysers and volcanic rocks, while another level has you exchanging cannon fire with attack boats. The enemy types and how they function are a lot of fun. A hefty walrus on deck shifts the entire raft to the side, for example. That kind of variety keeps the game fresh.

Spiders attack the raft at night In Trash Sailors.
Let the lights go out and the spiders will pay you a visit.

Each of the four characters has different attacks, strengths, and weaknesses, and you can upgrade your raft with new gizmos by collecting money, which is nice!

Poor Controls

Trash Sailors is, unfortunately, a game of highs and lows. It does many things really well, but its strong points are continually cut short due to a few significant flaws.

Sadly the fun is often impacted by frustrating controls. Nearly every action is mapped to one button, and they can’t be rebound. The raft is a pretty small area. It’s entirely too common to accidentally throw out a net when you meant to grab a cannon. Or to pick up scrap when you meant to repair, or to accidentally perform two dozen other things while frantically trying to climb the mast and turn on the light before the night spiders eat your face.

When things get hectic, the issue is compounded as it can be difficult to see what you’re trying to do in the first place and can take several seconds before you realize you accidentally did the wrong thing. I have more patience for these issues than Abbee does, and it hurt her experience a lot more. She mostly kept steering the raft while I handled the rest, so she didn’t have to struggle to perform the other actions.

Trash Sailors Player Options & Accessibility

The game can be played solo, but you have to control a second character. Its implementation works well enough, but I can’t say it was fun. The chaos of the game went from joyful to overwhelming, and while I had no problem completing levels solo, the charm simply wasn’t there.

The Trash Sailors accessibility options menu.
Plenty of ways to lower the difficulty, but no way to raise it.

Finally, Trash Sailors is on the easy side. We never needed health kits and usually completed levels on the first try. The game features an incredible variety of options to scale the game downward. From lowering the damage you take, to even making yourself immortal or the raft unbreakable.

Those granular accessibility options are great, but it was disappointing that there were no options to adjust it in the other direction and increase the challenge. This is especially problematic because the game is short, it only took us around 4 hours, and we hadn’t even bought all the upgrades.

You could get more mileage of it by doing the speed run challenges, or collecting all the maps, but that’s not going to carry you much farther.

Trash Sailors Verdict

Trash Sailors can be a great if short experience depending on how well you tolerate the control scheme. Most actions being tied to one button makes it impossible to ignore or avoid.

Trash Sailors managed to enter the party game genre with a unique flair and gameplay style that’s fun when it’s not being held back by other issues. But, if you happen to get hooked, it’s over when you’re just getting started.

Players sail a raft through a flooded Jungle in Trash Sailors.
Do it for the vine!

Trash Sailor’s frantic gameplay and variety of hazards and enemies certainly elevate it above the heap of a dumpster dive. But the frustrating controls and lack of challenge mean it still smells a bit after taking it home.

My Perspective On Trash Sailors

Trash Sailors checks two of my gripe boxes pretty heavily. The first is a lack of challenge with no way to change it, and the second is being relatively short. Some people want short games, and that’s fine. I don’t, especially when a lack of challenge allows me to blow through it so much quicker.

On the flip side, I really enjoy Trash Sailor’s gameplay and art style. It’s possibly my favorite take on the party game genre far, from a gameplay perspective, at least. The controls are something that could be patched in the future too, which would wipe away a massive part of what’s bringing it down.

I might want a longer, harder version of it, but there’s definitely an audience for this game as it stands. Especially if the controls receive a nice patch.

You might also enjoy my review of Embr.

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Pros

  • Awesome storybook art-style
  • Working together to keep the raft afloat and on track amid a variety of dangers is a ton of fun
  • The enemy, hazard, and level variety keep things fresh
  • Easy to pick up and play
  • A variety of accessibility options to tone down the game’s challenge

Cons

  • One button is mapped to many actions which cause mishaps and, frustration
  • There’s no option to increase the difficulty
  • Playing alone isn’t entertaining
  • The game is relatively short

Who Would Like Trash Sailors?

  • If control issues don’t bother you much and you want a charmingly unique party game.Trash Sailors has a lot to love.
  • If you need an approachable game to play with kids or casual gamers, Trash Sailors has the option to let you tailor that experience.
  • Need a game that works great with local co-op using controllers? Trash Sailors has you covered.
  • Do you enjoy other party games such as Overcooked? There’s a good chance you will like Trash Sailors.

Who Wouldn’t Like Trash Sailors?

  • If you need a challenge to fully enjoy a game and are an experienced gamer, Trash Sailors will leave you wanting.
  • Do you need a game to last you a while? Trash Sailors won’t, it can be completed in a single sitting.
  • If you get frustrated by a game not doing what you intended when you push a button, the control issues in Trash Sailors could be a deal-breaker for you.