Pixel Piracy is an open-ended pirate simulator that has an interesting visual style and some unique gameplay mechanics. The game sees you exploring areas for gold, building up a crew, your ship and maintain all aspects of your character. The game was released on Steam in Early Access almost two years ago but now has finally come to Xbox One and PS4.
My first impressions when jumping into the game were fairly positive and I liked the overall style and presentation of the world. There doesn’t seem to be that many game out there that allow you to play as a pirate and build up a crew, with RPG elements. The game is rogue-like and has permadeath, with some challenging game mechanics. The game might appear to have a lot going on but really there is no story and after a while it can become a little repetitive.
The game starts out pretty simple, and you have to choose your character’s name and appearance. The characters are presented in a quirky, pixelated style and the game does a good job of offering plenty of character styles and outfits to choose from. Also the game has a mini, multi choice system at the start, which determines the background story to your character. This is also where you can set the difficulty for the game, I went for normal mode. There are some brief tutorials that include how to move from your ship to islands and recruiting ship-mates.
You start out on a very simplistic ship, which is pretty much just a floating platform. It’s vital to explore islands and gather loot to improve your crew and build up your ship. More loot means that you can also build up a much larger crew, and therefore become more powerful. You use your map to select what islands to head to in search of loot and equipment. These areas can include green islands, blue cities and the red icons show where enemies are located. If you’re looking to buy and sell items and hire new crew members, you need to head to the large cities. It’s also worth spending time exploring the smaller islands, as often they can have loot chests and enemies to kill, who also drop some useful supplies. Enemy pirates all have a ranking and its important to take on the lower ranked enemies at first and then work your way up. What I loved about challenging an enemy ship is that if you manage to defeat the pirates on board, you can take their ship for your own crew. This is very satisfying and a quick way of upgrading your ship.
I found that I upgraded and expanded my crew fairly quickly. Its also important to maintain your crew and keep them happy if you want them to carry out your orders. The controls in the game are pretty simple but I had to take a little bit of time to fully make use of all of the options. You direct your crew members by using the right analogue stick to bring up the cursor and then use the trigger to instruct them to move or attack. It’s important to remember to feed your crew and keep plenty of supplies during the game. The game is heavily focused on inventory management and checking supplies.
Pretty much everything in the game can be upgraded, including your ship, crew and yourself. There are various attributes you can upgrade like health, strength, luck and weapons. You can also upgrade ship parts like the sails for example. The game has a good amount of depth in terms of RPG mechanics and system management, it’s just a shame that the game doesn’t really have much of a story. The game is great for sitting back and taking slowly and I’m sure that people will enjoy the structured gameplay.
The game is good at throwing you straight into the mechanics and you will find you can quickly start to upgrade and improve, which ultimately feels rewarding. You can save the game but you can also very easily lose crew members. Like the game Darkest Dungeon, you can head to the local tavern to recruit new members of your crew. All being said, there is plenty here to keep you occupied and make you want to keep on improving. I would have liked to have seen a bit more enemy variety and combat options but the RPG elements add a good amount of depth.
The overall presentation of the game looks good, with nice simple pixel art style and vibrant colours. The game runs smoothly and has a fantastic retro feel to it. The game isn’t trying to be graphically amazing but manages to nail the simple but uniquely stylized theme. The sound design is also worth mentioning and suits the game style well.
Overall Pixel Piracy is a decent pirate RPG experience with a good amount of things to see and do. The upgrading and management systems are the highlight and core part of the game and kept me entertained for a good amount of time. I really enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing my crew and ship grow and become stronger. There could have been more focus on some sort of narrative but the gameplay is fun enough. I would certainly recommend this title if you like games like Terraria or Nom Nom Galaxy.
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