Burly Men at Sea revels in it’s simplicity. From the styalised vector art to the satisfying but characterful stories it tells. The story begins with the discovery of a map in a glass bottle, however the map shows nothing of interest, only the large vast briny sea. You soon begin to realise this is just a metaphor for pure unadulterated adventure. The kind of adventure that doesn’t need any justification accept for the adventure itself. Cast away your ideas of exploring for the sake of a treasure pile, or to become famous.
This isn’t about that, it’s about the process of going on adventure. Something we can all relate to when we set ourselves short or long-term goals. When you do something as a means to an end, it can be far too easy to get disappointed when we finally reach your goal. That is the mindset you should set when you play Burly Men at Sea, enjoy the journey itself, otherwise you might feel a bit let down.
Each of the three Burly Men have a distinct personality type, brave, steady and hasty. Possibly another metaphor for our mind stuck between decisions. None of these feelings or personality types are right or wrong, some are best suited for different situations. The story nicely shows this as the different characters chime in with their thoughts. The key thing is they always stay side by side, sometimes they’ll disagree but never will they abandon one another.
The gameplay interaction of Burly Men at Sea is limited and obscure but in a rather refreshing way. There will come numerous points in your adventure when you have a choice of what to do, or where to go next. These choices aren’t a simple menu options however, they’re slightly obscure, a few times it wasn’t clear if I was making a decision or not. This is brilliant for multiple play-throughs, as it maintains a level of mystery. You’re never certain of the numerous branches this story can tell.
Multiple play-throughs aren’t a basic boon of re-playability either, they are woven into the design of the game. You are expected to play the game numerous times and perform different decisions, one story usually only takes about 10 minutes. The more you play, more options open up, some parts you will have to repeat but the game respects this and the dialogue changes accordingly. Although it did feel a little bit slow at times.
Brain&Brain present the game in a sort of “bubble” dragging this bubble reveals the scenery around you and also acts as movement. It’s a unique way of presentation that works perfectly with the minimalist style. It would also work even better on a touch screen device. Additionally the sound effects and music are just as charming as it looks. The majority of the sound is done through voice alone. Hearing the little “chink” of a blacksmith using his hammer on an anvil made me grin from ear to ear.
However it’s very important to note this game was originally made for tablets and mobiles. Unfortunately playing on a PC this really shows, dragging the mouse to move is awkward and I had many issues with mouse sensitivity. Looking on the forums there wasn’t an easy fix either. This greatly hampered my experience, it gave me a huge disconnect between the beautiful style of the game and the annoying lagging mouse movements.
All in all, I really can’t recommend this on PC. It’s clear with the whimsical 10 minute stories this is perfect for a tablet. I can imagine sat up in my bed, chuckling to myself at the brilliant writing, casually playing a story or two before going to sleep. And let me tell you the writing is lovely, it has a rare mix of innocent humour, wonder and morals. It’s almost like an Aesop’s fable for the modern age. For me it just didn’t fit with sitting upright at my desktop computer. I wouldn’t advise touching this on PC, but if you can grab it on a tablet it’s highly recommended.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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