Here at IndieGameBuzz we’re always on the look out for promising indie games in development. One such game is from Oliver Joyce, the creative mind behind the hit web game series Swords and Sandals from way back in the glory days of Flash. Oliver has written a few guest reviews for us and we thought we’d return the favour by checking out his ambitious adventure RPG Ships and Scurvy.
This week we tried out a preview PC build of Ships and Scurvy and had a blast. So without further ado let’s go through the game!
Firstly, you find yourself watching a little intro video about your sailor, let’s call him Captain Bollocks MacGuffin. Apparently he was a bit of a bastard and got yanked off his ship, devoured by a sea monster and spat out on an island. It’s a short and sweet introduction and really has a ‘Swords & Sandals’ feel to it. The graphics are rough and cartoony but have an endearing colour and charm to them – and there’s plenty of customisation, right down to choosing a family crest for your sailor.
There’s a talking coconut who guides you through the introduction. You find ingredients for a raft by playing a little chance minigame, and then you’re ambushed by a native tribe. These land battles are pretty fun turn based affairs. You give orders to your captain, the enemy chooses a troop and both rush into the middle of the screen and hack at each other. As you build up your crew, you can give orders to other troops, big hulking heavy troops or glass cannon type ranged troops.
Soon enough, the tutorial is over and you find yourself sailing on a raft through a big blue ocean – you steer left or right by tapping the mouse, though the raft is pretty useless and breaks up just as you reach the first port. Each island has a bunch of things to do, from shopping and upgrading your ship to drinking in taverns or exploring the island in a ‘choose your own adventure’ style screen.
One adventure saw our crew forced to choose whether to follow a crazy looking fellow through the jungle. He offered us help, but then turned on us in an ambush that killed all the crew. On another adventure we encountered some folks who looked suspiciously like the cast from Lost, complete with cool little pencil sketches of Jack and Locke.
The game is surprisingly tough. You die a lot – sometimes you starve to death, sometimes your crew mutiny if you don’t treat them well. When you respawn, you lose a percentage of your gold, and all of the crew you had, but you keep your ship. You learn pretty quickly that your crew are expendable, and that its all about upgrading your captain.
Each night you go to sleep and, depending on how you performed during the day’s adventures, you gain XP and can level up skills like “Mining”, “Fishing” and so on to help you gather stuff. Other skills like “Drunkard” allow you to get secrets from tavern keepers. There seems to be a pretty good range of skills but we’re told there is a lot more still to add.
The game is about 60% complete, with a dungeon crawl roguelike section and a bunch of quests still to add, but already it feels like a big sprawling game that oozes charm. The best thing about indie games is they prove you don’t need fancy graphics or triple A budgets to make games that keep you coming back.