Team17 continues its consistent trend of publishing high-quality indie titles. Ship of Fools is an adventure game where you brave the seas taking on all sorts of monsters from the depths. It also has rogue-lite elements.
When the game starts, you get to select if you will be playing with one or two players. Having two players isn't mandatory, but the game will be pretty difficult if you try to face the sea monsters on your own. The characters awaken on a tiny island called the Great Lighthouse, where you will begin when you start a run. Crabs and seagulls are all over the beach, and you can pick them up if you want; it doesn't really affect anything, but it is fun! You will head up to the island where you learn that the Great Lighthouse that once protected the Archipelago is broken. It's up to you — the fools who would willingly get on a ship and sail into the waters full of sea monsters — to protect your home from the incoming Aquapocalypse.
While you spend most of your time on The Stormstrider in Ship of Fools, you don’t really control it. Rather, you decide where to travel on a hex map, and then you have to react to whatever encounter pops up—and that’s more often than not a fight. The Stormstrider comes equipped with two cannons, each can be picked up and replaced, but only on the four designated cannon stations—two at starboard and two at port. Similarly, there are three cargo locations on the ship to store your loot. Anything not secured to a cargo location is lost when you change hexes. Strangely, your default ammo source takes up one of these hexes.
Let’s talk about combat. You have two cannons on your ship, each of which can be picked up and placed to aim a better-marked position on the enemy. You then need to manually load the cannon with ammo. Initially, you start with shells, but you will soon unlock more unique and creative ammo types like fireballs, oil drums and various birds that lay eggs which can then be used for ammo. It sounds silly but it’s terrific fun. We also discovered you can load your cannons with the odd seagull or crab which proved fatal to the enemies. One cannon allows you to charge a shot and if you do this with a seagull it will blast out a flurry of multiple gulls which made my shipmate and I laugh a lot.
The art style in this game is great; it looks hand-drawn and is incredibly charming. Ship of Fools has a great sense of humour, making it fun to play regardless of age. The playable characters look cute, and I love the designs of the enemies. There isn't a massive variety of enemies, but I was okay with that, especially when you get to the boss battles and you see how cool they look. The music is catchy and full of songs that remind me of sea shanties that pirates and sailors would sing while at sea, just without the singing part. Plus, who doesn't want to play Lotte, who looks like an axolotl?
While Ship of Fools is definitely fun to play with friends, it didn’t keep me hooked like some roguelikes. It feels like it’s a little light on content, and that we saw most everything there was to see after a couple of hours of gameplay. It possesses an art style and charm that vaguely reminds me of Don’t Starve, but it wasn’t enough to keep going.
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