Scarlet Sails

I had high hopes going into this one. Who doesn't love swashbuckling, piratical tales of adventure? The "about" text provided warnings of sex and violence, "because pirates" -- an old joke, but it still made me laugh.

So, we're pirates, and we have access to one of three different forms of magic. There is a notorious pirate villain on the high seas, and it soon emerges that there is also a treasure to be found if we could figure out the map. Our ambition is to make it big as pirate, and possibly retire ... or not. It's also possible to form a romantic attachment with up as many as any two of the four relatively friendly NPCs.

I find that the design of the plot could stand a bit more work. The villainous pirate captain is dispatched about midway through the game, after which we concentrate on finding the treasure, which in turn leads to victory. There's a surprise revelation of identity at that midgame battle, too, and while it does lead to the expansion of our fleet and the improvement of our status, it also means that we effectively trade in one master for another. If our primary goal was to be top dog on Mount Piratical, it never comes to fruition, at least not by our own efforts; if it was just to be the captain of our own ship, well, didn't that happen about a quarter of the way in, when we took that merchant ship? I don't know, maybe I'm being a bit of a gloryhound here (what swashbuckler isn't?) but I have this uncomfortable feeling that we are, at best, a secondary character in someone else's story.

The writing, meanwhile, seems a little inconsistent. It's competent for the most part, but I get the impression that the author had a specific thread in mind for the story, and anything beyond that did not get quite as much effort as that main thread. The romance subplots, for instance, feel more than a bit tacked-on, handled in a very matter-of-fact manner that doesn't gel with the rest of the story. And the winning epilogues that I did see all felt more like placeholders.

For all that, though, I did enjoy the game. Because pirates.

Hardtack biscuits and bananas ahoy, and coconut water straight out of the coconut. Arr!