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Ship of Fools Review – Swashbuckling Action

Ship of Fools is a cooperative roguelite developed by Fika Productions and published by Team17. It features a side-scrolling nautical theme and is a quirky and cool indie game launching on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox on November 22, 2022 (November 23 for us in ANZ). You will play one of two fools, the only fools who are game enough to brave the seas.

The main gist of the game is to protect and push back the encroaching giant sea monsters who are trying to claim back the sea. A great lighthouse which protected everyone is broken. You start off washed up on a random shore and you meet a woman who seems to have had enough of the adventuring life. She hands over her ship, the Stormstrider, so you can take up the mantle of protecting and claiming back the sea from the darkness.

The game is probably best played as coop but in the review period I couldn’t find a buddy, so I played this solo as best as I could. I also didn’t realise that the first game that I played didn’t save which I was quite annoyed with due to my recent bad luck with save games. But I figured it was PEBCAC (“problem exists between chair and computer”). I played a couple more times from the start to get a feel for it. Each of the Fools have their own heirloom that imbues them with a passive ability, such as Shelbie’s soothing shell that increases fire rates and projectile speed, or Finley’s hat that unlocks a random reward every time they repair Stormstrider.

The gameplay and artwork are carefully woven together to create a fun and engaging game. It has smooth mechanics, a good introduction, and a point-and-shoot simplicity that is easy to understand and enjoy. Not that the game is simple, but you do need to plan ahead and take care of multiple things at once. As an example, your ship will take damage and you’ll need to have wood available to repair it. You’ll also need to shoot/defend your ship, reload the guns and also move the guns port and starboard to take out different foes.

The monsters are both giant, which can take up most of the screen, and small annoying monsters that fly around and are hard to hit. Not every attack will hit the ship; some will be aimed at you, and you’ll need to roll to avoid it. The movement and shooting mechanics are polished and fun with a number of different ways to hurt the enemy. This starts with shooting your cannons, using your shovel to send back projectiles and setting up unmanned cannons.

The boat can be upgraded with different cards that allow you to get more harpoons, so you can retrieve items from dead monsters, or get another pedestal (which allows you to get more ammo). The boat allows you to travel to different parts of the map, to either collect items for your ship or to go and fight back against the giant monsters trying to take over.

As you chart your way through the sector, the Everlasting Storm shifts and changes, blocking your paths with its fury. You’ll need to adjust your course in reaction to storm movements and decide when you can brave a trip to discover what lurks inside the storm. Each run will bring something new to your voyage, so you’ll be able to bolster your strength each time, ready to go again and face tougher foes from the deep blue sea. It’s just nebulous enough to keep you interested, whilst also conveying a need to defend the land from these monsters.

I have been drawn into the story and also enjoyed the engaging gameplay of Ship of Fools. It’s just that bit different enough to feel like you’re playing a new genre of a game. I am looking forward to playing more once the game releases and I can enjoy the co-op gameplay. If you’re looking for a quirky roguelite seafaring game with co-op, then this game is for you!

This review utilised a Steam key provided by the publisher and Ship of Fools will launch on November 22 (November 23 for us in ANZ) on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox.


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