Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale is a mix of strategy and turn-based combat on the Caribbean high seas, developed by Gaming Minds Studios and published by Kalypso Media and launched on January 19, 2023, on Epic Games Store, Xbox and PlayStation. This is the team that bought us Port Royale 4 in 2020 and the gameplay of Tortuga gives the player that satisfying taste of the pirate life.
Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Sea of Thieves would be the last good pirate games that I have sunk my teeth into. There is something about the sea, a ship and a tall star to sail her by and a game that captures that simple freedom is quite intoxicating to play. Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale starts you off as a new pirate Captain out to seek their fame and riches by searching for a lost Spanish treasure that you want to get your hands on. The game gives you a fairly straightforward tutorial that gets your mind around the game mechanics.
Tortuga has an interesting learning curve but quickly becomes a lot of fun. It is not as simple as sailing your ship around the ocean and blasting away at other ships that get too close. There are a lot of factors you must consider and manage, and different sized ships have different pros and cons. Smaller ships are fast and agile, while the larger ships can be outfitted with many more cannons so will sail and turn slower. The game wants you to be part of the world rather than just annihilating it and becoming the pirate overlord of the seas. The tactics and strategy you must think about makes for some interesting gameplay. One wrong move in combat and it’s to down to Davy Jones’ locker for you.
You also must consider the morale of your crew; don’t pay them enough they’ll get less inclined to follow you and make you walk the plank … pay them too much and they’ll expect it all the time. You can outfit and customise your ship to your playstyle; need a ship capable of sinking a merchant ship in one salvo? Then head to a port and buy yourself some long nine cannons to get the job done. Not only can you upgrade your flagship, but you can also capture other ships you come across instead of sinking them. Those ships too can be customised to how you want them to operate on the open seas as you amass your own fleet to strike fear into the heart of the Caribbean.
Building up your fleet, recruiting new Captains and crew is vital to success in Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale. Heading into a local port also has several interesting aspects. Low on sailors? Then head to the tavern and buy a round for any would-be sailors wanting to join your crew. You can also meet with informants and other interesting folk that can give you missions and tips on a big score. Each port gives you the opportunity as well to sell unwanted cargo. Depending on your reputation depends on how well you are received at various ports.
Selling items at a port that thinks your scum will cause the merchants to give you less for your goods. On the other hand, selling goods at a port that love you and your crew will net some very healthy profits. I am a big fan of turn based combat and the strategy involved in winning the fight. Once you raise your black flag and engage with another ship, the game puts you into a decent sized combat area where you battle it out in turns. Levelling up your character and your Captains opens up special abilities that you can use to end a battle more quickly and secure that lucrative loot. I have had my pirate butt handed to me plenty of times during my time in the game. Thinking I have them and then the battle turning, and it is me sinking to the bottomless depths.
Overall, I think Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale is a well put together game with ship-to-ship combat, management of resources and relationships. I would have liked to have seen more combat graphic effects and little extras like your own ship’s crew singing sea shanties as they sail the open the sea. You can hear passing ships singing shanties though which is interesting, and the developers have added little touches like this that can really absorb you into your gameplay experience. Outside of that I can see myself sinking many more hours into the game … I mean into the enemy and stealing their loot… YARRRRRRRRRRR!