King of Seas is a fantastic isometric pirate action game with a good story and plenty of loot to plunder. It’s great for short bursts or long loot hauls as I worked towards the next best ship.
King of Seas is an isometric pirate action roleplaying game developed by 3DClouds and published by Team17 Digital. It released on May 25, 2021 on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch and this review is based on the Steam version. King of Seas is an epic pirate adventure in a procedurally generated world dotted with ship fights, lost islands, treasures and more. If you have played games like Windward or the Port Royale series, this will feel familiar, though Sea of Thieves this is not. It has the simple controls and chilled vibe from Windward as well as some lighter trading elements compared with Port Royale.
There are five game difficulties to choose from, each with progressively harder game conditions. I chose the second difficulty, titled Gunner, where if I die, I do not lose my inventory. I am glad for having chosen this one because I did end up dying a lot as I learnt the combat mechanics, using wind and speed to my advantage, and learning that if you start to shoot at a ship close to a city, their defenses will annihilate you. It is best to keep combat to the high seas but beware of storms and a random Kraken tentacle that does decent damage.
You choose to play as either the daughter of the King of Seas, Marylou, or her little brother, Luky, and set out on a voyage to deliver gunpowder to a port not too far from home, prior to your coming-of-age celebrations. However, upon return, you find that your father the King has been murdered and you have been framed for his murder. You try to flee but your small sloop is no match for the armada and your ship is blown up. You manage to wash ashore and are taken in by a band of pirates who want to help teach you the ways of being a pirate, and one day hopefully restore your name.
The game’s controls are limited to the recommended controller or just the keyboard. There is no mouse interaction at all, and menus are navigated by the keyboard/controller. It only felt clunky initially setting up the game, but once in-game it was fine navigating your ship and shooting turrets with the keyboard. Pressing W will raise each of the three sails and then S to take them down. When you are in port, navigating the menu items such as traders, market, tavern etc took a little getting used to on keyboard but you do get used to it. The up and down arrows can zoom the game’s view in and out so you can get up close, but in most battles, I needed to know my surroundings so I stayed zoomed all the way out for most of the game. It was cool though to zoom in to inspect new ship parts or new ships when I got them.
There’s no voice acting in King of Seas, and early quests are simple fetch and deliver quests, with each showing a big red X on the map when you focus on that quest in the journal. Initially the map is all under a shroud of fog and there are only a couple of known landmarks. You need to find cartographer stations where you can purchase a map to the area around it. Otherwise, you are free to sail around looking for other islands and cities to trade goods or to visit taverns to do side quests. Occasionally I clicked on a quest and couldn’t see the red X, and it took me a while to learn that it was because I hadn’t fulfilled the quest objectives yet – usually to collect X amount of a commodity first.
You do need to keep an eye out for obstacles and pirates while playing King of Seas. You will also see flotsam and lost sailors that you can collect for xp, items and crew members, as well as shipwrecks which can be blown up for more loot. There are also red barrels floating in the current. Take it from me, these are not loot and instead are exploding barrels. I found that out the hard way! The UI has some indicators in the bottom left of the screen which shows blue for sails, red for hull and yellow for crew members. As you fight at sea, other pirates can use varying weapon types and target these three areas to try take you down.
If you have some repair kits in your ship’s hold, you can do some at-sea repairing in a stationary position though you cannot repair during combat. Using wind and dropping/raising your sails to make tighter turns means combat can be quite active and fun. It is not just about circling around each other waiting for the cannons to recharge. There are some good strategies you can use, particularly if you are under attack from several ships at once.
I died numerous times in the early levels of King of Seas as I learned the combat mechanics. After gaining a few levels and looting some good items, I was able to learn about using wind and speed to my advantage. Before I knew it, I was level 20 and able to pick and choose my fights and had upgraded my ship to a Flute which has much higher cargo carrying capacity which was useful for trade missions to make more gold. I found I never struggled to have enough gold to do what I wanted. Loot was easy to come by and I found most of my upgrades, then sold the rest for more gold.
The main story is enjoyable to progress, and I often took breaks from it to do a heap of side quests for new upgrades and gold. This helped me slow down, discover more cartographer stations and just have some good chilled fun. Even if I only had 30-45 minutes to game, I always logged out feeling I achieved something, and I was keen to continue my progress next time. 3DClouds and Team17 have also revealed the post launch roadmap for King of Seas kicking off towards the end of June with a PC Tech update featuring re-bindable keys and following that there will be a quality of life update, Monster update and mouse support all on the way. More information on the roadmap can be found here.
Overall, King of Seas is a fantastic isometric pirate action game with a good story and plenty of loot to plunder. It’s great for short bursts or long loot hauls as I worked towards the next best ship. I played on the middle tier of difficulty and although I died a lot, I never got frustrated with the difficulty as it was just my lack of accuracy with the cannons. I missed not being able to use the mouse at all, even in menus, but keyboard or controller worked well enough in-game. If you’ve played games like Windward or Port Royale, King of Seas will be very familiar, and if you’re new to the game, it eases you into the pirate life very well.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis