Open waters, sea shanties and ample amounts of rum. You know what? The life of a pirate may not be all that bad.
For those who want to sample the life of a pirate, the newly released Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale does what we imagine is a decent job. Here, players are tasked with choosing a pirate Captain to represent, and then keep control of an expectant crew as they seek to rule the seas. Be successful and you’ll be rich. Come up short and all you’ll be in charge of thereafter is scrubbing the poop deck… or worse.
With your sights set on raiding a fleet carrying cargo of a value you could only dream of, your aim in Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale is to develop your own fleet powerful enough to stand a chance of going up against it. You’ve a long way to go, though. Aside from developing your own ship, equipping it with more powerful cannons and suchlike, you’ve also got to recruit more captains and acquire ships for them to command. All the while, you’ve got to keep those under you happy lest they turn against you.
Thankfully Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale eases you in rather well, allowing you to get to grips with the basics in no time at all. Within minutes you’ll be in control of your ship, sailing the seas with your fellow salty dogs. However, your first violent encounter with a passing ship that you’re keen to relieve of its goods may quickly give you a false sense of security.
As you’d expect, naval combat plays a large role in Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale. You can approach any nearby ship with the aim of plundering its goods, and while combat often ensues, you do get a chance to try to intimidate your target into wilfully handing over their cargo first. If for some reason you decide your act of piracy is ill-judged or not worth your time, you can also decide to turn around and simply sail away.
Choose combat, and you’ll find that it plays out in a turn- based manner. What complicates matters here, however, is the laborious nature of maneouvering your ships. Due to their large turning circles, getting them into prime position to attack with their side-mounted cannons can be a task. And then there’s momentum to consider: the more distance covered by a ship in one turn, the more it will be forced to move in the next.
While simple on the surface then, the combat in Tortuga – A Pirate’s Life can be very challenging, especially when you also have to consider the optimum ranges of your equipped armaments. And to add further complexity, you’ll be wanting to board as many ships in order to overrun them rather than outright destroy them. And that requires successfully managing your manpower.
Being a pirate doesn’t mean your life has to revolve around conflict, though. You can amass considerable wealth by engaging in trade if you wish, sailing from port to port with your goods, buying low and selling high. You can also take on various jobs, ranging from acting as an escort to taxiing passengers. As long as you’re making your crew happy, either by giving them plenty of coin or fulfilling your agreed exploits, you’re golden.
Your time with Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale won’t always be merry though. Navigating the seas can feel a bit lifeless, for example, making travelling long distances a bit dull. The controls can also be a bit clunky at times, too. It’s also not fun being preyed on by fleets that vastly outpower you, leaving you either picking yourself up after suffering great losses, or losing considerable progress unless you recently saved.
Does Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale fulfil all our piracy-based fantasies? Not really – we’d kill for some sort of additional on-land adventuring. For those who’d like to focus on sailing the seas, however, it’s sure to tick many boxes. Especially so if they gel with its unique turn based battles that really reward thoughtful movement and positioning.