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Curse of the Sea Rats review

Curse of the Sea Rats Review

As if it isn’t bad enough being taken prisoner, the four characters available to you in Curse of the Sea Rats have also been turned into rats.

The nefarious pirate witch, Flora Burn, is to blame. And she’s also kidnapped the son of your captor. As the captain of the ship that now needs repairs after Flora’s attack, he issues you an ultimatum: save his cherished child and you can have your freedom, and perhaps also break the curse so you can become human again. And so begins Curse of the Sea Rats, a hand-animated metroidvania adventure.

Curse of the Sea Rats can seem overly harsh at first. You’ll encounter enemies that can decimate your health bar in just a few attacks, putting the game’s mechanics under scrutiny. You’re likely to decide that it feels unbalanced in ways, leading to frustration that doesn’t make a good impression. But stick with it, and over time it’s something that becomes less of an issue.

Each of the four characters available to you here is fairly unique, offering their own special moves and more. The surly Bussa, for example, is the only character that can block attacks, and thanks to his ability to self-heal he’s a good choice for the game’s early hours. Other characters such as David Douglas and Akane Yamakawa rely on parrying to capitalise on enemy attacks, and thanks to some enhanced traversal skills picked up later in the game, perhaps become better overall.

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We found some chests, for example, that were nearly impossible to reach as Bussa, forcing us to switch to another character. It’s easily done at one of the game’s safe areas where you can also develop your skills using the experience you’ve accumulated. Though there is one important caveat: while all characters level up regardless of whether you’re using them or not, experience spent to acquire upgrades and skills is shared between them. So, if you use all of your points to improve one character, then switch, you’ll have to do some grinding to get them up to scratch.

Aside from its four protagonist setup, though, there’s little else that’s unique about Curse of the Sea Rats. Like all metroidvanias, it has multiple themed areas, all connected together via one sprawling map. It’s also got a vendor, warp rooms, and numerous upgrades to be acquired that allow you to access new areas and reach previously unobtainable goodies. It’s metroidvania 101.

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One thing that does stand out is the game’s art style, which marries hand-drawn characters with 3D environments. The former are absolutely wonderful, being expertly drawn and animated, bringing characters to life. The latter, however, are rather disappointing. Playing Curse of the Sea Rats on PS5, environments are bland and exhibit an abundance of aliasing, bringing your exploits down a little.

Overall, Curse of the Sea Rats is a perfectly playable metroidvania that feels rough around the edges. Mechanically it can feel a little unfair at times due to things like stiff animations and unfortunate enemy placements. And while its four protagonist set up is a neat touch, it can be a grind to upgrade skills if you do decide to change. Still, fans of the genre are likely to enjoy their time with it.

Curse of the Sea Rats Review – GameSpew’s Score

GameSpew Our Score 6

This review of Curse of the Sea Rats is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, box One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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