If you’re a fan of Slay the Spire and are looking for a new card-based battler to keep you occupied, we’ve got good news: there’s a new one now available on console.
The game in question is Pirates Outlaws, developed by Fabled Game. And after being on PC since 2019, it’s finally available on PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. This pirate-themed roguelike is clearly heavily inspired by Slay the Spire and, although it does include some of its own original ideas, it’s perhaps a little too like its inspiration to truly stand on its own two feet.
Like Slay the Spire, Pirates Outlaws gives you only one character to play as to begin with. Entering a map, you can choose your own path, navigating between combat, treasure, taverns to rest in and shops to buy new cards at. As you play, you’ll unlock new characters – eventually, there’s a whopping 18, each with their own unique perks. The problem is, however, that unlocking most of them requires a serious time commitment. You’ll likely find yourself stuck with the default pirate for a considerable amount of time.
It’s not too much of a problem, though: he’s competent enough, and his special ability – to reload one ammo each turn – comes in handy. You see, rather than costing energy, turns in Pirates Outlaws cost ammo, and it’s here where the game tries to set itself apart from its counterparts. Each turn you’ll have a set amount of ammo, and any gun-based attack will have an ammo cost. Rather than needing to wait until your next turn to refill ammo, you’ll be able to play ammo cards to reload – providing you’ve got some in your hand. If you haven’t, not all is lost: you can carry out melee attacks without ammo. And, of course, you’ll also have various defence cards to protect yourself from incoming attacks – though these inexplicably have an ammo cost, too.
Related: The Best Games Like Slay the Spire
Just like Slay the Spire, you can anticipate your opponents’ next move, so you’ll need to act accordingly. If they’re going to attack, you’ll want to block them (or destroy them before they have chance). And if they’re going to block, you’ll want to get in as many hits while you can. It adds a nice bit of strategy to proceedings, although often you feel at the mercy of lady luck: if you don’t have the right cards in your hands, there’s not much you can do to avoid taking damage.
Another way Pirates Outlaws tries to set itself apart from the crowd is by introducing energy as you progress through the map. You’ll move your ship from one event to another, but each movement has an energy cost. Run out of energy, and you can’t progress any further. And so you’ll need to plan your route carefully, replenishing your energy when you’re at a rest stop – providing you can afford it, of course.
We’re pleasantly surprised by the amount of content in Pirates Outlaws. This isn’t just a three-act game to make your way through: there are multiple levels to unlock, each with increasing difficulty. You earn experience to unlock these each time you play, but once again you’ll need to play a lot before you’ve even unlocked one new level. It’s a shame it’s not a little more generous to begin with, but it does at least reward long-term players. After all, this is the sort of game you’ll likely want to keep coming back to, playing “just one more run” to see if you can get that bit further each time.
Ultimately, if you’re a fan of Slay the Spire, you’ll undoubtedly get a kick out of Pirates Outlaws. It’s a solid entry into the roguelike card-based battler genre, but we just can’t shake the feeling it’s a little too much like its inspirations to really stand out. Still, it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for more Slay the Spire-type action, it’ll do a decent job of scratching that itch.