by Howie Howard
reviewed on PC
Pirate Outlaws is an adventure, fighting and strategy based game developed and produced by indie game house Fabled Game. It's a card deck-building affair that requires the player to explore selected maps in order to gain additional cards, renown, and treasure. As progression is accomplished better cards can be collected and added to inventory. This allows the player to advance passed the bosses and to move onto more difficult challenges.
New players start by creating a character and a random set of beginning cards are allocated. The game is broken down into chapters that carry pirate-themed names such as Pirate Bay, Skull Island, and others. While navigating the map you encouter various islands inhabited by enemy pirate fighters with backup units that act as support for the fighters. Then a boss appears and it needs to be defeated. The enemies come in three different flavors and those are human, undead, and specters. not all of the races are present on all of the maps but you can probably guess what you will be facing by the names of each chapter.
Arrgh... It's A Fight To The Bitter End Matey!
As your hero makes their way around some very challenging seas, they will come upon various islands. Most of the islands require fighting, however there are islands that contain a respite from combat such as taverns and markets. These allow the pirate to sell off weaker cards and other items collected along the way. Coins are gained and the coins can be used to purchase additional cards or HP. Remember that all pirate actions such as using a pistol in battle are cards and they must be available in the card deck. The deck is reshuffled before each battle round starts. If a needed card isn't in the drawn deck then the pirate will have to hope it comes up in the next reshuffle. So don't get rid of the use sword card when it comes time to thin out inventory because it might come in handy. Movement around the main map while sailing is not unlimited because the ship has a set amount of action points.
Like in most, if not all fighting games, there is a boss at the end of each stage and the boss will be a lot more difficult to defeat than the ordinary enemies. It's no different in Pirate Outlaws. The boss must be defeated for the next chapter to become available. Most of the bosses come with special abilities and the player will have no idea what they are until after they are fought for the first time. The bosses can be very difficult, especially in later chapters and it may take more than one attempt at trying to defeat a boss. Once you know what the bosses special abilities are then the outcome will depend on the best usage of your deck. Winning battles gains the player renown, which is used to open other areas.
Pirate Events Really Are A Big Deal
Other island locations are called Events and they may contain treasure chests, relics, or important chapter cards that will be needed to win the stage. The event islands require a battle. Speaking of battles, there are a lot of them. After winning a battle the opportunity to loot the vanquished enemy's items become available. However, inventory space is limited so it's imperative that you choose items wisely. If your play style is to enter battle with lots of protective gear, then pick shiels and armor. If the tactic is a fast attack then grab as many different weapons as possible. One aspect of the game that I like is that there are a lot of choices to be made. There are around 100 relics and 300 cards, so deck management is an absolute must.
Arr Matey, What's That Song Ye Singin'?
Background music is very subtle with a pirate shanty theme to it. The backdrop scenery is colorful and consists of a map with an outlined path leading to the various islands. As the pirate ship sails around the map, you won't know what's on individual islands until you make landfall and proceed to your objectives. Whether it be for the purpose of plunder or to offload your goods, there's more to the game than just the combat.
A Bounty Worth Seeking?
Yes, I think Pirate Outlaws is a worth while experience. It has a good storyline, there are alot of activities to partake in, and it's entertaining with a replayability factor that's enhanced by the card building system. The game is in early access, but it's close enough to completion that with a tweak here and there Fabled Game is basically reading to release Pirate Outlaws fully. It certainly didn't leave me disappointed.
It's a pirate game and that's enough for me. Plus, it's a barrel of fun!
Very little to complain about other than the deck building genre might be a bit crowded.