The premise is simple, you lost your pirate ship to a Kraken, now you must assemble a crew and build a ship good enough to defeat the Kraken. You start with a small crew, a small ship, and needing help. When you arrive at the first port looking for a friend, you are given your first quest, “find your friend’s brother at a nearby island”. That’s the first of a long list of main-story and side quests that are given as you go from port to port.
But this game is much more than just completing quests. The world of Under the Jolly Rogen has resource management, factions, magic, battles, and a leveling system for your crew, your ship, and you (the captain).
Traversing the map is a big part of this game and you’ll spend quite some time traveling from port to port trading goods and completing quests. You have the option to travel the open seas or quick travel using the map view. As you traverse through the three world areas you will uncover new areas on the map and you will encounter ships, pirate raids, or quest missions that you can choose to battle or ignore. I really like this mechanic since you don’t have to get into a battle if you’re not ready for it. And you can make trading runs safely.
The two(2) main resources are crew members and weaponry. Crew members: You have a set number of sailors that can be in your crew at a time. You assign your crew to man the sails, guns deck, and as fighters. The efficiency of these areas is in part determined by the crew members manning them. As you get into battles, crew members become injured or die and the stats for the areas will go down. So, it is important to manage crew members as you get into battles. You can recruit new crew members from taverns at different ports. Crew members can also level up. Weaponry: There are many types of cannon ammunition that will damage different parts of the ships that you attack with different damage rates. Just make sure you have enough ammo to get into a fight!
There are eight(8) factions that own different lands and roam the seas. The way you interact with each faction over time determines their attitude towards you. The more you attack and destroy a faction’s ship, the more they dislike you and will become your enemies. You can also buy faction flags that will make that faction’s ships your allies on battles.
Magic: Magic is part of your battle strategy. You can equip magic gems to your ship for attacks or defense power-ups. Once you get magic stones is when you really start shredding your enemies in battles!
Battles are the meat and potatoes of this game and are super fun. Initially, while you’re still building up your ship, sinking a single ship can take some time. But once you have built up your crew and have attached some power-ups to your ship, you can easily take on three or four enemy ships by yourself at once. When battling other ships, if you destroy their sails, the ship can no longer move, and you can board the ship with your crew of fighters and battle their sailors in third-person combat and loot their cargo. Battles are fun and strategic and to me what really makes this game so addictive.
You can level up crew members, the higher the sailor level, the better they are at their job. Buy better ships and buy upgrades for sails, cannons, magic stones. You can also level up your character skills with scrolls that you find when destroying enemy ships.
The game crashes from time to time, at least twice in 10hrs of gameplay. I wish the tutorial was required since it gives you good tips on how to go about playing the game and it could be off-putting when you don’t know how to proceed or what all the options mean when playing the game for the first time. The graphics are not cutting edge, but most important, sea animation is good and pleasant. Third-person battles are a little clunky and sometimes you miss a hit when you feel it should have connected.
I’m really enjoying playing this game. It is not perfect but it is enjoyable and somewhat addictive. If you like strategy, RPG, open-world games you may like this one!