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The simple pleasures of pirating, March 19, 2021
Alana Joli Abbott is a prolific Choice of Games author, having written Choice of Kung Fu (a very good game), Showdown at Willow Creek (very short but fun), and Blackstone Academy for the Magical Arts, which I felt had good ideas but less exciting execution.
Also, I had previously played another pirate game (by a different author) from choice of games, "7th Sea: A Pirate's Pact", which I thought was fun but that didn't highlight the exciting parts.
This game, for me, improves on Abbott's other games and on the other pirate game, because it's fun. It highlights all the best parts about the pirate life. We get ghost ships, flamboyant and treacherous captains, refined but insidious Crown operatives, sea monsters, owning a fleet, getting a hook for a hand, etc. Very little time is spent on the trivial or boring.
The stats are great, too. They're clear to understand, you have many opportunities to increase them, and they're clearly differentiated early on.
There are some things I didn't like too much. I tried to get a haunted ship at the beginning, but failed too many checks in a row and lost miserably. But the game handled it with optimism and reassured me as the player that things would be okay despite my setback, and that gave me the confidence to keep playing without retrying.
I'm not sure exactly how much branching there is; the way it's written and the wordcount given makes me think you largely experience the same set of events each playthrough, but the game offers you a lot of freedom in your intent. And there is definitely some branching; I completed the entire game without finding the identity of one of the people in the relationship bars (probably because I refused to work with the Crown at all).
Overall, lots of fun, can recommend.