External Links

Story File
IFComp 2015 release

Have you played this game?

You can rate this game, record that you've played it, or put it on your wish list after you log in.

Playlists and Wishlists

RSS Feeds

New member reviews
Updates to external links
All updates to this page

Scarlet Sails

by Felicity Banks profile


(based on 21 ratings)
1 review

About the Story

Hoist the Jolly Roger and set sail to find the legendary Titan’s Treasure! Do you fight with a cutlass, or with your magical skill? Are you biding your time until you can shoot your captain in the back, or are you the reason the rum is gone? Are you brimming with heroics and derring-do, or smart enough to skip the pain and get the power instead? Will you become the most infamous pirate that ever lived, or fall in love with the cabin boy?

Or will you be the pirate who does it all... and lives to tell the tale?

Game Details


7th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)

From the Author

Related reviews: IFComp 2015

Here are three reviews, starting with the hyper-positive and ending with the hyper-negative. I wrote all of them myself while waiting for IF Comp 2015 results.

There will, eventually, be a major update (it looks like it'll be twice as long as the original, with more scenes and more branching).


I was immediately drawn into the pirate world by the strong characters and an enjoyable lack of cisgender assumptions (in this world, sexuality is apparently completely fluid, and there is no gender-based discrimination whatsoever - a fantasy world indeed, but a nice place to visit and a lecture-free statement of hope for our own world).

The writing is excellent; fast-paced without compromising on style, and with several moments and images that stuck with me after the story ended. The magic system worked mainly as another "fighting" statistic, but added colour to the narrative at the same time, and foreshadowed the supernatural villains nicely.

As someone who often has trouble picking just one romance, I enjoyed the polyamorous option, and as a relatively new player I enjoyed the ability to look at "Achievements" for insider info on what type of pirate I could be. I've played the game several times, and it feels as if a close friend has written a near-infinite number of pirate stories for me to read depending on my mood at the time.

The optional pieces of actual history at the end reveal that a surprising amount of the fantastical adventure is influenced by real people and real piratical adventures. Truth really is more piratical than fiction! Best enjoyed with a finger (or a bottle) of rum and a sense of adventure. Five Arrrrrrs!

Fair (ish):

The writing is good, sometimes very good - but not as good as Cape, and not funny like Birdland or Brain Guzzlers (funny is harder to write). The NPCs are fun, and it's nice to be able to play as male/female/other and gay/straight/polyamorous without having to have a big talk about it (the other characters are all apparently completely fine with various types of romance, and the game doesn't lecture or educate its audience in any way. In fact it's probably too blasé).

It's probably a bit too easy to die horribly at the end, but that only gets frustrating after the first play-through (also the "trick" is outlined in the player notes at the beginning, and in more detail in the walkthrough). The achievements are fun, especially for beginners, and the coda on historical pirates was interesting.


Oh good. Yet another quasi-historical story that starts in an utterly stereotypical bar. And the clichés just keep coming - from a peg leg to evil mermaids. Has this writer ever had an original thought?

Speaking of the writer, it's clear she lacks personal conviction and depth of any kind. Even when she obliquely refers to major social issues (such as the gender identity of the protagonist) she takes an offensively simplistic approach.

The only meaningful choice is to be a "good" pirate or a "bad" pirate, and yet the protagonist is forced to kill on at least one occasion (rendering any attempts at so-called "goodness" utterly pointless). Any pleasure derived from the story depends on the player being young enough and ignorant enough to feel that they've achieved something by clicking a mouse a few times in order to increase their statistics - statistics which are almost exclusively based on violence.

The game could be summarised as, "Do you like violence? What kind? Good for you, you blood-spattered snowflake you!" It insults the player's intelligence one last time after the game is finished by giving an abrupt (and wildly speculative) history lesson, evidently designed purely to show off the fact that the writer read a book once. Perhaps she "researched" by drinking a great deal of rum and then throwing up this shallow, mediocre, clichéd disaster. Recommended for people so sad and lonely that a cardboard cut-out romance is satisfying, and a series of largely meaningless (not to mention violent) "level-up"-style choices feels like empowerment.

Playing it drunk might make it appear cleverer than it is, but I tried that and it still sucked. I left one star because apparently it's not possible to leave zero stars.


- View the most common tags (What's a tag?)

(Log in to add your own tags)
Tags you added are shown below with checkmarks. To remove one of your tags, simply un-check it.

Enter new tags here (use commas to separate tags):

Member Reviews

5 star:
4 star:
3 star:
2 star:
1 star:
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 1
Write a review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Choice-of-games style pirate fiction, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: IF Comp 2015

This is an interesting pirate world, where magic is prevalent and women have a much stronger place in the world.

This is a choice-of-games style game, which means that it's a CYOA, with choices affecting different 'stats' you have (like magic ability, gun ability, drunkenness, sneakiness, etc.) You have to build up different stats for different challenges.

Overall, a very fun game. I really enjoyed it, first as a beta tester, then playing it in the comp. The story is fast-paced and exciting.

Was this review helpful to you?   Yes   No   Remove vote  
More Options

 | Add a comment 

Scarlet Sails on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Scarlet Sails appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Best fantasy games by MathBrush
These are my favorite games that include some sort of magical or fantastical element. Games with mostly horror or sci-fi elements are on other lists, as are surreal games, fairy tale/nursery games, and religious/mythological games. I've...


The following polls include votes for Scarlet Sails:

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible PCs of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting player characters from games released 2015 who you think might be worth considering for Best PC/Best Individual PC in the XYZZY awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the PC (or PCs) in the comment on your...

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible settings of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting settings from games released 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Setting in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible NPCs of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting non-player characters from games released 2015 who you think might be worth considering for Best NPCs/Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the NPC (or NPCs) in the comment on...

See all polls with votes for this game

This is version 4 of this page, edited by classicaljunkie on 16 November 2015 at 12:12am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page