Much as I like to criticize Hollywood for being so..well..Hollywood, I must admit that Pirates of the Caribbean made me want to don an awesome hat, jump aboard an 18th century sailing vessel, and sail off into the sunset in search of adventure and…probably seasickness. Fortunately for my safety and general well-being this week’s Kickstarter game by Flintlock Studios will allow me to experience with surprising accuracy the toils of Caribbean seafaring in Spirit of Sail.
Spirit of Sail is described as a “realistic tactical RPG set in the Caribbean”. It takes place around 1720-1750 and allows you the freedom to do nearly anything. It’s an online sandbox rpg at its finest.
It’s also intense. Like super intense. Like, permadeath intense. While individual crew members will die, the legacy and achievements of the ship are what live on giving us all a grim reminder of how many lives have been lost or ruined in the quest for riches and gold. To make things even more realistic and hardcore, the devs have also made the decision (which I greatly applaud) to not include fast travel in their scaled down version of the Caribbean. They argue that it is jarring to immersion and I could not agree more.
But, you may be asking, how do you play the game? What is about? Here’s a quick run down:
You control not the ship, but the crew, either as the captain giving orders, or various crew members (such as a gunnery officer when the need for well-timed attacks occurs…) Your commands are performed by your crew in real time.
Your ship is built modularly when you first start the game. After the general design is complete you can add functional items (canons, rockets) and decorative items. Splash on some paint to make it yours and you’re almost ready to set sail!
Before venturing out into those dangerous waters, however, you must make your crew. Name your senior officers and roll for their stats. These stats affect not only how they perform, but how they look as well which is something I’m pretty excited about. For instance, if your character is high in strength he’ll be more muscular than a fellow who doesn’t have as much.
With ship and crew in hand it’s time to hit the waves and make your mark on the world. But just who are you? There are four archetypes in the game: explorer, privateer, merchant and pirate. Explorers search uncharted waters, seek lost artifacts and unclaimed lands. Privateers work for specific countries (guilds, perhaps?) and their causes. They have “free and legal rein to attack and plunder ships of opposing countries.” Merchants look to find the most advantageous trade routes while simultaneously attempting to steer clear of pirates. Lastly pirates do…well…what you would expect of them. Since everyone hates or fears them, pirates have a pretty rough ocean before them, but for the clever, skilled pirate, the rewards can be worth the risk.
Speaking of skill, the devs behind this game are adamant that it will never be a “grind to the top”. Time spent in the game will not be a surefire way of getting anywhere. Only hard work and true skill will earn a player top rewards and only hard work and skill will keep them from being taken down.
The game’s politics and economy are entirely player driven. Whether there is any story or not is unknown at this time. The politics I imagine are guild-like in nature, though given their interest in staying historically accurate it’s hard to say for sure.
Spirit of Sail is looking for £55,000 (about $88,000) by November 22nd. With little to show in the way of gameplay I’m not entirely sure they’ll be able to get enough people willing to pitch in quite that much, but I’m hoping the brilliant idea will be enough. As always, remember that backing a game is a risk, no matter how far along it is. If you don’t feel comfortable backing a game with so little footage, do the next best thing and spread the word. I think Spirit of Sail looks amazing in concept and, while I would like to see a little more, I understand that the tricky thing about asking for funding is that the funding usually has to go to making the game.
That said, get to donating or spreading the word and let’s get this game funded! We can’t wait to set sail in our awesome ships and probably get slaughtered by the amazingly passionate and skilled players this game is sure to attract!