Ah, a pirate’s life: sailing the high seas in search of adventures, lurking for the Spanish galleons, and in the spare time a safe, dry port and a good, hearty bottle of rum – unless, that is, if you don’t finish your career ingloriously swinging at the end of a rope. It’s no wonder that pirates, fetching sea scoundrels such as they were, were heroes of countless adventure novels, pulp magazines and Hollywood movies from the golden era and beyond. More importantly, they were also one of the most popular subjects in the world of video games, ever since the grand days of famous Sid Meier’s Pirates!.
Although this pirate phenomenon hasn’t yet reached its full potential on mobile platforms, here’s a game that aims to remedy that and offer the gaming public thirsty for some swashbuckling action a somewhat alternate take on the pirate subgenre. Developed by a Russian company called Crazy Panda, Pirate Tales: Battle for Treasure is an action RPG with an interesting combat, based on QTE mechanics and a remarkable cast of playable characters inspired in equal measure by history, fiction, and old maritime legends.
As can be seen by its colorful, stylish visuals, as well as haunting (though slightly repetitive) soundtrack, Pirate Tales: Battle for Treasure certainly owes something to the classic pirate adventure flicks from the thirties starring dashing Errol Flynn. Of course, its main inspiration is much more new age and it can be traced to the famous Pirates of the Caribbean series, from which the game borrows its slightly ghoulish fascination with all things undead. You see, instead of keeping just to the dull facts, developers apparently decided to place the story in an alternate version of the Caribbean, where magic, voodoo, curses, dark rituals and all other ungodly things seen in the above-mentioned series, abound in rather unhealthy quantities. Of course, it’s all in good fun and it is obvious that developers also don’t hesitate to gently parody all those influences, so when the undead finally start flocking in your own crew, you’ll realize that they’ve also probably played Monkey Island games a lot.
Everything you’ve heard so far provides you with sufficient clues about the story and its general direction. It’s a rather slack affair, consisting of a loose string of events and tidbits of information you’ll collect along the way. Suffice to say that early on, while trying to find your rightful place in the pirate world, and robbing some Spaniards of their hard-earned gold, you’ll hear some unsettling rumors about an undead plague swarming the entire Caribbean.
Now, what can you do in such an interestingly envisioned version of West Indies? Lots of things, apparently. Interestingly enough, there’s no specific protagonist in the game. Instead, you’ll lead your jolly band of miscreants across the Caribbean in search of quarrels and plunder. The heroes that will join your crew represent a spicy mixture of historical and fictional characters and include well-known names such as Columbus, Francis Drake, Edward Teach aka Blackbeard, Montezuma, captain Flint from Treasure Island as well as a whole bunch of anonymous types. The way you’ll recruit them is also very interesting – during your travels, you’ll collect hero cards and unlock them for a certain sum. Just like in some card-collecting game, there are different classes of heroes, from common and uncommon, through rare and legendary, to epic – the higher the class, the stronger the hero will be.
Of course, since this is a pirate RPG, it goes without saying that each hero has its characteristics and special abilities that can be used in combat. You’ll earn new cards by finishing quests, but the other way to get them is by randomly drawing them from various treasure chests. Sometimes you’ll earn them as a reward, but mostly you’ll just buy them for in-game currency. As in any freemium game, when you run out of gold or silver, you’ll be able to buy them in the in-game store (what, just don’t tell me you’ve expected it to be free, this is a game about pirates, not charity workers).
Since combat is the only acceptable way of life in the pirate world, you’ll be fighting pretty much all the time, so it’s a good thing that it’s is so well designed. You can take up to three heroes in the battle and the heroes with greater initiative will act first. You’ll be able to quickly select which enemy you want to attack and change the attack style by tapping the tactics button. The attack itself is executed automatically, but since this is a quick time event styled game, you’ll have to tap at the right moment to ensure maximum damage. If you miss the opportunity, the attack will fail, or at least be less effective. However, if you manage to tap on time, you’ll most likely trigger a free attack – link them properly and the battle will be yours. Another cool detail that’s potentially extremely useful in combat is that, depending on the faction, each hero has its sworn enemy. Concentrate attacks on the sworn enemies, and you’ll inflict critical damage.
You can watch our gameplay video for Pirate Tales: Battle for Treasure:
The combat and heroes make the core of the game. However, there are plenty of other details that make the overall experience so interesting. For instance, severely injured heroes from your team will be forced to take some time off to recuperate. This usually takes a couple of hours in real-time, but you can speed up the process if you upgrade the crew quarters section of your ship. Naturally, there are also other facilities on the ship, and when your current vessel starts feeling a bit cramped, you can buy another one.
Now, this was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg – the map of the West Indies is huge, and it’s simply teeming with things you can do. You can dispatch your heroes on missions, conquer various locations which will generate much-needed resources, unlock achievements, and, when boredom hits you real hard, attack ships of other players and engage in PvP and other multiplayer opportunities. Although it’s certain that some parts of the game still need some work (for instance, it would be great if you could actually control your ship), Pirate Tales: Battle for Treasure and it’s particular vision of the Caribbean will reward you with ample plunder of ships, treasures, excitement and all other things cherished by true pirates.