Pirates of Black Cove is developed by Nitro Games and published for the PC by Paradox Interactive. The game itself is promoted as Sid Meier’s Pirates! meets The Secret of Monkey Island with a few additions of its own to add to the mix.
The game begins with a character select screen with three different scurvy scallywags to choose from, they are; a close combat bruiser, a close combat femme fatal and a one-eyed musket wielder. They each have their own backstory, special attacks and voice, unfortunately all the dialogue seems to be the same. Afterwards you are given a choice for your main special weapon but worry not as each is tied to one of the three friendly factions of pirates and can be purchased at a later time.
The story begins with your character having recently led a mutiny against the tyrannical ex-captain and striking a conversation with a near-by corsair-led ship. Despite your best effort to convince them that all you want is a dishonest day’s work they warn you away. On that unfriendly note you are tasked with sailing to the nearby Pirate Stronghold (the first of the three friendly factions), where you will meet with the Pirate Leader and take part in some reputation building quests. After a few quests the story brings in the main quest line about voodoo and Black Cove Pirates who are neither friendly nor easy to defeat.
The story itself is a little tried and tested for many pirate filled games but the writing for the dialogue itself is quite impressive and definitely has itself set on being Monkey Island style in terms of the humour. It is genuinely funny at time but the way that some of the dialogue comes across because of the awkward voices from the secondary characters does detract from the humour at times.
The sailing is probably where the game shines the most as a Pirate without a ship is not a very good pirate at all. WASD controls movement and Q and E fire the cannons and SPACE will launch your special weaponry. Ship combat at first is quite slow and you will spend a lot of time using the same tactics of ambush from behind, fire cannons from one side the quickly move into position for the next last and then continue by dodging and firing and healing with a toolkit if you get low on health. Once you upgrade your ship or start sailing a better ship the combat becomes more hectic and much more fun as your ship will duck and weave between volleys of cannon fire. Though you will be fighting on the high seas quite often, you will also be finding ingredients for potions, collectables in the form of jokes (1000 in all but many repeats of the same joke) and blueprints for making ships and upgrades.
On a basic level the ground combat is like any other strategy game but each hero unit can command up to 3 units of troops with it with some troops containing multiple units. You gain more heroes throughout the game with each being a pirate lord who joins you after you have full reputation with them. There are 3 types of unit to recruit with 3 different variations depending on the stronghold you got them at. They all offer differing play styles and are all bought from structures that you need to pay to build. The combat itself is pretty basic with you either attacking single units en masse or being more tactical and splitting your forces and directing them separately. Units will take damage but you can expend a bottle of grog in order to fully heal any injured troops but if grog is used too often any troops that were affected by the healing will pass out for a brief period of time. You can also destroy some buildings which will leave gold to be picked up and collected when brought to the landing zone. Unfortunately some of the path finding is quite awkward and will send troops the wrong direction before bringing them back on course and sometimes not even bringing them to their destination at all.
The graphics are very nice on the whole but the ocean itself is stunning; it reflects the light off of the waves and it has a rich colour to it in both deep and shallow waters. Oceans aside, the ships and islands are bright and colourful and full of vibrant plant life, dusty beaches and settlements. All the characters are well stylised and some are more caricature than others but it all fits the mood of the game nicely.
The sounds effects are generally nice and the voices are mainly very good. The main voices that you hear tend to be very downplayed stereotypes and the accents are all believable while some of the seldom appearing voices are either bad or just stereotypically bad.
The dialogue is funny and the story is maybe a little clichéd for a pirate tale but it is enjoyable even if some of the voices are annoying.
Well-designed characters, nice environments and beautiful oceans bring this game to life.
Reasonable audio with good main voices but lack the same polish for the odd character.
Ship combat is slow at first but becomes very satisfying while ground combat is simple and a little dull at times but still engaging.
Though at first it may seem pretty bare you do end up getting much more in almost all areas of the game as things gradually unlock or become available to buy. There’s a lot to do and it’s fun to sail around plundering booty from unsuspecting ships. It definitely meets its mission statement of Monkey Island meets Pirates!
It’s nice to see a game with an ambition to mimic the feel of some great games come out achieving just that. The pirate genre is a little overlooked these days in comparison to space or a modern combat game. The ground combat may be a little weak and not to everyone’s tastes but it is quite pleasant and not too difficult to put people off of playing the game. Ship combat is satisfying and unpredictable at times when multiple ships come after you when you accidentally hit a passive ship during combat with another or an enemy’s cannon barrage has every ball whistling past you ship almost skimming the sails but leaving you unharmed. It’s a lovely game and a great time waster as you can just pick it up and blast a few ships in your spare time.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.