Sea Explorer Review — There and back again

Better get your sea legs arrrready for Sea Explorer!

Sea Explorer, from Armagedoom Games, is a top-down, RPG-like ocean exploration game. The idea is to get your ship leveled up to the point that it can go farther, and further, out into the sea. It’s an adventure game about exploring the open waters to discover new cultures and islands.  You do this by sailing out into the open waters, hoping for the best.

When you start to run out of food and drink, the crew will automatically send your ship home. This is important to mention, as it happens literally every trip. There is a way to manually go back, in case you wondered. I felt the need for that very few times. You make a little money each voyage to be able to resupply your ship for the next outing. The Log Book reports each time you return home.

At first, you can’t go out very far at all without auto-returning home. The supplies on the ship run out very quickly. It takes a multitude of these tiny trips before you can reach the nearest land mass — which may or may not contain a city to set up a trade route with. If there’s no settlement then it’s just an island. The map keeps track of your journeys with lines, a meek kindness. These records don’t stay forever, mind you, but they stay long enough to be of great help. The brighter the line, the more recent the trip.

Sea Explorer
Trying to reach something out there…

Your home island produces items for you as well: food, drink, wood, stone and swords. The game warns you in the very beginning to constantly increase your output of these. These are great words to heed. However, you will also be extremely tempted to spend your money on ship upgrades. This is the major balancing act in Sea Explorer.

‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat’ said with a cigarette dangling from my mouth, while doing an exact Roy Scheider intonation. You need to constantly make your ship — ‘better, stronger faster’ said as a narrator while doing an exact Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman) impersonation.

Once you (finally) find a small city, you can set up a trade route with them. They usually have two product choices (e.g. food or wood). You choose the one that will be the most beneficial for your island base and they will start delivering the merchandise to you. Once the trade route is set up, it will be shown on your main home panel. Don’t do something fatheaded and only ‘think’ you’ve set up a route to only later find out later you really hadn’t yet. ‘Where’s the wood that’s supposed to be arriving?’ Then, you’d have to return to the same place — to set it up correctly. Not that I have hands-on knowledge of doing such a stupid thing…

Sea Explorer
My Home: Production, trade routes and ship upgrade options.

If you happen upon a large city, you will find that they are quite different. There, you can sell items, as well as get your ship repaired. You probably want to think mostly ‘sell’ to make some extra coinage. The trick here then is, (unless you just want to keep selling the lower-priced food and drink) figuring out how much food and drink it takes to get there — so you know how much extra storage you have to load the extra cargo space and sell higher-priced items that you’re producing back home.

Sea Explorer
Large town with their pirate list, plus abilities to sell and repair.

Also, each large town has a list of pirates they want to be eliminated. Did I fail to mention the ocean is teeming with pirates? Well, it is. If you can terminate all the pirates on their list then there is a reward attached. Part of upgrading your ship is not solely based on the distance it can travel and the amount of cargo it can hold, you also have to strengthen both your offensive and defensive capabilities. Also important to know: pirates like to hang out in groups, so sometimes instead of fighting a single pirate ship…

Sea Explorer is an interesting game. It’s made by a single developer (Armagedoom Games) and from my understanding, it’s straight out of pre-Alpha. So, my review is based upon Alpha 1.0.

There are other, spoilery things to be found out in the ocean — so it’s not simply going from Point A to B. Once this is more developed, I shall return and give my viewpoint on how the final game floats.

Sea Explorer is currently available to purchase on PC & Mac via Steam. The developer is very active and regularly updating the game.

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