Under The Jolly Roger Review

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Pirate-themed games have always hooked me, mainly because I love the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which unfortunately has not yet received a really decent game. I also have a passion for Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, which ended up winning my personal first place on the podium of Ubisoft’s AC series. Well, that said, Under The Jolly Roger is a game that promises to be a pirate RPG, and was originally released in 2016 for PS4 and Xbox One under the name of Tempest. That said, the game we received on Nintendo’s console is actually a port.

Starting with the trailers. What really caught my attention were the moments of cool by foot “exploration” on the island. Closer friends of mine also mentioned that they were looking forward to this type of gameplay, but the distributor just said that soon more videos of this gameplay would come out. The Herocraft’s (publisher) channel has (at the time of this publication) only content showing scenes of battles on the high seas and some sword fights against pirates and undead skeletons. It really felt like an incredible game. Although, Under The Jolly Roger is actually a game with a lot of focus on management. Maybe you’re not the target audience? Well, you’re going to tell me. Its biggest secret inspiration seems to have been Sid Meier’s Pirates! However, I never had time to play this Nintendo Wii title for real, I’ve only watched some videos of it.

In Under The Jolly Roger you start your sea journey at a place called “Academy”, where the first missions are given and some tutorials like how to navigate battle and use the wind to your advantage are taught. So far, so good. However, the game is basically that: text and navigation. Some elements of this management are quite interesting, I won’t deny. We can allocate the crew and special members of our ship in various locations on it, such as; deck, mast, and inside by the cannons. When the ship stops in any city, it is possible to visit the tavern to recruit more people for our vessel, and to buy items, like cannonballs (ammo), to add to our ship or stock in our Warehouse. In addition, we can check the current attributes of our ship and upgrade it to a better one with greater armour, and check the ship’s captain attributes (the character that represents you).

I would say that it is not the immersion with which I identify and like. Honestly, Under The Jolly Roger looks very much like a mobile game of questionable quality, except for the battles on the high seas that can be started once we find a ship navigating next to ours. During these moments, the game features obvious inspirations in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag mixed with Sid Meier’s Pirates! And don’t try to convince me otherwise. The battles work exactly as if these two games had a child, requiring the approach of your ship, adjusting the shot angle of the cannons and shooting at your opponent, the difference is that here a percentage is shown representing the shot accuracy and similar vision of the Ubisoft game. Other than that, it is also possible to choose the ammunition to attack the other ship. Once weakened, you can navigate to near the red zone of the opposing ship and invade it. Yes, these moments kind of rock.

So finally we have the action gameplay, but not that much. The moments of battles in third-person vision using your captain are basic to the extreme, with shallow options of movement, defence and attack. That’s too simple. If your gang wins, you can choose between three options, which are: destroying the ship to quickly repair the damage of yours, take the opponent’s resources and take its crew to the nearest port or recruit all the hostages for your crew. Besides the invasion of ships, we also have moments of invasion in forts, “secret places” and derivatives represented in textures of dubious quality and with little news. Additionally, we can set the pirate or corsair flag, representing which faction we will follow, but we still can attack any ship on the game map.

Anyway, the way it was presented seemed to be more interesting in the trailers. It ended up being much more basic and so different from the action that was advertised. So, if you were interested in this title because of these 3rd person battles just like me, don’t go for it. The missions are usually about navigating with your apparently ghost ship (sarcasm, because no one is seen on it) on the world map just by selecting where your destination will be in a simplified way, discovering new places sailing on the high seas between passages from one map to another, etc. The tasks are also quite simple, presenting a text, a monotonous objective such as “navigate to that place and finish the mission”, find so and so in a certain port. There are no pirates singing songs like in AC4, the feeling of the wind blowing, or anything like that.

Well, if there’s something Under The Jolly Roger is really worthy of praise, it’s certainly its graphics and soundtrack. The visuals are gorgeous, much more for a weaker hardware console like the Nintendo Switch. The epic songs chosen for the game are incredible and exude adventure and danger, besides bringing an important and necessary immersion for titles of this genre. However, the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired in terms of action. If you are not the type who likes management games again, forget it. Under The Jolly Roger will make you read a lot, perform similar missions and go from one point to another all the time. Moments of action? They are few and shallow, and they don’t sustain the gameplay. By the way, interesting information: Herocraft have a game similar to this one under its Google PlayStore profile, called Pirates Flag: Caribbean Action RPG. As it’s free, I recommend testing to confirm if it’s worth it or not – but be prepared for in-app purchases.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to press@4gn.co.uk.

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Under The Jolly Roger Review
  • Gameplay - 6/10
  • Graphics - 7/10
  • Sound - 9/10
  • Replay Value - 6/10
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Under The Jolly Roger will make you read a lot, perform similar missions and go from one point to another all the time. Battle at high seas are quite good, but keep in mind this is not an action game, but a management one.

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