When you hear a game called ‘Burly Men at Sea’, you expect dogfights on the sea, cannons firing, and maybe even sword fights with insults! Sometimes titles can be deceiving, so it’s always good to come into a relatively unknown game with no expectations. Burly Men at Sea is no exception.
Burly Men at Sea puts you in control of 3 large bearded men, who set sail in the name of adventure and to create their own tale. But what type of game is this, you might ask? It’s more of a narrative-driven point and click adventure. But you’ll see no puzzles or Guybrush Threepwood in sight!
Basically the game has a multi-branched storyline, all determined with what paths and actions you take. For example, if you take the left path, you’ll be treated to very different event than if you took the right path. The story is pretty much a collection of events you play through. But because there are multiple paths to take, replayability is encouraged.
There are 12 different endings to discover, but luckily, each playthrough is roughly 20-30 minutes long. How can you tell a good story though in such short time? Well…you can’t really. Each scene you play through doesn’t contain a whole lot other than being introduced to a new character, a tiny amount of dialogue, a little bit of walking around.
There are some humorous moments such as the giant who wants to give you flowers, or the very grim Grim Reaper-like character, but even these scenes are short and mostly uneventful. Actually, for a game that’s mostly about its narrative, being uneventful is the worst crime it can commit.
The dialogue itself is written as though it’s narrating what’s happening, but it’s hardly exciting. This is maybe because there’s not enough dialogue to pull you in, or simply the way it’s written, but more often than not I just wanted to skip it, which is pretty bad for a narrative-driven game.
I suppose that’s why each playthrough is so short, so you can keep replaying it and discovering multiple new short stories as opposed to just one fully-fleshed out one?
But there’s even more aspects that held this game back from being enjoyable. Firstly- the controls. Oh dear, the controls were just plain awful! I played on the PS4, and essentially the left stick controlled the cursor for interacting with people and objects, while the right stick controlled the camera.
But it’s the camera you need to control in order to make your burly men move about. If you pan the camera to the right , they’ll move to the right, etc. This is literally how you move the characters!
This wouldn’t be so bad if the camera wasn’t so painfully slow. It’s like the camera doesn’t want to be moved and you have to fight with it. Then you have to wait for the 3 men to waddle their way across the screen. Maybe it’s because each playthrough is so short, the developers needed to slow everything down so you don’t finish it in 10 minutes?
Burly Men at Sea also has a very minimalistic art style, which is fitting when you consider every other aspect of the game. While I don’t mind a more unique art style, I think this game just looks FAR too minimalistic.
It’s very difficult to find something as common as doors, and you’ll pretty much have to use your imagination to work out what you’re looking at. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with using your imagination, but it does get a bit ridiculous with this game.
So with sluggishly slow camera and movements, an art style that’s just too basic, and a collection of stories that are hardly memorable or long enough to become engaging, I hardly recommend Burly Men at Sea to anyone.