Ship of Fools PC Review

A great co-op experience on the high seas with loads of cannons, paddles, and krakens to fight. Try not to die!

By LCLupus, Posted 22 Nov 2022

Ship of Fools is the first game by Fika Productions, and it is a co-op oriented roguelite that can perhaps best be described as a tower defense-inspired game but without the towers. It’s a somewhat unique thing, so it’d be best to explain it rather than try to use the usual labels. However, the game is definitely best played co-op, because playing it solo can be a little daunting at times seeing as the action can get frantic rather quickly.

Ship of Fools puts you into the shoes of two fools, or at least there are two fools at first and you can find new ones along the way, and these fools need to pilot a ship through treacherous waters in an attempt to beat the big bad guy at the end and save the world from the Aquapocalypse, because yes, it’s called the Aquapocalypse.

Ship of Fools, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Co-op, Roguelite, NoobFeed

Your two fools, which is what the playable characters are collectively known as, find themselves washed up on an island with a lighthouse and two rather strange characters on it. These characters prepare you for your repetitious journey into the open ocean. Ship of Fools is a roguelite, but one with progression between runs, like the recent Bravery and Greed, but the style of play is fundamentally different from most roguelite-type games.

Instead of fighting, you pilot a ship. The ship goes along on its own and needs to be directed at the end of each combat encounter, but the main brunt of the gameplay is in those encounters. The ship needs to be defended at all costs, and you defend it by setting up a gun and firing at the enemies that attempt to sink the ship. Your character cannot be harmed, so you instead focus on stopping the enemies from putting holes in the ship. A few too many holes and you’ll sink, after all.

So, the basic gameplay is quite simple. Using your cannon to fire at enemies in the water and using the auto-fire cannon to either defend the other side, the side that you can’t defend because you can’t be in two places at once or setting it up next to you to help out with a big bunch of enemies. The major sticking point is that these cannons need ammo, so you are constantly leaving your cannon to collect ammo for yourself and for the auto-firing cannon. This means that Ship of Fools is a frantic game as you rush back and forth between sides of the ship, trying to ensure that the cannons are fully loaded and that none of the enemies have managed to get onboard your ship.

Ship of Fools, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Co-op, Roguelite, NoobFeed

The cannons are your primary means of fighting off enemies, but enemies sometimes either get onboard, and these are typically small enemies that take a while before they do damage, or a larger enemy will float up next to the boat and prepare for a big attack. In both of these circumstances, you need to rush over and smack these enemies with your melee attack, which happens to be a paddle.

In Ship of Fools, you’re constantly switching between these two forms of combat, and reloading your cannons and smacking the enemies that land onboard or get too close. Nothing else can actually hurt you, which is great, and this also means that the main difficulty comes in noticing where the enemies are and where best to focus your attention. This is also why the game can be a little too hectic in single-player mode.

With a partner, there would be one person for each side of the ship. This means that there can always be someone fighting off the enemies that want to sink your little ship. So, sadly, Ship of Fools is not really built for single-player. You can easily tell while playing that it’s clearly made for two people working in tandem, similar to games like Overcooked. The point of the game is that you grab a friend and go at it together. It makes the game a lot easier to have a partner.

Ship of Fools, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Co-op, Roguelite, NoobFeed

Although, at least the auto-firing cannon does help you out, but it isn’t as good as having a partner. This is really the only issue that Ship of Fools has, because if there had been something like an AI companion to help, then maybe it would have been more manageable. The game is certainly fun without a friend, and it certainly is a major challenge, but that doesn’t stop it from being great fun. You’ll likely just die a bunch more often because you couldn’t have possibly dealt with everything happening on screen alone.

There are things to help though. The lighthouse hub world you go to between runs can be upgraded by finding people to populate it, and each of these new people allows you to perfect your boat, add better weapons, and supplement your start of each run with tools that would otherwise need to be found in the run, such as planks to fix holes and special ammo types.

On each run, you’re able to acquire many of these things, but they’ll be gone for the next run, as is common in roguelite games, but you do have upgrade points that carry over and allow permanent improvements. This means that there is a sense of progression to the game. Each failure is simply a chance to do better next time.

Ship of Fools, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Co-op, Roguelite, NoobFeed

You also get to have some good choices in Ship of Fools. After each encounter, you enter an overworld map that shows you where you can go. You need to choose wisely on the turn-based, grid map though, as spaces behind you become inaccessible once you move forward. Furthermore, the big boss of the level slowly consumes the map until you’re forced into a confrontation with it, and this means that the game doesn’t let you dawdle about; you have limited time to gather what you need in preparation for the big fight, and the fights are tough. The bosses are further evidence that having a friend would have helped a lot.

All this is to say that Ship of Fools is a great and fun game that will keep you occupied for quite a long time as it incentivizes replaying and improving yourself until you can conquer the sea once and for all! It’s also nice to see your little lighthouse hub world come alive as you rescue more people to add to it.

However, the lack of good support for single-player does hold Ship of Fools back a little, but not enough to stop a recommendation. The only thing that could falter a recommendation is that there is the occasional strange technical issue that stops the character from being able to reload the cannon, and that actually led to some deaths while preparing for this review, but a problem like that is likely to be fixed shortly after release as it is a rather minor thing.

Ship of Fools is not built for single-player gamers, but if you’re interested in a fun, frantic experience that’ll keep you occupied for quite some time, then this is the game for you. Just don’t expect some major narrative or anything like that. So, be like one of the fools and be willing to be fool enough to brave the infested waters!

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Ship of Fools


Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Team17
Developer(s): Fika Productions
Genres: Tower Defense
Themes: 2D, Roguelite
Release Date: 2022-11-22

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