Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale PC Review

The call of the Open Sea will keep you playing Tortuga - A Pirate’s Tale for hours on end.

By JoshuaBurt, Posted 30 Jan 2023

The ‘pirates’ genre has ultimately been quite dead in the world of gaming. Similarly to the western genre with Red Dead Redemption nearly enough cornering the market, (Aside from Call of Juarez) the pirate genre has been dominated by two titles, with only one fulfilling the more ‘realistic’ side of piracy. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Sea of Thieves have been the only significant pirate releases in the past decade which makes Kalypso Media’s Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale a refreshing change. 

In Tortuga - A Pirate’s Tale players are asked to take on the role of a ship's captain being able to sail the seven seas aboard their own ships. You can change the name of your ship, and your starting area, all akin to another sandbox RPG-style game Mount and Blade II: Bannerlord. Players can customize their own epic pirate flag to terrify their opponents from the distance as they see your colors on the mast.

Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Pirate RPG Games, NoobFeed

The main plot of this game surrounds the idea of a Spanish Treasure Fleet meandering its way towards Europe, with enough plunder to drown yourself in, but of course, you are but a mere ship captain and must spend your time recruiting other Captains to your cause. In addition to this players can develop their ship whilst expanding their fleet all the while controlling their crew. Recruiting the other captains adds more to your fleet which almost acts like your heroes, or soldiers. They can participate in combat and help you along your journey. Developing your fleet is a fun experience as is developing your own ship. Upgrading various facets so that your ship can become one of the most deadly on the high seas.

While that may seem like a lot, the game actually has quite a lot of patience for players, particularly when first starting out. The game does not outpace itself and become too much to handle, slowly guiding the player through the experience. Beyond this, the plot of the game is basic and realistically only serves to further the gameplay. Tutorialisation is fantastic and slowly introduces new concepts to players with clear and concise information appearing on the screen to provide necessary advice. Regarding gameplay, there are a few aspects. When it comes to exploration and such, the game is…Okay. Controlling the ship can feel quite clunky and unnecessarily rigid.

Exploration generally feels somewhat lackluster in the game, the sea can sometimes feel shockingly empty. While for some players who wish to live out an immersive pirate adventure, it may be amazing. For me, it was a daunting bland exploration that lacked any flavor. The lack of exploring on land is also a shame as the game does sport some gorgeous-looking islands that would be ideal to go on an adventure within.

Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Pirate RPG Games

As it is a game based in the golden age of piracy, Naval Combat is heavily prevalent throughout the experience. Some may expect the flash and bombastic naval battles that players witness in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag but instead, Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale is more similar to Civilisation. A Hexagonal grid appears on the ‘map’ and players move on this grid. It may not be as grandiose as other games, but the slow and methodical turn-based style leads to some rather intense engagements as you hope to decimate your enemies.

There are some issues with combat that are quickly apparent, specifically the incredibly large turning radius that the ships have that can make combat a complete and utter chore to a ridiculous degree. This is only exaggerated by the addition of ‘momentum’ which essentially allows the ship to gather speed and in turn, makes it even more difficult to maneuver the ship.

Of course, like many turn-based titles, the combat can be occasionally challenging and sometimes irritating, especially when you are assailed by fleets and ships that vastly overpower you. It can be occasionally seen as ‘unfair’ in that aspect. However, despite that, it can be very rewarding.

Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Pirate RPG Games

Combat is not the only aspect of this title, even when raiding ships, combat does not necessarily have to be your first choice. Players can also attempt to intimidate ships into relinquishing their cargo to you free of any hassle, which is a nice extra and makes the game more varied and interesting. 

Moreover, players don’t even necessarily have to engage in true piracy, trade is also an important aspect of the title as it was during the age it is based. Players can buy goods from one port and sell them to another at a higher price bringing a great deal of wealth. However, this can be a laborious task that can seem to drag on for considerable lengths of time. Especially when combined with being assailed by ludicrously higher-level ships. You can also take on various jobs which I found to be quite enjoyable and it also serves to keep crew morale happy as you jaunt across the sea.

In terms of the game's art style… It’s decent. While nothing to scoff at, the game can seem washed out in a few places and some of the islands look rather poor. On the opposite end however, the ships and the sea itself look sensational. They are rendered in loving detail and colour and truly feel alive. The UI is well designed and simple, which is not a bad thing. In fact the game's simple UI does it credit considering the complexities of gameplay.

Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale, PC, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Pirate RPG Games, NoobFeed

The parchment look for the UI may not be the most unique look, it is a mainstay of gaming and still manages to create a more immersive atmosphere. The audio of the game is great from the ships, to the foley audio of the sea, wind and more is all fantastic. The music is also wonderful and fits the game so spectacularly well with all of the trimmings of a classic ‘pirate’ style score completely immersing you in that kind of world.

Overall, Tortuga - A Pirate's Tale is a good game. While the combat can be frustrating and difficult to deal with at times, it can still be rewarding and the methodical process does reward ingenuitive and tactical thinking. The controls are a bit clunky which can spoil the experience, but the strong audio and the general atmosphere of the game are so well crafted that you will feel hours drift by as you sail the seas. It is a game that is long overdue and despite its weaknesses, contains a passion that is nearly impossible to ignore.

Joshua Burt (@JoshuaBurt123),
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Kalypso Media Digital Ltd.
Developer(s): Gaming Minds Studios
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Pirate, Strategy
Release Date: 2023-01-19

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