If you like your games full of charm and witty writing you’re in for a treat with Burly Men at Sea. At it’s heart this game is an adventure game. But it’s more akin to a choose your own adventure storybook. With playful music, fantastical adventures and a look that compliments the overall feeling of the game, Burly Men at Sea is a lot of fun.
Choose Your Own Adventure
When I was younger I used to read books called Choose Your Own Adventure books (I might be showing my age a bit here). In them you read a page or two and then you had a couple choices on what you wanted to do with the situation. Each choice lead to a different page and different outcomes. Basically you read the book and decided what the characters did. Sometimes it worked. Other times not so much. This concept is very much what Burly Men at Sea is but in game format.
You start out on a small island in control of three heavily bearded fishermen appropriately named Steady, Hasty, and Brave Beard. After discovering a blank map in a fishing net you jump on a boat and sail off in search of adventure. This is where I’m going to stop with specifics on the story. Part of the fun and charm is experiencing the different situations and deciding where your story ends up going . And I don’t want to spoil that for you.
I’ll just leave you with this: There are all kinds of interesting shenanigans you and the burly men can get into. You’ll meet plenty of creatures and characters along the way. And it’s all very well written and, as I’ve already mentioned, very charming.
The main gameplay mechanic of the game is finding different story paths that change depending on choices you make. A gameplay sessions can be about 20 mins to 40 mins. What happens after that is you end up back on the first island. Your particular adventure is set up on a bookshelf as a book with a number on it (we’ll get to that in a bit). Then you can jump back on your ship and make different choices to go down a different branch and subsequently attain a different ending.
While this definitely helps with replay value and makes the game interesting it can get a bit tedious if you try to get all the endings. Sometimes you have to go through parts of the story that you have already been through to get to different endings. I do have to give credit to the writers though. There are times the game acknowledges that you have been in that particular part of the story before and relays that through different dialogue.
One neat features about this game is that you can get actual books that are recreations of the adventures you have had. Remember the numbers on the in-game books that I mentioned before? You can go to their website here and plug in one of those numbers and you have the option to purchase one of your adventures in a physical book format. It’s not something that is essential to the game but is a nice touch and an interesting way to tie in the game with a physical object.
Simple Yet Pleasant
The graphics in Burly are pretty simple. That’s not to say they are bad, they are just simple and it works well for the game. The aesthetic is much like a storybook. Everything looks nice and clean and sharp. You won’t see details such as faces (to be fair, those are some fantastic beards) but you can still tell what is what. Clean edges and a lot of nice colors make this game very easy on the eyes.
The game controls cater to touch screen type controls. Thankfully, this is one of those gems that is cross buy and I had my best experience playing it on my Vita. That’s not to say it isn’t controllable on the the dualshock 4. It works a little more intuitively using the touchscreen on the Vita though and is a lot more satisfying.
Controlling the characters isn’t done directly. You more or less move the screen to the right or left and the bearded guys follow along. You move the screen either by using the right stick or swiping the screen on the Vita. You can use the left stick (or the touchpad on the dualshock) to move a cursor and click on certain objects that are interactive in one way or another. Or you can just tap on them if you’re playing on Vita.
All in all, it’s all pretty simple (there’s that word again) and intuitive. Depending on who you ask this could be a good thing or a bad thing. I for one didn’t mind the controls as it let me focus on what was going on in the game. Remember this is more akin to an interactive book then a typical game. The game doesn’t go a long way of explaining things though and until you figure things out it can be a bit confusing. Once you get the hang of things it works well enough.
Charm Me With Your Music
One of the highlights of Burly Men at Sea is the music and sound effects. The music is well done and matches the charm of the game. It’s all very light hearted and fantastical and really adds to overall vibe.
Even more amusing are the sound effects. It took me a minute to realize that most of the sound effects are actually a human voice recreating the sounds instead of using regular effects. So a gust of wind is an actual human going “wwoooosshh!”. It sounds odd to try and describe but again, it really just adds to the storybook theme of the game and something that I enjoyed.
There isn’t much else to say without giving away the fun parts of the game. Burly Men at Sea will definitely charm you though. And although it can get repetitive if you try to get all the endings for the game, the stories are all well written and it’s exciting to see what happens next. Lots of color, fun music and sound, and witty writing bring this to a very well rounded game that is likely to please most people.