Festive Vector's sailing game captures some of the best parts of taking to the high seas.
When I first picked up the controller to play Festive Vector's sailing adventure SAIL FORTH I assumed due to the cute low poly graphically style it'd be a fun little lark on the ocean waves.
Little did I know I'd be approaching each island chain strategically, managing and outfitting my fleet and adjusting tack to make sure my crews didn't succumb to the briny depths.
Channeling some of the best moments of Assassin's Creed SAIL FORTH is a fun and light adventure that feels really fun when you've made that perfect line.
You start with just a small damaged single mast vessel and quickly build up to something more significant and that's the main progress path in the game, you're always searching for more loot in the environment or from your enemies.
The world map unfolds a little bit like a roguelite branching path, but you're welcome to return to a previous island chain for shops and quests, or just to snap up some easier salvage.
When you're managing up to four ships you'll be moving cannons and equipment between them and allocating their crew each of which have minor stat boosts to your ship.
I tended to maintain one flagship throughout my run, but a well maintained fleet can save you in a tough battle even if the fleet AI got in my way a fair few times.
If you manage to sink the primary ship you're controlling it's good to keep your fleet well maintained and outfitted, as you switch immediately over to the next one.
Speaking of that fleet AI, there was always one of my ships that stayed well out of the fray, I wasn't sure if this was by design but when I came up against a particularly damaging battle with two lost vessels, it was merrily bobbing away far out of combat.
Sure I wished they had done anything to help, but at least when I needed to flee and lick my wounds they were safe and sound, lets give them the benefit of the doubt I'm sure my fleet wouldn't be cowardly seadogs.
In search of treasure
The core loop of working your way between island chains discovering new locations through map fragments and sinking any enemies you come across is really well built, it's lots of fun to make sure your sails are trimmed as you move through the story.
It's not mindblowing a mysterious "Deadrock" has corrupted the world's enemies and it's up to you to collect them and trade them for ship upgrades, it serves as a pretty light motivator to keep moving through to each biome's boss battle.
Those bosses are much larger enemies you'll need to unleash your full arsenal that feel very approachable and a good capstone to each section.
And those biomes look genuinely really pretty and the design choices make for a really good looking game, the characters are cute and charming.
It can all build up to be pretty complex play experience and I couldn't help but wonder if that colourful exterior could lull some players into thinking it's a simpler game than actually is.
My nautical adventure came to a sudden end when suddenly I sailed into uncharted waters and crossed cannons with a couple of gigantic galleons, all grouped around a captured shopfront.
I had accumulated thousands of supplies which are used to buy goods and repair your ship in combat, but even with this epic warchest I quickly burnt all my money, my flagship was lost and all I was left with a single under equipped viking longboat who was conveniently for me miles and miles away.
I'd run out of resources, unable to rebuild my well armed flagship, second or even third tier fleet ships it all sunk beneath the waves, and that was that.
You could probably work your way back up scurrying back to an earlier zone but the loss of so much in a single battle made me feel like a pirate's life wasn't for me.
SAIL FORTH is a great casual game that works brilliantly in little chunks, a few islands at a time but make sure you aren't charging headlong into oblivion.
Take my advice and pull each enemy regardless of size away from the pack lest you end up in Davy Jones' locker like I did.
A copy of SAIL FORTH on PlayStation 5 was provided to SIFTER for the purpose of this review.