Not Your Typical Pirates
Pirate Warriors Awaken is a weird game. Not in the gameplay, which is similar to Marvel Strike Force, but in the game world. In this strategy game by Mark Gamek, you play Luffy, a would-be pirate king. At least, I think that’s what’s going on. Truth be told, I lost track of the story pretty quickly. While your ship resembles an 18th century pirate ship, everyone mostly dresses in modern clothing. The pirates themselves are a motley assortment of bizarre characters. For example, Kuma is a giant who carries around a bible. Fleet Captain Buggy looks like a cross between a pirate and a demented clown. I found myself wondering if the weirdness was due to a cultural divide, or if the game really is weird.
Pirate Warriors Awaken uses an anime graphics style. When a character launches its ultimate attack, a short unique animated clip plays. Everything is brightly colored and visually pleasing. The sound effects and music are similarly well-done, and the whole game comes off as a professional product.
Gameplay itself is very straightforward. Your ship moves from island to island, and you play out the various stages on each one. As you do, you progress through the storyline as well. You build a team of four crewmembers from your roster, plus assisting characters. You then take on a similar group of opposing characters in each stage. Each stage comes in two waves: an initial fight, and then a boss battle. In these fights, your crewmembers trade blows with the opposing characters, one at a time.
When a character’s rage meter is full, they’ll launch a unique ultimate attack. For example, there’s a gangly, long-nosed guy named Usopp who fires exploding slingshot stones. Vivi, a teenage girl, sends a giant duck wearing a helmet crashing into your enemies. Battles can be played manually or automatically. There’s no real reason not to go automatic, as manual play just means tapping on your crewmember’s portrait. You can’t pick your targets, and you almost always want to use your ultimate attacks when you can. As such, the strategy is in how you build your team, rather than in the actual battles.
A Pirate’s Life For Me
Aside from following the storyline, there are other things to do in the Pirate Warriors Awaken. Possibly too many things, judging by the number of icons cluttering the screen. When you complete a stage, it unlocks a corresponding challenge for that stage. The challenges are functionally identical to the storyline battles. You can try to collect bounties on various characters, which involves beating specific stages, challenges, and other activities. If you join a guild, you can participate in guild wars, which pits teams from different guilds against each other. You can also visit the Guild Dungeon, where you try to inflict as much damage as possible on a boss. And the arena lets you go toe-to-toe against other player’s teams.
Collecting and building up your crewmembers is also a big part of the game. You get one random free crewmember each day. You can get more by spending rum or by collecting fragments. There are also various promotions to win rare characters. Character ability is measured in levels and stars, both of which you can increase. Individual skills can also be improved by spending skill points. In addition, characters can be equipped with gear, which improves their stats. Gear itself can also be enhanced and upgraded. Finally, you yourself will level up as you play, unlocking new sections of the game as you do.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Of course, there’s a store, where you can spend your booty on character fragments and other items. Aside from the store, there are also various promotions and packages that invite you to spend real money as well. There’s a lot going on in Pirate Warriors Awaken, and yet, there also isn’t. Bells and whistles aside, the game is mainly about progressing through the storyline. That means lots of battles, and the battles just aren’t that interesting, because you’re mainly a spectator. It’s too bad, because the game has potential. If you were able to make meaningful decisions in combat, the game would be a lot better.
Is It Hardcore?
Pirate Warriors Awaken is a weird and colorful game that’s visually impressive and offers a lot to do. However, the main thrust of the game is a series of repetitive battles, and watching them play out gets boring after a short while.