Have you ever thought, I want to be a whaler? No? didn’t think so, not that you could anyway since it’s been illegal since 1986, which really isn’t that long ago. Nantucket gives you the chance to learn about whaling and managing a ship, all for the endgame of taking down Moby Dick.
I think the first thing to tackle is the name of the game. Nantucket. The name is in reference to a port that is featured in the game and is your main port for the game as well. This location is not fictional though, as this location provided some of the best whalers in the industry after it was kick started when a whale entered the harbour and was killed there. The town had major prominence in the whaling industry until the “Great Fire” that was fuelled by whale oil and lumber and destroyed a majority of the town. Things that made it hard for Nantucket was that the port started being filled by silt stopping bigger ships from being able to get in and out of port. The American Civil War was the final blow that removed all of the whaling from the area.
The game Nantucket was developed by Picaresque Studio and published by Fish Eagle on the 18th of January this year, for the PC via Steam. The first thing to note is that the game has very little system requirements which mean that even if you had a small laptop you could still play this game well. The reason why this is easy to play is because of the style of the type of game that it is. This game is an Indie, RPG, Strategy, Simulation-them-up. All of which works together really quite well.
As mentioned before, the game vaguely follows the story of Moby dick. When creating a character, the name that is pre-filled out is Ishmael, the guy telling the story of captain Ahab and the ship Pequod in the book Moby Dick. You also have the ability to select where your first skill point is placed, being in Hunting, Sailing, Science or Crafting. Throughout the game you can also collect traits, in the beginning you have the chance to select your first one of a choice of 5, others are gained through playing the game.
The tutorial then takes you through the basics of the game all while setting up the story of Moby Dick as well, if you pay enough attention, but anything that you do within the tutorial is removed from your ship instead of being passed on to help you continue through the game. This is where my first problem with the game lies. I would normally expect a tutorial to not only teach me how to play the game but also, help set me up within the game so as it is not quite as hard in the beginnings of the game.
Part of the gameplay is based around looking at a map of two-thirds of the world, and traveling around it from port to port and to hunting grounds and along migration routes. The more you travel around the map, the more locations you will be able to visit to whale. One of the best ways to find locations is to look at the newspaper that can be found in any port. Along with historical news, the newspaper will offer quests that range from, searching an area on the map to find a whaling area, delivering cargo from one port to another, and following the route of another ship to discover what happened to the ship. These are a good way to be able to get some extra money while traveling around.
After traveling around to areas like a whaling area, most the time, a combat situation is started. These involve a dice being rolled, based around the RPG skills, with each one giving the chance for something different to happen. The Sailing skill gives the opportunity to be able to dodge an attack from the enemy, the Hunting skill gives the chance to be able to attack, and the science and crafting skills give opportunities to restore health and fix whaling boats. The problem with this is that it feels as though the dice rolling is not random enough, almost as if the dice are weighted against you. There are times where roll after roll, every dice comes up against you, all in all causing rage quit moments.
One of the genres of this game is classed as a strategy game, along with having a fight strategy, you need to manage your ship, provisions, team moral and team health. To be able to manage your ship you need to make sure that you have enough wood to be able to make repairs. To make sure that your team morale is kept up and you are your team stay healthy with food and water, and not to mention alcohol, shopping is required. This is done while in port. In port along with the shop, any resources collected are automatically sold. The newspaper, as already mentioned, can be viewed. The tavern is also a place that can be entered, there you can build your crew to take out to sea. The ship master can also be visited to upgrade the ship to allow better attacks on whales and defence from pirates.
One of the last things I want to talk about is the quality of the music. There is original orchestrated background music that is playing at all times and is different depending on the location, for example, the tavern has lively music that would represent people drinking. But my favourite thing about the music is the acapella covers of sea shanties, one of which gets me all nostalgic about the country where I was born. The song being Bound for South Australia. The music represents the way that crews would keep moral up on long trips by singing song, in an attempt to stop getting bored at the same time. Music is so important within games and I think this was very well represented here.
To finish things of, I didn’t really enjoy this game. Maybe it’s because I’m not good at strategy games, or the fact that I don’t really enjoy simulations either. But despite coming into this game with an intent to give this the best review I could, it didn’t manage to swing me in the right way. The music in the game I really enjoyed, and the experience was definitely a new one but I don’t think I have the ability to recommend this game. Weather it’s because I haven’t enough experience with this kind of game or because I don’t enjoy this genre as much as others, I don’t know. I shall still give my best attempt to give it a score I think represents the game properly, so…
Over all, I’m going to give this game a 6.5/10