Game: Black Sails
Release Date: Sep 17, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating: 6.3/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 7/10
Replay Value: 1/10
Black Sails is a point and click styled horror(ish) adventure game that kind of reminds me of older console horror games, only without the action, and the horror. You are Anna, and along with some dude named Lex who has the manners of seal, you’re shipwrecked and… er… somehow find another ship and manage to climb on that one. Yu must now find a way off that ship in turn.
Let’s get on with the more technical aspects first. The game ran fairly smoothly through the first two hours, but after that it started randomly crashing, which was a bit annoying. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what caused it, but I’m almost certain it was related to having alt-tabbed out of it at least once each time. Other than that it was pretty smooth sailing on my older computer.
The only real downside I found tech-wise was the lack of a windowed option.
The game plays simply. You point and click at things to interact with them, have an inventory on screen at all times, and the whole design aspect of it is rather nice, including the character models (even if the little kid was a little unintentionally creepy). The point and click aspect worked fine for the most, but some of the smaller items on screen (and a section where you had to click on words) seemed to be a little hard to get right, because the hit box was just too small, making you have to hunt for juuust the right spot to click. As an added bonus, you have the chance to save anytime you want (so long as it’s not a cutscene or a character is talking), which I always quite enjoy.
Graphics wise it was pretty pleasant to the eyes, some of the camera angles, however, although quite pretty in a cinematic sense, were very uncomfortable. They didn’t really block anything, but they weren’t really useful either, so you’d be walking and trying to click ahead and the camera changed just before the click finished so by the time the click went through the angle had changed and you were walking (or running, since you can run by double clicking) back to where you were coming from.
The really big miss, however, was the font choice. The font was completely and utterly unreadable. And tiny. I read around and it seems like you can lower the resolution to get a larger font but… why should you have to? It seems a bit extreme.
Sound wise, the music was good and the sound effects were as well. The little ‘horror’ bits to build up tension did create the tense, eerie atmosphere at the start of the game, but after a while they became a bit tiresome and annoying.
The voice acting is surprisingly good, even if it’s not perfect.
Moving on to the game itself, the idea of not having you (entirely) alone all through was nice. Unfortunately, Lex, your unfortunate shipwreck companion, is very annoying and highly unlikeable. Theory says the way you talk to him affects the way he talks back to you through the rest of the game. Practice says it hardly does. And even though I used the friendly options instead of hostile ones (which he totally deserved, btw), he was still a prick.
He was also not overly helpful, but I guess that’s to be expected by now of these type of games. Can’t give you a buddy that will solve all the puzzle for you now, can we? Heaven forbid they have a brain.
The game pushed you into forcefully talking with him in several parts whether you wanted to or not. Since he was quite annoying, I didn’t quite enjoy that. It also spoon fed you half the puzzles and showed you every single room, some of them quite at length with slightly dizzying camera pans, which as (again) cinematic as they were, they were completely unneeded and I wished they’d stop and just let. Me. Play. If I want cinematics and unskippable scenes, I’ll watch a movie. (You *can* skip most the dialogue btw, in case you were wondering)
Like with the starting dialogue that sets the mood of Lex, supposedly what you reply to him at the end of the game also affects the ending, but on my play-throughs the differences really were quite minimal and didn’t really merit replaying the last bit just for it. (The ending was also slightly disappointing.)
All that said, I did enjoy the game, though it didn’t offer much on the horror aspect and doesn’t offer much in replayability. The puzzles were decent and with just over 3 hours of gameplay, it’s not too bad, but you do need to be able to put up with the little annoyances.