Puzzle Pirates Review
Staff Writer Donna Desborough takes a look at the well known puzzle game, Puzzle Pirates.
How can you go wrong with pirates and puzzles? Well, you can't actually. Puzzle Pirates immerses you into a world of high adventure and carousing, all the while being light hearted and fun.
The client for playing Puzzle Pirates will probably be the easiest you'll ever download for any MMO. The installer is less than 500KB in size and the updates aren't a lot with the current version of the installer. It took me less than an hour to go from download to playing, including time to set up my account and patch the client.
The audio is very minimal throughout the game. This is a shame in some ways, such as when you're out on a boat, it would be nice to have the sounds of the sea quietly in the background or when in a crowded market, to have gentle sounds of people talking in the background. These kind of ambient sounds are mission though, and so the world is very quiet. On the up side though, you don't have a lot of distracting ambient sounds always running.
Visually, Puzzle Pirates is pure genius. The design is simple yet decidedly not childish looking. The view is isometric, living somewhere between 2D and 3D. The lines for the art are pleasing to look at and are timeless. The homage to the old 16 bit game graphics is fitting and enjoyable.
Three Rings Design have done a stunning job with the gameplay of Puzzle Pirates. There is a simple balance between PvP, solo play and co-operative play that runs throughout the whole of the game.
There are puzzles everywhere! Well, one would hope that with a name like Puzzle Pirates that there would not only be puzzles, but good puzzles, and Three Rings Design have not disappointed. The puzzles throughout the game come with instructions so anyone can learn to play. Some are of course easier than others, but all are addictive.
To progress in your many skills, you must of course play the puzzles that are designated for those skills. The skill types are all very pirate-like and fitting. Pirating, Carousing and Crafting are the main headings, each with several individual skills.
Like most MMOs, Puzzle Pirates has a guild structure. In typical pirate fashion they are, of course, called Crews. Each Crew is made up of a Captain, Fleet Officers, Officers, Pirates, Cabin Persons, and Jobbing Pirates. You can work your way up through the ranks depending on how the crew is set up by the Captain.
With a good pirate crew comes some of the best co-operative play I've ever done. When the ship and its crew are out sailing the seas, they come into contact with other ships and can choose to fight them. During the attack, or being attacked, the crew works together to keep the ship going and to advance in the battle. Eventually there will be a fight and the two crews will come to blows. This is where the real fun begins in co-operative play. When a fight breaks out, either fist or sword, the crews square off and fight each other as a team. The fight between the two crews is settled using a puzzled suited to the type of fight, of course.
There's more to life than just fighting and sailing though. You can relax and learn the way of crafting. You can learn the fine art of distilling, always a handy skill to have. Perhaps you'd enjoy some Shipwrightery. My favourite though is Alchemistry. Nothing beats a relaxing day of making potions. Besides, it's a really good way to earn some money so you can buy fine clothes.
Speaking of clothes, shopping is plentiful. After all that fighting and pillaging and potion making, a spot of shopping is just what you need to lighten your pockets. In most of the towns you'll find a fairly good amount of different shops and player shops. If you can't find what you're looking for, go to one of the larger islands and you shouldn't have any problems spending the coin that's filled your pocket. Weaveries, Inns and Tailors, just to name a few, are all there to sell you whatever your heart desires as long as you've got the gold.
After all that pillaging and shopping, you're going to need to rest. Sounds like it's time for some carousing. You can improve your card playing skills, poker, spades or hearts are the card games available. If you're not up for a card game you can work on your Treasure Drop skill. What would a pirate game be without a bit of drinking though? Improve your drinking skill by challenging others to a drinking game and see who you can drink under the table.
When all is said and done, it's back to the ship to improve you skills at helping to run the ship. With eight different skills to improve on the ship, you'll never run out of things to do. Carpentry, bilging and sailing are just a few of the skills you can improve while out exploring with your crew. After a battle with another ship, these skills come in very handy to help fix the ship and keep it sea-worthy.
Currently there are 2 options for playing Puzzle Pirates. You can pay monthly or you can play for free. It is possible to play for free without a time limit if you play on one of the Doubloon oceans. There are a total of 3 of these oceans that allow you to pay or play for free. Then there are the two subscriber oceans, currently Midnight and Cobalt, which have a trial period on them, but do not allow you to play for free on them otherwise. Unfortunately the only 'international' ocean is Opal, which is a Deutsch speaking ocean.
Puzzle Pirates is a game that will capture your time and your funny bone. It is by no means a 'serious' MMO, but it is worth the time you spend playing it. It is especially good for solo or casual players as you can always just pick up where you left off. Co-operative and PvP play is enjoyable and inventive. I can only recommend that people give this game a go, even if it's just to play when you need to relax. It's well worth it and you'll wonder where the hours slipped away to.