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‘Curse of the Sea Rats’ Offers Impressive Visuals Despite Certain Gameplay Issues – Review

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I was provided with free digital codes for Curse of the Sea Rats on Steam/PC (demo) and Xbox for review. The opinions I have are my own.

I’ve been looking forward to trying my hand at Curse of the Sea Rats since August 2019. I really liked the concept of our heroes being cursed and turned into rats and trying to go back to their human forms while also seeking their freedom. And while I enjoyed the visuals and the premise (reminiscent of the ’90s cartoons I grew up watching), certain issues with the gameplay left me a bit disappointed.

The story is easy to understand. There’s a lot of comedy involved, which I appreciated. Essentially, we have a pirate witch named Flora Burn who manages to escape a prison ship. There’s a magical curse involving an ancient amulet, and everyone onboard gets transformed into different species of rats. While making her escape with her pirate crew, Flora also kidnaps the Admiral’s son. The ship has our four playable characters (David Douglas, Buffalo Calf, Bussa, and Akane Yamakawa) who are tasked with rescuing the kid to gain their freedom.

The backstory given to each character – revealing how they ended up being imprisoned by the British army – was okay. I get that the dev team wanted to make the cast diverse, but more thought needed to be put into how the backstories could impact the narrative, unique dialogue, and basically, making the characters feel like individual beings instead of a “skin” swap depending on what kind of fighting style you wanted to use during a particular mission. 

Talking about the fighting style and abilities: David has an affinity for fire, and his weapons are a cutlass and a pistol for close and long-range attacks.

Buffalo Calf uses daggers for long-range attacks and has an elemental affinity to air. Bussa is the brawler and is all about close-range fighting and utilizing his affinity to Earth. Akane Yamakawa has an affinity for water and uses a naginata for mid to long-range combat.

As someone who likes water as an element in games, I decided to play Curse of the Sea Rats as Akane. And I quickly found out that it was a mistake to do so. She looks good running around while wielding her weapon, but her fighting mechanic wasn’t for me.

So, I ended up playing as Buffalo Calf and found my experience to be much better. Her ability to throw daggers at her enemies from afar was very useful.

The good news is that you don’t have to stick with a particular character. You can swap characters at checkpoints. You can level up their abilities as you collect spiritual energy. The improvements include increasing the likelihood of landing critical hits, boosting overall damage, etc… you know, the usual stat upgrades you expect from such titles.

Kind of helping you along the way is a spirit named Wu Yun, who is housed inside the amulet your character carries. I found Wu Yun’s personality to be quite amusing. He’s old and tired of everything happening around him. And I don’t blame him.

As you progress through the game, be prepared for a lot of backtracking if you’re into exploring all of the hidden locations and completing certain side quests (which are mostly about item collection and retrieval). And while you do get a map and are able to open teleportation portals (by spending spiritual energy points), it isn’t the easiest to follow. I would have liked to have some kind of pointer to aid my trek or more legends, etc.