HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewCurse of the Sea Rats Review

Curse of the Sea Rats Review

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Courtesy of Petoons Studios, the first ‘Rat-oidvania’, Curse of the Sea Rats, has arrived on the Xbox Store. It’s exactly as described – a Metroidvania but in a setting almost exclusively populated by rodents. And rodent pirates at that. 

The evil witch, Flora Burn, has stolen an amulet with otherworldly powers, using it to transform an entire ship’s crew and its pirate prisoners into rats. Run aground, you’ll be playing as one of these four captives and will need to track down Flora Burn, rescue the captain’s kidnapped son and win your freedom.  

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By far, Curse of the Sea Rats’ most impressive feature is its presentation. The game boasts an impressive array of hand-drawn and animated characters and environments that combine to create a vivid and immersive world that carries itself with a delightful, whimsical charm. Meanwhile, the game’s soundtrack perfectly complements the pirate theme.

It’s clear that a lot of effort has gone into crafting a visual experience of impressive quality and Petoons Studios should be wholly commended for that. 

Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set by its presentation. For one, the combat system is rather underwhelming. You’ll start off with a standard attack and block, and will quickly unlock a magical attack thereafter, but these quickly become stale. There are new moves to unlock but they require advancing down a set of RPG-like skill trees by spending the spiritual energy from slain enemies and undertaking the significant amount of grinding that entails.

And then, even when you get to the stage where these new moves are at your disposal, you’ll have probably advanced so far down the trees that the difficulty of the game has become fundamentally unbalanced. Curse of the Sea Rats’ enemies don’t scale with your level so you’ll arrive at a point where you can simply out-damage most enemies, including bosses. It becomes easier to simply stand in one spot and use your standard attack than waste time using other moves or learning attack patterns. What’s more, you can even pause the game whenever you like and chug healing items back to full HP without penalty. 

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The platforming is better, but even then there are times when it slips into the realm of unnecessarily frustrating. You’ll run into areas that have an abundance of unmarked death pits and annoyingly placed spike pits that seem impossible to clear without taking significant amounts of damage. It leads to tons of repetitive backtracking as you will need to go back and collect the spiritual energy and coins you dropped on death. 

And whilst the world is massive and beautiful to look at, it’s not particularly full. Screens usually only have one or two enemies, and there’s not much variety to them either. After all, there are only so many giant crabs or jumping frogs you can kill before you start wishing something else will appear to take their place. To its credit though, there are plenty of sidequests to complete and branching pathways to venture down and you are adequately rewarded for your efforts. 

Perhaps the worst part though is that it’s hard to even get Curse of the Sea Rats to function properly. In my first two hours of playtime, the game crashed three times. I would have put the game down there if not for the purpose of this review. But I persevered because I wanted to give Curse of the Sea Rats a fair shake… and the game crashed again. Fool me once eh?  

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For a game that doesn’t have an option to save from the menu, it’s unforgivable to have crashes like this. It seems to be triggered by moving between screens, which for a Metroidvania is kind of a big deal. And since Curse of the Sea Rats already includes significant amounts of backtracking to retrieve items lost on death, adding more onto that from random crashes is simply demotivating and incredibly frustrating.

So whilst it’s clear that a lot of effort went into Curse of the Sea Rats, the game really needs a significant amount of fine tuning. Similarly, there are a variety of great ideas included within it, but these need expanding on and fleshing out further to ensure this one turns into something that is truly brilliant. At present, Curse of the Sea Rats simply feels unremarkable. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Beautiful presentation
  • Large world
  • RPG-like elements
Cons:
  • Frequent crashes
  • Limited combat and unbalanced difficulty
  • Lots of backtracking
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - PQube
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 6 April 2023 | £16.99
Jacob Stokes
Jacob Stokes
Got my first Xbox 360 aged 10, and have stayed with Microsoft ever since. Not even an encounter with the dreaded Red Ring of Death (remember that?) could deter me. Nowadays, earning achievements is my jam. I’ll play anything for that sweet Gamerscore, even if it’s rubbish!
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Beautiful presentation</li> <li>Large world</li> <li>RPG-like elements</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Frequent crashes</li> <li>Limited combat and unbalanced difficulty</li> <li>Lots of backtracking</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - PQube</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 6 April 2023 | £16.99</li> </ul>Curse of the Sea Rats Review
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