Are you ready to head off on an adventure across the seas? Sail Forth on Xbox puts you in charge of your very own ship, with which you are free to explore the seas, plunder pirate ships, and trade with others.
You begin the game with a ravaged ship; one that barely managed to survive its prior misfortunes. As you begin to sail, Sail Forth gives you a basic rundown of the mechanics on how to navigate and sail your ship. Once the controls start to feel comfortable, you immediately come across another stranded sailor.
They are wholeheartedly welcomed to your crew, at which point another of the game’s mechanics starts to take form. Other sailors can be recruited to your cause, and not much further into the game you can start recruiting other ships and have these new sailors captain them for you as part of your fleet.
It’s a very cool mechanic, where as you find and recruit new sailors and buy or capture new ships, your fleet begins to grow. If your ship is sunk during your adventures, instead of immediately receiving a game over, you are instead placed in charge of the next ship in your fleet and so on.
Each ship can be outfitted with different weapons and upgrades, depending on the size and specs of the ship. Some vessels are built for speed and only have room for a couple of cannons. Others are built to be warships and can be equipped with half a dozen. There are ship mods that increase your armor levels, load capacity so you can attach heavier cannons, and even ammo mods that allow you to cause status effects like burning when in combat.
It’s a unique and enjoyable system that allows you to really adjust and play around with the performance of each ship.
As far as the plot goes, Sail Forth has a loose narrative, but it really doesn’t take centre stage when it comes to the gameplay. It’s more of a general guide that keeps pushing you to move forward and explore. There also isn’t much variety in character design and the way the NPCs talk actually gets to be quite a bit annoying after a while.
The amount of sailor jargon that has been dropped into Sail Forth, focusing around a plot, is impressive in its own right. But it does not take long for it to feel like the dialogue consists of made-up expressions that never even existed. I eventually got to the point where I wasn’t even attempting to decipher their expressions because I was taking too much time thinking the dialogue through, when at the end of the conversation it didn’t really matter.
It’s this which really becomes an issue in terms of gameplay as well. The fleet management system is something that is really cool to see, especially in a smaller indie game. But the gameplay loop consists primarily of fetch quests and combat that, while not bad, can get repetitive fairly quickly.
It makes for a hard time, pushing the player away when they want to sit down for longer sessions. And that’s a bit odd, because on the face of it, Sail Forth seems like a game that I would’ve been addicted to.
The simplicity of the upgrade systems are what ultimately made it difficult for me to enjoy the game. Ship upgrades are unlocked by acquiring lumenade – a resource that can be taken to a researcher that pops up in different areas throughout the game. But all of the trading and building in the game is done with wood planks.
Repairing items, buying new ships, selling ships – it all revolves around wood planks. It’s a very simple system and at the end of each fetch quest or inside every chest, all that really matters is how many wood planks you get.
The combat does start to vary a bit more as you get further along with the game and start to learn a little bit more about the world of Sail Forth. There are even boss fights that you can take part in as you make your way to the end of each major area. But for some reason I was never as captivated by it as I was hoping to be.
You have to give Sail Forth credit for its chill art design and the calming sounds which ensure sailing around is a nice enough experience. In smaller doses, Sail Forth could well feel like a great game, especially if you take into account the map and the small areas which play host to a few tasks, all before you move on to the next cluster of islands. These don’t take long to explore, and so if you are in a hurry or short on time, looking for a compact game about sailing, then Sail Forth might be the one for you.
Sail Forth is on the Xbox Store