First, let me start with I really like this game. It's very much my type of game. I stopped watching a let's play in the middle of the let's play to buy this game and play. I think the art is great, I like the theme, the idea, I think the combat system is great. I think pretty much everything on a general level is great, and pretty much everything on a minor level is great as well.
I've played through four times. I lost the first two. Won the third. I would have won the fourth except that it wasn't registering that physical attacks couldn't hit the ghost pirate and so I wasted a couple turns, sent the meter to the wrong place and lost all three guys in a single attack. Very sad, but lesson learned. When I won, I won with around 2100. The game let me keep playing? So I beat every place except for Shangra La - I tried and failed on that one.
However, my main problem is this. Outside of the limited locations, (I've played all of them and I think fully explored all of them after four play throughs) the game just doesn't seem that different. I will give two examples - there's FTL and Long Live the Queen. Both are relatively short games that take one to two hours to complete from start to finish. You die a lot and eventually you figure out how to win - much like this game. The difference between these two games is that FTL is generic, has no story, and is incredibly varied. Long Live the Queen has a very indepth story and the same things always happen the same way if you make the same choices and have the same stats. But both games work, really really well and I've sunk a lot of hours into each (70+ in to FTL and 30+ into Long Live the Queen). Despite how much I like this game, I won't do that yet with this game.
The 'warning' screen at the beginning of the game says it all. I actually remember when I loaded the game for the first time thinking why are they telling me this? Does the game not work well enough for it to be obvious? In FTL the structure of the game itself makes it clear - you die, you restart and everything is very, very different. And you die a dozen times before you win - and by that point you know - every run through will be really different and it's great - you enjoy just playing through. Long Live the Queen is the same but different, you die, and you realize if I do the exact same thing, the exact same things happen - so maybe if I do it a little bit better - but you also make slight changes and make different choices and see how the story can change so much that it hooks you into following all the different paths - even though each path is the same every time.
This game falls into the middle, and I feel like that's a problem - it's not varied like FTL and it doesn't have a story like Long Live the Queen. I can play (and have played) with totally different characters every time but every game feels the same, some games I do better some worse, but it doesn't feel different - even if I'm playing with a totally different encounter style or skill set. If I have a survivalist I go to places where that is useful, diplomat, go to places where that is useful. If it's more useful to be aggressive I do that, or friendly I do that. It all feels the same and the locations are all the same. I'll probably play it a few more times just for fun (because I think it's a great game and I'd like to see what a few more leaders are like, maybe be Shangra La) but that's it in it's current state.
My suggestion would be either make it more varied - you'd probably need at least 30+ areas that you could cycle in and out all with unique goals and so on and have people and builds be totally different. Right now they seem like they are, but they aren't. You have to understand how each one works, so each build is like a puzzle, but once you understand how the mechanics works each build plays pretty much like every other one. You pick the right missions, buy the right equipment and does it really matter if one person uses enrage and another person uses terrify? It doesn't feel different. (compare this to the vast amount of weapon types in FTL which all felt very different)
Alternatively, there could be more of a story. Choices could have more consequences - it could matter if I acted aggressive, it could add or remove options from later encounters. Especially if it carried across missions. If you resolved a boss fight in a friendly matter and that actually meant something (rather than a slightly different choice of loot/reward) if that led you down a different path entirely then I would play through and try to beat each boss each way to discover what new stories I could find. If the world itself had deeper lore to it, and that depth was easy to see, it would be more interesting to explore.
In short, if I'm going to replay a game like this a dozen+ times, there has to be a reason. Right now the reason is I can't beat it reliably. I feel like I'm close to where I can reliably beat it with diverse sets of crews. As soon as I can actually beat it reliably I'll stop playing because there won't be anything left for me to do.
Bugs - I've experienced two bugs. First, with Ivan his collateral attack occasionally knocks out people, but they don't leave the screen - they just stay there looking like they're active but you can't fight them anymore. Second, if I play for awhile, it freezes up my computer. I'm not sure why that is, but the longer I play it the slower it gets. After a couple hours, sometimes it actually freezes.
(my only real game mechanic question is - how are the rewards determined for winning a fight? It seems to favor the style I use most and give nothing to the styles I don't use. Is this correct? If so, I think this is an issue. Every game I've played I've become further entrenched in one style, using the others occasionally to work with the system. But when I was getting four or more rewards for being devious, and nothing for anything else, I always finished fights by being devious.)
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