Swashbucklers: Blue vs. Grey - PC - Review

Over the past couple of years, anything involving pirates has been experiencing a new influx in popularity, be it through T-Shirts, Halloween costumes or feature films. However, the “cool factor” of high-seas plundering seems to be approaching the end of its shelf life, and if games like Swashbucklers: Blue vs. Grey are any indication, then its well on its way to Davy Jones’s locker. Swashbucklers is an action-adventure game starring a cowboy-pirate scourging the seas in the middle of the American Civil War who, by the way, happens to be a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder. Much like its hero, Swashbucklers is a confounding mess, featuring a bunch of half-baked gameplay ideas and derivative elements, making it not very fun to play for anyone.

As I mentioned earlier, Swashbucklers puts you in the role of Abraham Grey, an ambiguously mentally disturbed Captain who begins terrorizing the Gulf of Mexico and northern parts of the Caribbean in order to gain some extra money and a new ship. Your character constantly hears voices from within himself and goes into split personality mode, doing some crazy things here and there and getting into all kinds of trouble with townspeople and naval ships.

The game is divided into several different areas of gameplay. There are some moments where you’ll be on your ship sailing throughout the Caribbean, interacting with passing ships and landing at port, and taking on rival ships and so on. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the naval element of the game is almost pulled directly from Sid Meier’s Pirates, a game that came out a couple years ago (which was a remake of a game many years old).

An action-adventure game with some RPG-elements attached, Swashbucklers gives you the ability to explore many towns, engaging the townspeople and getting into fights and so on. Unfortunately, this formula is very much “rinse-lather-repeat” fare as the game’s approach to the towns and ports is almost exactly the same each way through.

The game’s combat uses the keyboard to move your character around the environment, while you simply click away with the mouse in order to perform simple three-hit combos to wear away at your opponent’s hit points. This simplistic fighting mechanic gets very repetitive before too long. Even the one on one battles don’t fare much better, and are pretty boring.

Graphically, the game is done in a cartoony fashion, lacking a lot of details. While the game runs smoothly on any number of PCs, the overall look is pretty disappointing and doesn’t stand out against modern PC titles.

The sound is a bit better, but not by much. The music is well done, sounding quite epic for a low-end game like this. Unfortunately, there is the whole “Simlish” voice acting, which is pretty annoying. When the characters speak to each other, they do so in a “blah-bloh-bleh” kind of gibberish instead of real voice work. This gets quite annoying after a while, and will make many people reach for the mute button before too long.

Basically all of the elements in play in Swashbucklers are pretty half-baked, and none of them feel terribly compelling. The game spreads itself quite thin in terms of a cohesive story and theme, and the gameplay is derivative at best and at worst, just plain bad.

Review Scoring Details for Swashbucklers: Blue vs. Grey

Gameplay: 4.0
The game features a lot of elements pulled from other games, but none of them are executed in a terribly compelling way.

Graphics: 5.5
The game would look pretty good if it came out about three years ago.

Sound: 6.0
The music is pretty well done, but the “Simlish” speak gets pretty annoying very quickly.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 4.0
The nonsensical storyline is really nothing to get excited about.

Overall: 4.5
Swashbucklers is a derivative game that borrows heavily from other pirate-based games, but fails to capture their sense of fun and exploration. The storyline is not the least bit compelling and the gameplay elements are half-baked and boring.

Below Average

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