With a mix of swashbuckling, platforming and punishing combat, Curse of the Sea Rats is here to show you a hand-drawn art style has more dimension than you might expect in this "ratroidvania". We took it for a quickie to find its buried treasure.
So who is your character anyway?
You’ve got a choice between four characters, each with their own sprinkling of backstory and upgrade trees. The tale begins back in 1777 with the Royal Navy flagship caught in a storm and cursed by a pirate-witch, Flora Burn, turning our four pirate heroes and the entire crew into rats.
The captain dangles the carrot (or should that be a block of cheese…?) of freedom if Flora is defeated, breaking the curse, and so off you go to explore the surrounding shores, which seem to be filled with not just the pirate-witch’s minions, but angry sea creatures too.
What's it like to play?
The visual style is slick and the performance doesn’t have any problem keeping up with any furious button mashing that may or may not be going on, and traversing through the worlds is fairly painless. The areas you can jump to are fairly clear and there’s a slide move and a few others which perhaps don’t get as much play as they could.
When you start to get to dealing with enemies things are a little less smooth as you find yourself taking damage from just grazing them, more so than being attacked. At the same time, the parry move has a very specific, slow timing, so you need to press the button about a quarter of a second before you need to be protected.
All this leads to combat encounters being a case of trial and improvement, and with only a few safe spaces the journey back to where you actually want to get to can feel frustratingly far.
Sounds like it made you a bit seasick…
Platformers can be hard work for me to begin with, and adding in some harder bosses thanks to incremental buffs for levelling up and you’ve got a recipe for a frustrating and punishing time.
If you thrive on that sort of a challenge then the game will keep pulling you forward, but for me the need to gain 10 or more levels just to break the first boss put me on the back foot almost before I’d begun.
That said, it’s clearly well made and the characters have beautiful designs, and the enemies have a lot of ingenuity to them too, even if some of their attacks are annoying in a way only a 2D platformer enemy can be.
So what’s the verdict?
Curse of the Sea Rats grabbed my attention when I first played it back at EGX and the finished product is every bit as impressive as the first impression. It is definitely worth checking out if you are into these creative mix of genres the team has created.