Pirates always go, right? And making a game that plays like the classic Pirates isn’t much of a challenge. One might think so, considering the means and opportunities available today. In fact, I’ve rarely had as much fun with a pirate game as I did with Sid Meier’s classic, and Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale from Kalypso and developer Gaming Minds Studios fails to spark the same excitement in me.
Why is it? Well, to be honest, parts of Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale will feel very familiar if you’ve played Port Royale 4, at least I did. Sometimes one has the impression that we are dealing with a sprawling mod focused on pirates. Well, you don’t ask the full price for the game, it costs a good half of a normal full-price game, but the impression remains that you’ve seen some things before. Mind you, this only applies if you know Port Royale 4.
The pirate life in Tortuga
But where you can play for a nation in Port Royale 4, this is all about pirate life. The world looks familiar, but that’s not surprising, because the Caribbean in pirate days is the Caribbean in pirate days. At the beginning you choose a pirate captain and take control of a single ship. You just start small.
your goal is the to become the best and most famous pirate in the Caribbean, to quarrel with the colonial powers and ultimately to defeat a large treasure fleet. Who doesn’t like swimming in money? The road to get there is long and rocky. As I said, you have your own ship to take care of. But over time, your fleet will grow. You need more captains, take care of those ships equally, and then there’s the crews. They want to be kept happy and have their own share of the spoils.
At the beginning, Tortuga guides you step by step through its individual mechanics, which also includes the satisfaction of the teams. You make contracts with them and promise them different things, which you should then fulfill. And a little gold always makes them happier for a while anyway. You can go the full pirate route here and loot anything that doesn’t sail out of your reach. Alternatively, it is also possible to increase your cash register with trade if you do it cleverly. There are also optional tasks to be completed, such as transporting passengers.
Turn-based combat on the high seas
When it comes to combat, Tortuga, like Port Royale 4, relies on a turn-based system for naval combat. You have to make sure that you put your ships in a good firing position, on top of that there are different types of ammo and special abilities that you can use. Finding the optimal position is not always easy, because of course such a ship does not change direction on the spot. At the same time, different ranges for different types of armament have to be considered and ships are more worth boarding than destroying. Proper planning is therefore important.
And what about the pirate feeling otherwise? It’s okay. I don’t know why, there was never a real mood when playing. This may also be due to the fact that driving around on the sea, for example, feels a bit too boring, especially when you are trying to cover long distances. Sometimes the controls can get a bit fiddly, and if you’re targeted by fleets significantly stronger than you, you’re in trouble. In that case, you’ll have to try to escape from them because if they catch you, they’ll make short work of you. So you will be significantly weakened. Blessed is the one whose last score was not long ago.
There is also a complete lack of adventures on land, which is actually part of the game with pirates. You dock in ports, but then you simply select different buildings via a circular menu. Technically, Tortuga is on par with Port Royale 4. It looks good, but not earth-shattering. And I think that’s okay for what it wants to be. At least I didn’t have any major problems during testing.
Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale Conclusion
At the end of the day, Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale offers solid pirate fare. Can be played if you like pirates, especially since it’s not the most expensive game you can buy. In some respects, however, it could be a little better. I miss the pirate adventures on land and the ship trips aren’t really exciting either. On top of that, I repeatedly had the impression that I was playing a kind of mod for Port Royale 4 due to the technology and the adopted mechanics of the turn-based naval battles. It’s not bad at all, but neither does it generate exceptionally high enthusiasm. As I said: solid pirate fare that is easy to play, but which probably hardly anyone will remember in a year’s time.
Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale Rating: 7/10
Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale – Pros and Cons
- Focuses solely on the pirate life
- You can also trade if you don’t just want to raid ships
- Extensive game world and many ship types
- Cheap price
- Boat trips can be boring
- No pirate adventures ashore
- Partly reminiscent of a mod for Port Royale 4
- Pirate feeling could be even better
Developer: Gaming Minds Studios – Publishers: Calypso – Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X/S (both tested), PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 – release: 01/19/2023 – Genre: strategy, simulation – Price (RRP): €24.99 (PC), €29.99 (console)