Just yesterday I took a ride on Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean and once again understood the nostalgic allure of pirates in fantastical lore. Pirates represent unbridled adventure and liberty and a chance to view history as a malleable thing one might shape with their own imagination. Pirates are perfectly suited for film and literature and as it turns out, iPad games.
Crimson: Steam Pirates is a turn-based steampunk adventure which features naval warfare complete with cannon fire, boarding and capturing ships, fort bombardment and treasure plundering. As players engage enemy ships, the motion between them resembles a dance until a ship pulls alongside another and the grappling hooks come out and sailors battle.
During the grappling hook mini-game, you select individual sailors to board the enemy vessel, each with their own numerical combat rating. Each wave of attackers must have a rating greater than that of the enemy in order to succeed. I found myself wishing for more suspense in these moments, the likes of which a game like Sid Meir’s Civilization affords. The boarding mini-game is over too quickly and seems like a missed opportunity to include a high-stakes battle.
But that’s a gripe that is rather quickly forgiven in light of the game’s other features. As you progress, you gain new characters who augment your buccaneer crew and offer special abilities like increased cannon range, movement speed and ship repair. At the later levels you must be wary of the positioning of your ships and anticipate the movement of the enemy. The game increases in difficulty to the point where if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself poorly positioned between two sets of cannons and your ship will sink to the bottom.
The game features an art style that has fun with typical pirate conventions. The steampunk influences make it seem like it has its own universe and fiction, including airships, submarines, and other things you’d certainly find in a Johnny Depp movie. That being said, the soundtrack does seem lifted directly from the Jerry Bruckheimer productions.
Crimson: Steam Pirates is free until the eight missions of Chapter 1 are complete. Additional chapters run $1.99, and I’m hovering very close over the purchase button for more pirate action. Head over to the app store to start your adventure. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find Crimson: Steam Pirates available in the Google Chrome App Store.