Black Sails – The Ghost Ship Review (PC)
Black Sails – The Ghost Ship is a game developed by a company called Deck13 which is based in Frankfurt, Germany. This game was originally created and released in 2010 in Germany with no translations to any other languages at the time.The plot of the game is inspired by the story of the Mary Celeste that went missing in 1872 and was then subsequently found abandoned practically undisturbed but with not a single soul left aboard the ship that were present at the time of its departure.
Black Sails is touted as a being part of the horror genre, but it’s not exactly nightmare inducing. It has a few jump scares but that’s about it. The atmospheric music was really good at getting the ol’ heart rate going at times though, I will certainly give it that. It is basically like any other point-and-click adventure game except that it is frustratingly difficult to find minuscule items within a darkened area. It doesn’t help when the camera angle is so bad that it will give you a crick in your neck while you try to look for items.
The camera angles were seriously one of the biggest banes of Black Sails along with the lack of any help when you can’t find what/where to do/go next. You are provided with a “hint” tool within the game that highlights interactive elements in the area that your character is currently in, but this doesn’t exactly help you when what you need to progress the story forward is in another area. So there is a lot of back and forth movements which is far too time consuming and the repetition gets irritating really quickly.
Even with this “hint” system you’re lucky to find the things that you need. There were so many points while playing that I was simply stuck because I couldn’t find the exact correct pixel to click. In truth, Black Sails was so frustrating to play that I gave up trying to complete it.
The characters were one-dimensional and I gave absolutely no cares for what could happen to them. This may have been down to the fact that I had no idea who they really were or why they were on this abandoned ship beyond the fact that their original ship had sunk leaving them within the ocean to drown. The introduction to the game explained nothing and left me with more questions than answers.
With a little research online I discovered that the German version had a voice-over by the character of Anna, the reporter that you play for most of the game, explaining how she and Lex, a sailor, came to be on the abandoned ship exactly. This was, for whatever reason, removed from the English release. I’m not sure if I’m glad or not about this omission though since the English voice acting was of two extremes; absolutely boring or completely over the top. It was usually more on the bland, flat side of the spectrum. It certainly didn’t make me want to play, nor did it help my lack of care for Anna and Lex.
Apparently the introduction voice-over was not the only thing removed from the English translation of the game. There are countless notes that you find throughout the game that are pretty much illegible unless you have a degree in graphology. These were read out by Anna as she discovered them in the German version. Why were these voice-overs left out of the translated version? It doesn’t make any sense and just makes the game even more annoying to play if you have to squint at cursive, splotchy graphical ink on poorly coloured parchment paper.
The controls were like any point-and-click adventure. The graphics were a little blocky but given the fact that the game is 5 years old, they don’t look too bad. Give it a re-texture pack and the scenery and backgrounds could look pretty damn good. The story didn’t grab my interest but that could be as much down to the fact that I’m not much of a horror genre fan as it was the poor execution.
I wasn’t blown away by this game. I wanted it to be good, I tried so hard to get into it but I couldn’t. I had almost zero interest in it by the time I gave up on playing it. I want to find good things to say about it, I do, but I also don’t want to lie to you all. It’s an okay game that is now out-dated graphically and mechanically. If you are a fan of the genre then try this game out. You may well love it. If you don’t like horror, point-and-click or mediocre voice-acting then you should give this a miss. It isn’t a bad price at £6.99 but I would not part with my cash since there are better games in the genre and play style out there.
3 missing voice over translations out of 10