headerBlack Sails: The Ghost Ship
Developed by Deck 13
Platforms: PC
September 17, 2015
Reviewed by Jess Landry

If you tend to gravitate towards puzzle games, then it’s very possible you’ll enjoy Black Sails.

The game begins its story with a brief introduction to Anna, a reporter traveling abroad on a cruise ship. Suddenly, a storm comes out of nowhere and ravages the ship. Two people manage to survive the wreckage: Anna and Lex. They climb aboard a mysterious ghost ship that just so happens to be passing by.

Once aboard, you take the controls as Anna. With Lex injured (and kind of an asshole), it’s up to you to scour the ship for medical supplies and any sign of life. As you make your way through the empty corridors and foggy levels, it becomes clear that this ship may harbour some deep, dark secrets (see what I did there?).

Black Sails is a point and click adventure game that’s heavy on exploration and problem solving, and low on combat and strategy (there’s zero of it, to be exact). The puzzles aren’t overly challenging, so it’s likely you’ll find yourself breezing through the game.

The original German version of the game was released in 2011 to favourable reviews, and it’s easy to see why some enjoyed it: the set design is nice, at times the atmosphere is creepy, and the overall feel fits well into the 1800’s era.

In this English version however, the dialogue and voiceovers get lost in translation. The actor voicing Anna is nothing to write home about but the one voicing Lex simply doesn’t cut it. His stiff, awkward delivery is enough to take any player out of the game’s world though more often than not you can skip the dialogue scenes (phew).

The best part of Black Sails is its overall design. The set pieces do have a gloomy atmosphere surrounding them and it makes it easy to fall into that era no questions asked. There are some great backgrounds and intricate design work. One design choice that doesn’t work though are the journal notes that Anna finds around the ship. Although they look quite realistic, the cursive font used is difficult to read so nothing much is gained from them.

The main story is a little hit and miss as well. Without spoiling too much, Anna is involved with the ghost ship more than she realizes. When you reach the end of the game, you’re able to make several different choices that will each lead to their own ending. I would assume that all endings try to wrap the story the best they can, but the overall twist didn’t really work for me conceptually.

I can’t say much more about Black Sails other than it was just okay. The tone of the game is dark and brooding but the awkward dialogue offsets much of the atmosphere. It’s been suggested that the original version is superior, so if you can handle everything being in German, it might be better to check that one out instead.