Crimson: Steam Pirates isn’t just a game– it’s like a paperback adventure novel you find on the spinner rack. You crack it open with no expectations, and inside you find something surprising. Crimson welcomes hardcore and casual gamers into a world of turn-based combat over the high seas, and it’s a world full of pirate ships, zeppelins, and the unexpected.
Pages of a book open each stage of the game. The prose, written like the journal of an adventurer, introduces you to the cast of characters, like the hero Thomas Blood and the seductive Captain Blackheart. Original photographs and art also accompany these pages, enveloping you in a fantastic story. These pages also give you your objectives for each stage, letting you know if this stage is a story of combat or treasure hunting.
We’ve always wanted our own hidden volcano lair.
The gameplay is perfectly suited for a touchscreen. You direct your ships by dragging an outline of the vessel to its next location. Depending on your ship’s crew, you will also have actions available to you. You can use abilities like “full steam,” which increases your ship’s speed to reach the objective, or “the lash,” which allows you to fire a ship’s cannons quicker. Once everything is in place for all of your ships, you submit your moves and watch the ships travel across the sea. If any of your ships are attacked by enemy vessels and are sent to the briny deep, you must restart.
At certain times, you will need to board enemy ships to gain treasure or to commandeer the ship. At this point, the game’s strategy completely changes. You will need to place your crew into attack waves, pitting their strength against the enemy’s. If you win all three waves, the enemy ship is yours.
You will also need to take into account islands and shallow water, which can change your ship’s path and cause your enemies to get away from you. That is, until you find Jules Verne’s famed balloon. Air vehicles add another layer to combat, expanding your fleet and your strategy.
War on the open sea.
Currently, Crimson: Steam Pirates only has two chapters. When you download the game, you are given the first chapter for free, and you can purchase additional chapters. Once you complete the first chapter, you’ll have a hard time stopping. The game ends on an exciting cliffhanger, luring you in with the promise of new game elements.
Once you’ve completed each campaign and are looking for added challenge, you can also try to win each stage under par. The developers have given each stage a certain number of moves with which the stage can be completed. Trying to win in as few moves as possible adds hours of replay value.
If you have friends who dig Crimson as well, you can duel. Duels consist of two opposing teams of pirates, each trying to complete their objectives before the other. These are designed for pass-and-play game sessions, and unfortunately there is no option to duel online.
Crimson: Steam Pirates is a blast. The emphasis on storytelling is something that is too rare in mobile gaming, and the presentation is clean and simple. With the promise of new chapters soon to come, Crimson will keep our attention for quite some time.