I must say, I really enjoyed Ship Of Fools. It looked like a fun time in the trailers and after playing it myself well, it’s even better.
Ship of Fools is a roguelike adventure where you set sail across deadly and dangerous waters in your trusty boat trying to stop a stop a storm that’s making all water creatures and some massive leviathans go crazy. Once you set sail, you control one of the Fools, a set of quirky and zany characters and it’s your job to load your cannons, fire at enemies and keep your ship afloat for as much time as possible.
But in a roguelike fashion, you’ll fail, a lot. But with each run, your ship will stronger as you get to spend the hard earned currency Tendrils and upgrade the various aspects of your ship. After you eventually sink, you will go float ashore and wake up in the Lighthouse that serves as the hub world for the game. Here it’s where you can switch to different Fools, but also spend Tendrils to upgrade your ship.
There’s like an old lady that sells well, soups, that will upgrade your ship health, available slots where you can store ammo types and other ship trinkets that you will come across on each run and much more. Here you can also upgrade your the many variants of ship cannons that you will slowly but surely unlock in the game. As you progress more through the game you will unlock more characters in the Lighthouse that will sell you other valuable things that will help you in each voyage you take. Each one of the Fools comes pre-equipped with a special trinket that will aid you during each run.
Like in FTL and many other roguelikes, after you set sail, you can choose your path in a hexagonal map. Most of the hexagons have an icon that tell you what you’ll find in that space. Learning early what these icons mean is extremely helpful as then you’ll know where to go in order to hopefully get more powerful early in the run.
Each run is unique, as it’s usual with roguelikes, so during most of the early you will be at the RNG mercy. For example, on one run I managed to find a couple of character trinkets that boosted and gave special effects to my cannon shots, but also a couple of cool ship upgrades like oil covered ammo, fire ammo and bombs that I could load onto my cannons for some massive damage. This combination made killing the first sea level a breeze. I died almost immediately as soon as I started on the next big sea level, but that’s the point with roguelikes anyway.
Sail, sink, repeat. Each run, you collect more valuable Tendrils which allow you to upgrade your ship so you can last longer and well, collect more Tendrils and so on. This gameplay loop is great. While I only played solo, since I don’t have a second DualSense controller or a friend, Ship of Fools can be played in couch or online co-op with a friend. No online matchmaking though, at least for now, and I really hope that can be added in a future patch.
Luckily for solo players, the devs have included a nice auto-cannon that automatically fires at enemies. You still have to load cannon balls into it and move it so it can actually fire to enemies. I wish I had someone else to play with as it can get quite hectic. You have to constantly move around the ship, use any available planks to patch the ship, load both cannons, fire the other cannon at the enemies, use the harpoon to fish valuables from the water and use the oar to bash the head of any creepy crawlies that board your ship. That’s a lot of things to keep in mind, but at the same time it’s really satisfying surviving each encounter.
Visually the game looks absolutely stunning with a cool Don’t Starve / Tim Burton-esque artstyle and sounds even better. The music picks up quite a lot during each encounter, especially during those hectic moments, fueling you to load, shoot and bash your way through.
Ship of Fools is such a great roguelike experience that will keep you hooked for a while. If you can though, set sail along with a friend as the game will be easier and a lot more fun. Yeah, I can easily recommend this game. Thanks for reading!