Tempest is an open-world action RPG developed by Lion’s Shade and published by HeroCraft. Originally released on PC, Mac, and mobile platforms in 2016, Tempest recently ported to PS4 . While Tempest is, in theory, a great callback to Sid Meier’s Pirates, one of my favorite games of all-time, the slow gameplay and clunky interface, unfortunately, outweigh the enormous number of quests available, making for a tedious and often frustrating experience.
In Tempest, like most other pirate games, you play as a captain who needs to rebuild his crew, as well as his reputation with several competing factions. To do this, you sail around three different continents, sink enemy ships, and accept quests. As you go, you unlock more ships for yourself, including customization and upgrade options, as well as more efficient crew members and perks from allied factions. In addition to basic quests, which usually involve shuffling people from island to island or taking down opponents in battle, there are also more difficult “legendary” quests and sea monsters to defeat that offer even greater rewards.
While you do have the choice to set sail and navigate throughout the world on the open seas, the quickest method of transportation simply involves selecting your destination on the map. This functions similarly to fast travel in other games, except once your ship reaches the end of its path, you must enter the sailing mode to interact with the town, fight an enemy, or conduct whatever other business you may have at that location.
Unfortunately, even though this is the quickest way to traverse around the world, it still doesn’t feel actually efficient. The ship moves across the map incredibly slowly and, for some reason, you can’t look around the map at all once it starts or it’ll stop progressing completely. I spent a decent amount of my time “playing” Tempest without my controller in my hands, waiting for my tiny boat to reach its final destination, which wasn’t exactly the fun sailing experience I was hoping for.
Additionally, since the game is attempting to be realistic, sailing around from the open-world perspective wasn’t much better in terms of pacing. The ship moves slowly in this mode as well, mimicking the mechanics of real sea travel, and if the wind direction doesn’t match up with where you want to go, there’s not much you can do. The biggest benefit of the open-world mode is the visually stunning ocean, which I adored spending time in. But, the appealing visuals could never quite outweigh the struggle of traveling around the world.
In fact, the realistic approach to sailing in Tempest is the game’s biggest flaw, both with travel and warfare. The gunnery in Tempest is easy enough to understand and use in theory – you have different types of ammunitions that you can shoot from the side of your ship that will harm either the enemy’s ship or crew – but, once again, wind direction and sailing mechanics interfere with progress.
In order to target opponents, you must, of course, line your ship up next to theirs to fire your cannons. This is incredibly difficult. The opponent’s ship seems to always move faster than yours and has no problems with wind resistance. As a result, each battle was incredibly frustrating and there were quite a few times that I found myself at a complete disadvantage because reaching the enemy’s ship meant fighting the wind at an impossible angle.
In addition, whenever I would eventually take down my opponent and board their ship, my men were always outnumbered, meaning that I would fail anyway as I was taken down by the fencing battles. Neither part ever felt completely fair, which heavily impacted the enjoyability of the game since the main goal, just like any other pirate game, is sailing around and sinking other ships to steal their gold.
Not everything about Tempest is a bust, though. The game advertises itself as having “hundreds of quests” and it’s definitely not lying. There is a lot of content to dive into. Unfortunately, figuring out what to do with these quests isn’t always easy. Sometimes locations on the map have quest markers that help you know where to go to progress and sometimes they don’t, which wouldn’t be a huge problem if the quest instructions weren’t so vague.
That aside, however, I never ran out of things to do while playing through Tempest. The game introduces you to multiple different quests at almost every port and, in most cases, doesn’t require that you complete the previous quest to accept the next one. Even when I was struggling with a specific task, typically because of the poor sailing mechanics, I could always find something else to move onto and try instead, which kept me engaged with the game for much longer than it would have otherwise.
Overall, Tempest was a disappointing game. It was incredibly difficult to sit down for an extended period of time and not feel exasperated with the game. Tempest’s aggravating sailing mechanics in a game dedicated to sea travel are too hard to ignore, bogging down the entire experience and making progression feel like an unmanageable chore. Though the world is beautiful and includes an endless amount of quests, the good is, unfortunately, not enough to outweigh the bad for this pirate adventure.
Tempest’s aggravating sailing mechanics in a game dedicated to sea travel are too hard to ignore, bogging down the entire experience and making progression feel like an unmanageable chore. Though the world is beautiful and includes an endless amount of quests, the good is, unfortunately, not enough to outweigh the bad for this pirate adventure.