Trash Sailors, developed by Flucky Machine Games and published by tinyBuild, drops up to four players in online and local Co-Op on a raft made of trash as they navigate hazardous waterways filled with debris, weather hazards, and plenty of, you guessed it, trash. The game puts an emphasis on task delegation, adapting to an ever-changing set of circumstances, and careful resource management.
Made up of only two developers out of Poland, it is really impressive just how tightly tuned of an experience Flucky Machine Games has managed to release. Trash Sailors features a number of levels alongside an arcade mode that pits players against a variety of different obstacles. There are crocodiles that bite off chunks of the raft, spiders that have to be chased away with a spotlight, waves that sweep players away, and plenty more. Running through the game’s campaign is an exercise in constantly exposing oneself to new challenges.
On top of the hazards players also have to delegate a number of roles, whether it be shooting the cannons at enemies, beating raft-born enemies away, fishing trash out of the water for supplies, recharging the light, or steering the raft away from obstacles. This is where the delicate co-op balance of the game comes to the front, and it is impressively well-tuned. The entirety of Trash Sailors is playable in solo, but the difficulty scales with multiple players and is much more fun in that form.
Players can make things slightly easier on themselves by assembling a team of four distinct sailors on top of purchasing a range of upgrades for their raft, but none of them are really necessary to beat the entire game. Even more impressively balanced is the chaos of the levels themselves.
Running through a level in Trash Sailors will have players yelling, cheering, and wincing as they struggle to barely skim past a rock, barely limp across the finish line of a level, or frantically try to put blame on whoever was supposed to be keeping the spotlight running. The levels take players through a constant coaster of high stress and recuperation without ever feeling so overwhelming that all hope seems gone.
Trash Sailors is also incredibly well optimized. After trying both online and local co-op on both a high and low-end PC, it ran without a hitch, although some of the online functionality could do with some ironing out as there were some annoyances getting players in a lobby and keeping them there between levels.
The game’s art style also shines. It gives all of the action a lot of character and personality while still being able to clearly communicate what everything is and what is going on. It blurs is a mix of the Don’t Starve and We Need to Go Deeper to become its own style and is accompanied by some fantastic music that is catchy without being distracting.
There were some technical issues that came up while playing, such as enemies not appearing for all players in online matches, but they were relatively far and few between. The main concern that the game leaves on the table at this point is there just not being enough of it. With the number of upgrades, sailors, and levels that are included it is more than worth the price of entry, but at the end of the campaign, I couldn’t help but be hungry for more.
It is easy to imagine just how far the formula could be stretched to give players more challenging levels, new environments, sailor types to tailor one’s playstyle around, or even different raft layouts to mix things up. With how small the development team is the size of the title is very impressive, but hopefully, it will get some love moving into the future as well to see it reaching its full potential.
Trash Sailors is one of the rare co-op-centric titles that manages to deliver a chaotic and fun experience without annoyance. Levels never feel too punishing, enemies don’t have overbearing mechanics, and no part of the puzzle is undervalued in the grand scheme of things. This makes for an experience that borders on perfection for any group of friends looking for a new game to tackle together. The team creatives behind it should be immensely proud of what they have managed to create, and anyone even slightly interested in Trash Sailors owes it to themselves to pick it up.
Trash Sailors is available December 16 on PC.
Trash Sailors is one of the rare co-op-centric titles that manages to deliver a chaotic and fun experience without annoyance. Levels never feel too punishing, enemies don’t have overbearing mechanics, and no part of the puzzle is undervalued in the grand scheme of things. This makes for an experience that borders on perfection for any group of friends looking for a new game to tackle together.