This seafaring strategy experience from Picaresque Studio brings something rather intriguing to the table. Nantucket, blends story and strategy in an engaging manner, creating a game that feels unique and well constructed. With elements that will provide interest for a wide variety of gamers, there is definitely a great deal of charm in this title and it certainly offers something quite different.
Nantucket takes the player back to the legend of Moby Dick, placing you in the story of Ishamel, with the unfolding events occurring some years after the story told in Herman Melville's world-famous novel. The initial tutorial clearly lays out the basics for you, but after this, you are placed in charge of your own crew where you must learn to manage all the different elements of your battered boat and less than ideal crewmen. There are different types of crewmen and higher level crewmen have more beneficial traits that can help you during your voyages.
You begin in a port, where you must stock up on supplies, visit the tavern to find potential crewmen, look in the paper to select quests and jobs to take on and begin research on any improvements you are able to undertake on your ship and general ship management abilities. Once you have selected a quest and have enough food and water to make the journey, you set off on the wide ocean and see what perils await you. The skill level of the crewmen you are able to hire is affected by your prestige as a captain. Events during gameplay can increase your prestige and make hiring crewmen easier.
During journeys, you will be presented with small events and interactions that can impact your prestige level and have effects on the crew during the course of the journey. Some decisions may lead to a decrease in morale, for example.
Some quests or random encounters may involve combat. The game is set in the golden age of whaling and for the most part, these combat encounters are battles with whales that you need to hunt. The combat uses a dice and action card style system, with different dice needing to be rolled to achieve different types of actions. This is one of the trickier aspects of the game and takes some getting used to. It is probably the least well put together aspect of the game and feels quite clunky and difficult to make much positive progress with. The levelling system also appears to work fairly poorly, which seems a shame and could cause some frustration.
Visually, Nantucket is lovely. The hand-drawn style works perfectly with the nature of the game and brings the map and world to life in a way that really emphasizes the era that the game is set in. Muted colours help to strengthen the uncertainty and bleakness of the vast ocean, with this, in turn, being a constant reminder that plenty of things can go wrong during any voyage.
The soundtrack is nice, but not incredibly memorable. It functions well in the aspects of the game that it needs to impact the most, providing effective and subtle background to the combat and travel, with the sound effects used within the game further enhancing the role the music plays. Overall, the sound design is well done, helping the game feel more alive without feeling out of place at any point. The soundtrack could perhaps be more prominent in places.
Picaresque Studio has created a lovely game for the most part. There’s plenty to enjoy here even if you’re not a massive fan of strategy games due to the variation in the gameplay and the different pacing of different missions. A game that can easily see a few hours of enjoyment and offers a really unique idea and setting. For the price tag it could be argued that it’s too shallow a game for the cost but ultimately it is fun and quite different from many other games currently available, blending strategy and adventure in an interesting manner.