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Republic of Pirates Review (PC)

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Republic of Pirates Review

Sometime in the mid-1600s, the republic of pirates sprung up. Yes, it’s, in fact, a real historical era that the new RTS city-builder, Republic of Pirates, takes inspiration from. You probably are itching to take it out for a spin but aren’t quite sure yet whether it’ll live up to expectations. Especially given the already booming Anno 1800 contender and the upcoming Anno 117: Pax Romana on the horizon. 

Perhaps you’ve already caught wind of the ongoing 10% discount on Steam, bringing the price down to $22.49. Perhaps the free Demo you can check out instead, to help make up your mind about Republic of Pirates, still hasn’t moved you. Hey, I get it. So many games are being released that end up disappointing, price cuts or not. 

To put your mind at ease, we’ve broken down what you can expect from the game in our Republic of Pirates review down below.

Vengeance Must Abide

Republic of Pirates Review

Surprisingly, Crazy Goat Games has crafted a story campaign. It’s one of the two game modes available. Set in the mid-1600s, during the Golden Age of Piracy, the story goes that the pirates of an archipelago came together to form an alliance called the “Republic of Pirates.” However, as peace reigned, three factions joined forces to overthrow the leader of the republic, who also happens to be your father. 

You’ve since been raised by John Artley, your first mate, determined to regroup and rebuild your forces. And so, the campaign kicks off with an island where you’re required to set up a self-sustaining port. Your goal is to assemble a fleet of ships, sustained by a thriving port city, and set sail to engage the three factions in battle. 

Slowly but surely, you’ll enact vengeance on your father’s rivals and re-establish the republic once more.

Aspiring Anno

Republic of Pirates barren Land

If you’ve played Anno, you’ll enjoy a soft landing. Republic of Pirates is very much an Anno-wannabe with a pirate theme. Your campaign kicks off with barren land, from which you’re required to build and manage a booming economy. 

As a pirate-themed city-builder, you’ll need wood to build your ships. So, you set up lumber mills, preferably near dense forests. Besides building ships, planks of wood will come in handy when constructing residential homes. 

You’ll need to ensure a constant supply. So, probably set up connecting roads from the residential homes to the lumber mills. However, as production increases, you’ll need to set up storage depots close to the mills. It’s all a matter of efficiency, ensuring your production chains run smoothly. 

It’s not just wood you’ll need, but also cotton to make the sails for your ship. This requires setting up cotton farms that follow the same concept of efficiency. Your port will keep growing in size and function, demanding sufficient roads and workers to sustain the economy.

Make Jack a Happy Boy

City

Growth corresponds to more people, whether workers, delegates, tourists, and more. You’ll need to keep them happy by providing for their basic needs. This calls for fishing expeditions, farming, and herding. But you’ll also need to keep your workers’ morale high, ensuring they have places like taverns to let off some steam.

The more efficiently your port city runs, the more upgrades you unlock, allowing you to level up from building small ships to giant battleships. So far, all of the city-building elements will be familiar to Anno players. If you’ve played the Tropico games, you should also have a good idea of the gameplay, with Republic of Pirates evidently drawing inspiration from both franchises. 

Cozy Through and Through

 

 

City building

However, while Anno can become quite intensive, the Republic of Pirates is relatively more straightforward. You can kick your feet up, playing through a relaxing city-building toolset that doesn’t ask too much of you. The mechanics are pretty responsive, even creating bends in the roads for you. 

Sure, you won’t find the intricate detailing of Cities: Skylines, for example. Instead, narrow down city-building to the simplest logic. You won’t also find complex graphs, but rather overviews of your stats so far, including population, assets, production rate, and more.

It’s easy to keep track of how much inventory you have in your storage depots. Moreover, the map color-codes amenities for you, allowing you to quickly spot the resources your port needs more of. It makes it the perfect game for city-builder newbies, providing the best starting point to familiarize yourself with the genre. 

Lead the Charge

ships attack

You want to also put up a strong defense against invaders. These are the hostile ships that constantly patrol the seas and will strike you down on sight. But it can also be ships that you have fought with already. 

Once you’ve put up a strong defense, it’s time to go out into the unknown and conquer uncharted territory. You’ll set sail, starting with a small fleet of ships. At times, you’ll encounter neutral ships who won’t engage you in battle unless you attack them first. 

But naval combat isn’t a choice with a guarantee that you’ll run into hostile ships. Similar to the city-building mechanics, though, naval combat isn’t at all difficult. Provided you have tank ships that give you time to disengage and approach the enemy off-tank, you’ll be good to go. 

It’s partially an issue to do with the AI that rarely goes out of its way to pursue your ships. But also, the naval combat system in general feels lacking. Your ships, for one, aren’t as varied as you’d hope. Meanwhile, the controls are basic. Still, the controls respond seamlessly.

Personal Style

John

It’s commendable, too, that you can choose a captain for individual ships. Further, the captains have unique strengths and weaknesses, while also having room for leveling up, which combined add an extra layer of depth. As captains acquire new skills, they become more likely to win battles, providing an extra incentive to level them up.

Meanwhile, the ships also have categories, with more giant ones capable of inflicting and sustaining more damage. However, the customization system still feels like it can be a little bit better. With more options, you can play more often and explore different scenarios, crafting a play style unique to you.

Victory is Yours to Claim

hell's gate island

Post-battle, you’ll loot from the wreckage, often more wood or rare gems. Thereafter, you’ll steer your ships to friendly docks for repair. With your ships constantly taking damage, it’s paramount to remain close to a friendly dock, which is where conquering new territory comes in handy. 

If you’re lucky to win against enemy factions, you can take over their ports, granting you complete access to the island. In addition to a new dock to repair your ships, you may also gain access to raw materials like iron, clay, sugar, and more that your islands were previously missing. By conquering new islands, you gain access to new resources and more building space.

Be Free Mate

Building

The other game mode is the free-roam sandbox mode. It essentially allows you to do whatever you please. You can build anything you want, wherever you like. But the game mode lacks an innate motivating factor to return to every once in a while. Essentially, the only thing that’ll keep you here is upgrades, which, at some point, get boring.

Wrapping Up

Ship sailing to dock - Republic of Pirates Review

Some of the key bindings have, oddly enough, been assigned to switching through ships. You don’t have key bindings for pausing the game or speeding up gameplay. 

If, say, a problem springs up in one of your production chains, you could make a small change in your setup to fix it. But you can’t quite know for sure if it’ll take effect. So, you choose to speed up gameplay. But to do so, you’ll need to actively drag your mouse to the respective menu, which is a needless implementation that only serves to frustrate you more. 

  

Visually, the Republic of Pirates gets the job done. It is a stunning oil painting-like world that displays vivid color and detail. The audio also stands out, with impeccable voice acting, perfectly fitting the mid-1600s era. It immerses you in the world setting alongside the story beats that, frankly, most city-builders don’t bother to incorporate. 

That said, the story campaign isn’t necessarily the most compelling gameplay element. That crown is scooped up by the efficient and relaxing city-building mechanics. Naval combat probably comes in third, with the systems only scratching the surface of what full-scale RTS games are capable of. 

Verdict

Galley island

Perhaps merging city-building and RTS genres was a bit of a reach. Yet with the price tag at currently $22.49, I can’t help feeling like it’s a huge steal. You get all that you can ask for in a city-builder: building, resource management, production efficiency, and more.

You also get a light naval combat system that, while leaning on the straightforward side, does run seamlessly. Moreover, Republic of Pirates throws in some fun pirate jingles for good measure and immersive ambience sound effects.  

Ultimately, it comes down to whether you have been craving for a pirate-themed city-builder. The Republic of Pirates will definitely scratch that itch for you. If not, you could check out the free Demo currently out on Steam. If you’re still on the fence about it, then probably keep an eye out for the upcoming Anno 117: Pax Romana.

Republic of Pirates Review (PC)

All Hands on Deck

Republic of Pirates is a city-builder and RTS game that incorporates Anno-style mechanics and naval battles. It throws in a story campaign, too, for good measure. The result is a thought-provoking romp across the seas, only relaxing and more straightforward.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.