Code provided with many thanks to Press Engine.
Build and Set Sail
Sea of Craft is a sandbox building game where you get to build your own ship and sail the seas. The game has hit Early Access, and we have been kindly provided with a key to share some early impressions. If you are looking for a title that provides huge creative flexibility with all sorts of physics to play about with, then add this to the wish list pronto.
Will it Float?
The biggest draw to Sea of Craft is the ability to craft your own ship, with an enormous amount of customisation and options. So much so it can be a bit overwhelming if you just throw yourself in the deep end with it. By following the initial tutorial of the game, you should be fine. The game goes through mechanics like buoyancy, so your ship doesn’t sink with the weight of weapons and items. Often I was a little overconfident with my work and would watch my monstrosity just sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Advice is also provided on propellers, including how to have the best control of the ship. It is a good starting point, but you’ll soon find there is much more to learn as you progress. If you still find things a bit much, you can import some pre-made ships and play with those. I used these as an initial template then sort of reverse-engineered them to create something myself. It’s not just ships you make either. You can also construct vehicles and even aircraft if you’re very smart.
Challenge and Experiment
Once you have created your pirate ship style masterpiece, or mess in my case, you then test it in the water with some challenge levels. These include racing your ship to a checkpoint, shooting targets, trying your hand at some physics-based puzzles and engaging in ship battles, which for me was the biggest highlight. Each challenge presents as a puzzle introducing a new ship part, such as grabbing hooks or pistons. There is no one way to solve a problem. Experimenting and getting creative gives a little incentive to retry missions again. At the end of each challenge you get the familiar three-star rating with each being awarded by completing a specific challenge.
By completing a challenge, you unlock more ship parts to tweak your ship. You can also see how your score compares with the rest of the community. It’s a nice dribble of content as you work your way towards the bigger challenges. By completing all of the star challenges, you can use your rewards to buy more cosmetics for your ship. The game also offers a PVP mode to let you duke your ship out with other players around the world. Additionally, there is an adventure mode where you can just take your ship out on a quest, hunting enemy ships and taking on missions. Both these modes are currently in the test phase.
Graphics initially give off the pirate vibe with the wooden decks and initial templates. But it looks like with time you can create whatever your imagination can come up with. Make giant warships of metal or maybe even create a whale that floats above the waves. The soundtrack feels surprisingly epic for a creative game. I felt like I was setting sail on a triumphant adventure for treasure and plunder. Even though, for me, it was mostly a quiet Sunday afternoon sail.
The water effects are the stand out feature to the graphics. Water splishes and splashes over your ship. The bobbing of the waves seems so convincing it might just give you a bit of sea sickness.
An interesting feature is the ability to create your ship models and share them with the rest of the ship building community. This works great for experienced players who easily get stuck into the many customisations options available. But if you are a total novice, being able to import other players’ work really helps you get stuck into the experience. The developers are keen to create a welcoming and friendly community that is available to all gamers.
I was pretty impressed with Sea of Craft. Even in its early build state there is a awful lot of content to sink your teeth into here, with plenty more to come in the future. As someone working a regular job and getting accustomed to fatherhood for the first time, I didn’t find the ship customization pick up and play. But if you have the time to sink hours into this, I can imagine you’ll be able to create some awesome projects. For me the main appeal was the ship battles. Roaming the seas and hunting enemies’ ships was pretty fun. PVP is a option to but knowing my skill levels, I’ll just embarrass myself. I’m happy to stick to AI opponents for now.
The game is, of course, a work in progress but it appears the developers are very keen to listen to their community in order to steer the game on the right path. If you do take the plunge, I highly recommend joining the developers’ discord to share your feedback.
Sea of Craft is available in Early Access now. If you want to support a work in progress and get in touch with what looks like a more friendly pirate community, check this out.