Burly Men at Sea (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Adam Riley 04.04.2018 5

Review for Burly Men at Sea on Nintendo Switch

There have been many games jumping aboard the good ship Nintendo Switch in record time, and after just 12 or so months on the market, the hybrid platform has become home to many a title that would never have appeared on 3DS or Wii U. After the likes of Old Man's Journey and even Last Day of June, now there is Burly Men at Sea, a quirky take on the point-and-click genre. Does this seafaring tale sink or swim, though?

Burly Men at Sea could easily be mistaken as the sort of throwaway mobile title that a quick quid or so is spent on and then gets pretty much forgotten about after a very short while. After all, it does indeed end after about just about 20 minutes and all seems to be done and dusted without much in the way of satisfaction. Well, it is £8.99 on Nintendo Switch, which will cause great pain and massive disappointment when it all comes to a swift conclusion. Wait, though - not so fast, folks! The end is not quite what it seems, and those looking closer will soon find that Burly Men at Sea has hidden depths that really should be explored. The question is whether or not to spend that amount on Switch when last year's PS Vita / PlayStation 4 edition is £7.99, it retails currently for £7.19 on Steam and is…get this…a much more palatable £4.99 on the App Store and Google Play!

Screenshot for Burly Men at Sea on Nintendo Switch

Anyway, time to back up a bit before getting into why this most expensive version might be worth considering over the other iterations… This is all about three bearded fishermen venturing out of their comfort zone for the sake of new exploits in what is somewhat akin to a mix of visual novel and a traditional point-and-click adventure. The setting has been carefully crafted by husband and wife development duo, Brain&Brain (the same team that made the be-careful-how-you-say-it Doggins for mobile), with a Scandinavian feel to its overall theme, from the Nordic-esque characters themselves to the various real-life-inspired locations visited throughout.

The burly blokes may be three in number, but they are moved as one unit to avoid too much hassle - they are a threesome purely for aesthetic value. The game really does make great use of the Joy-Con (or Pro Controller) for regular style movement, or the Joy-Con can be split up and the underused gyro/pointer controls come into play, which is very pleasing to see after witnessing just how smooth they were World of Goo. As a final option, there is a perfect touch screen option that really is the ideal way to navigate this adventure.

Screenshot for Burly Men at Sea on Nintendo Switch

Rather than specifically pointing and clicking, though, it has more of a tap-and-drag feature, whereby players must grab the edge of the current field of vision and slide across to the left or right far enough to encourage the entourage to start shuffling their way in that direction. Tap on non-playable characters to have a bit of a chat, interact with surroundings to get the most out of the world around, and then head off on the first of several short journeys. It has been developed around the mobile format, first and foremost, and this fits the Switch's portable mode dynamic like a snug glove. Great efforts have been put in to ensure this controls are well as possible in all variations to appeal to all audiences.

Each time the adventure begins, the titular burly men head off to sea in their rickety sailboat, before being swallowed by a large whale. They do not die, though, instead being faced with a crossroads - the first of several - eventually ending back ashore, ready to check their map and see what progress was made, and what permutations of the choices are available for the next escapade. Yes, next one, since that initial 20 minutes mentioned earlier is not actually the be all and end all of Brain&Brain's creation. Instead, each and every time, there are new conversation threads to be read and extra story elements being unveiled whenever alternate decisions are made. Escape the whale quickly, for instance, or perhaps wait for a natural exit opportunity to rear its head, and if opting to escape, should the men don barrels as floatation attire or risk going forth without them, changing the trajectory of their exit from the whale's blow hole…and so on.

Screenshot for Burly Men at Sea on Nintendo Switch

It is an extremely quaint experience overall, looking and sounding the part, with the minimalism of the visuals working in its favour, offering plenty of charm, without weighing things down with too much intricate detail. Plied Sound's takes a similar direction, with it using a soft selection of instruments mixed with human-voiced sound effects to augment the allure, matching the general atmosphere of Burly Men at Sea flawlessly.

Okay, so back to that question of whether or not it is worth paying almost double the price of the mobile version for this on Switch. Well, sadly, even at the mobile price it is a big ask, since there is a certain something preventing it from reaching that highly satisfying feeling needed to help lift it above other genre examples currently pouring onto any format nowadays, let alone Nintendo Switch. It is undoubtedly a lovely little effort, and a lovingly crafted project, and, sure, there are digital or physical books to purchase to learn more about the story, but… Well, it needed more substance, and having to make external purchases is not a good technique to employ. Extra content should be right there in the actual game that was purchased in the first place, whether it is at the lower mobile price, or the now inappropriately high price on Switch.

Screenshot for Burly Men at Sea on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Burly Men at Sea is a very quaint and surprisingly enjoyable twist on the point-and-click genre, with lovely visuals, an impressive-and-quirky soundtrack, and more replayability than first thought. However, saying that, the whole experience can be breezed through in an hour or two, and it lacks enough real meat to be it a truly satisfying dish, especially given this is the highest priced version on the market right now. In the end, it is undoubtedly a pleasant experience, but one that will be forgotten quite quickly upon completion, unless extremely motivated to spend more money on the digital or physical storybooks offered post-game via a web-link. It is definitely worth trying, but just be mindful of the price and check your expectations before diving in.

Developer

Brain&Brain

Publisher

Plug In Digital

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Just played through this a couple weeks back on the Vita. Definitely recommend but yeah, I'd wait for a sale. Most of the endings are really good, though there's one that feels weird and unnatural to get. Overall though, definitely an enjoyable couple of hours.

I was stunned when it first finished...then pleasantly surprised when I realised I could take different routes to get more out of it. Then it became a test to figure out where I could potentially change outcomes... Stay awake when listening to the stories? Somehow obtain the musical instrument from the cave and let the kid at the beginning use it? Befriend the rocky creature?

Sadly, whilst enjoyable, there were indeed many ideas or loose ends that left me disappointed. It clearly has so much potential to be expanded upon.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Yeah they did a good job setting up the routes to be easy enough to figure out but thorough enough to make pretty drastic changes. I know I got every endings and every trophy in like 3 hours, and that was with a break in the middle, so it isn't a long experience overall. I was unaware of additional reading material on it though, that's pretty sweet (but like you said, would have been cooler in the base game).

You know how each book has a code on it? The guy in the shop at the end tells you a web address to check out and you can input the code there to either buy an ebook or actual physical copy. Interesting idea!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

o O thats pretty neat! I noticed the code but I missed where he said that, thats nifty information.

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