Pirates Outlaws (PC) Review

By Athanasios 07.05.2020

Review for Pirates Outlaws on PC

Similar to ports of Arcade games, and maybe even more so, mobile ports were built for platforms that follow their own "rules" when it comes to what is expected from a video game. Balance and depth are usually non-existent, whereas a forced kind of replayability, and addictive, yet equally repetitive gameplay is the norm. Deck-building roguelike, Pirate Outlaws, while far from the shovelware one can easily find in the realm of Android and iOS systems, is definitely one such example, as it is quite enjoyable, yet also carries the flaws of its mobile beginnings.

Pirates Outlaws begins. You are given a Hero character, and are thrown into the seas to fight your way towards the big cheese of the area. This brief tutorial section will explain everything one needs to know. Thankfully, it's all easy to grasp. There's a hand of cards in the bottom, with each card being an ability; offensive, defensive, melee or ranged, ammo reloads, armour boosts, buffs, debuffs, and so on. As mentioned earlier, nothing too complex. Even better, fighting is extremely fast - exactly as it should. Just drag and drop the card from the bottom to the battlefield, and that's it.

Then there's the board-game like exploration bit. After each battle, players can move their ship one step closer to the boss that's the main target; another simple part, which revolves around handling your limited action points, choosing the path you prefer, buying and selling stuff from merchants, and engaging in some randomised events that may, or may not help you on your quest. Upon reaching and killing the head honcho, you are given the freedom to taste the actual, unrelenting experience that is Pirates Outlaws. This won't go easy on you. Get ready for plenty, plenty of deaths.

Screenshot for Pirates Outlaws on PC

Roguelikes are built like that, of course. Part of the experience is trying to go further away than before, even if that 'further away' is just a few inches more. There are two kinds of rewards here. The first is the usual, and more tangible one. The more one plays, the more cards unlock, therefore players are given more "toys" to have fun with. The second one is how they'll get better and better at using said toys, by understanding when to use what, which cards should be kept, and which should be thrown away, when to use the service of a merchant, and when to take risks in the randomised events.

…It's important, however, to note that, even after unlocking cards, finding them in-game is 100% luck-based, therefore, don't expect creating a custom loadout that suits your needs. This will initially feel annoying, even infuriating to many. That's not the problem, however. That's not even how pretty much everything is depended on luck. There's a certain magic into trying to work with whatever loot was randomly thrown to you, working out strategies on the fly. Here's the thing, though. In order for such a concept to work correctly, the balance must be top-notch. It isn't.

Screenshot for Pirates Outlaws on PC

The more one plays, the easier it is too see that it's almost impossible to win with tactics alone. In fact, about eight hours in, and it becomes painfully obvious that Pirate Outlaws is basically a game of chance. Similar to paying a visit to a Casino, a better strategist will last longer, but in the end, all it takes is an unlucky dice roll, and that's it. Long story short, you can keep trying to get better here, but in the end, it's all about being fortunate enough to build the right kind of deck. When it comes to boss encounters, it's also important to get the best possible hand, as well!

…And as mentioned earlier, the balance is all over the place. Take a look at the Sword Master hero class, who is all about evasion. Her 'Dodge' card has a 50% chance of working, when something closer to 60-70 would be much better. In practice that means that you are better off throwing 'Dodge' away, and focusing on creating a nice set of high-DPS moves, and life-leeching skills… which are also far from helpful, as with these one can heal about 10 points per turn, whereas a group of enemies, or a single boss, can eat more than 15 whenever they get their chance.

Screenshot for Pirates Outlaws on PC

Then there's also the problem of how conditions from buffs and debuffs work. Suppose for a second that the aforementioned 'Dodge' had, not a 60, or 70 percent rate of success, but a perfect, 100% one. Well, good luck keeping that! Conditions overwrite each other, therefore, it's easy to destroy your lucky, and well thought-out boost, just having an enemy throwing one of his own conditions at you. These aren't exactly rare either. In Pirate Outlaws the sky rains buffs and debuffs - and god forbid meeting the wrong kind of boss for your character, and watching these fail to even work.

Now, despite all the negativity, this can be lots of fun, and surprisingly addicting. As mentioned before, it's easy to grasp, and has a very quick pace. There are also tons of unlockables, ranging from cards and other types of items, to more hero types (insanely varied these guys and gals), plus additional levels to explore, and enemies to fight with. The game's minimalistic art style is great as well. Unfortunately, apart from being unbalanced, and almost wholly depended on luck, the amount of content on offer is mostly artificial, with an unlock rate that only those who like - heavy - grinding will appreciate.

Screenshot for Pirates Outlaws on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


50+ hours of addicting, fun, fast, and easy-to-understand gameplay awaits fans of roguelikes in Pirates Outlaws - plus some simple, yet beautiful, and varied visuals, and hundreds of unlockables (and achievements, for those who care about those). The thing is that the whole thing is a roll-of-the-dice kind of deal, not a turn-based strategy that's mainly about skill. Luck always played a big role in the genre, sure, but here it probably plays the only role. Again, this is fun… but it takes a very specific kind of mind-set to enjoy.


Fabled Game


Fabled Game





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   


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