Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchridion Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4
Licensed games often feel as though they were rushed out of the door and as such come off as cash grabs more than anything else. Cartoon Network games often fall in to this category even before you can give them a genre, it's a real shame given the quality of the properties that they own. Adventure Time in particular is an incredibly popular show that appeals to a wide range of ages and has something of a cult following online with people who are very much not kids despite the audience of the channel itself.
Unfortunately it is incredibly rare that there are games that are worth talking about when it comes to this show, often leaving fans of Finn, Jake, Marceline and co to be disappointed at the ones that are offered. Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion bucks some of the trends when it comes to this property by being a turn based RPG that tries to ascend beyond the realms of disappointing offerings that have come before it.
The end result of this is a little mixed, not a bad game, but it is also nothing special. That being said it is still an enjoyable little romp through the Land of Ooo that has some interesting ideas and at least shows some progression in the quality of games that could be offered in this world.
The battle system is perfectly competent, the mix of abilities of the party characters allows them to serve different roles and adds a layer of strategy as a result. The special abilities are broken in to two main categories, each of which have its own bar that gets charged as you fight. The first are the abilities which use a shared energy bar, these have different effects but and come in different classes, they might be elemental attacks, group wide attacks, or debuffs. Unfortunately the scaling of these abilities is completely off, the first version of an ability is usually just as good as the final version, it makes it feel a bit pointless as a result.
The second batch of attacks use a bar that is both unique to the character, and also has its own way of charging. BMO for example charges up their's by using items. These are your ultimate attacks that are best saved for big boss battles or as a last ditch attack in a desperate situation. These are useful enough most of the time but lack the level of scaling that your basic attacks have as you level up, as such they start to feel less effective as you progress through the game.
This is really the crux of the issue with the game, there are simply too many components that feel superfluous. It's just an incredible shame that despite some of the good ideas here, the game can feel monotonous; the promise of complexity simply isn't fulfilled.
The world itself has some fun ways to explore it; you travel mostly by boat, which allows you to pick up loot and fight a Kraken using the cannon too. While on land if you want to speed around then Jake can turn into a scooter and all the other characters hop on which allows you to cover ground pretty quickly. As you go around you can break bits of the scenery to either get some items or better yet, some gold.
Gold isn't just for buying items oh no, it is also essential in making your party stronger, though not in a way you would expect. You level up by fighting in a typical way, though whoever lands the final blow gets a little bit extra; which is a nice touch. When you level up your various stats get new upper limits, in order to actually get stronger you have to invest gold into each one to make your team an unstoppable force. You have to do the same with your special moves as well, it makes for a new take on levelling up that allows you to really grind for gold if you want to in order to make the game easier. Although providing you actually keep on top of things you shouldn't struggle too much.
To follow up on all of this it is time to point out the worst of the game, the bugs. You see there have been a fair few crashes in this review playthrough, at one point falling into the sea caused a full blown error and the game had to be restarted. Another instance required the game to be closed because the picture just stopped working, it is quite frustrating. When you add in the atrocious frame rate drops for no apparent reason you end up with a rather choppy affair, much like the sea you sail upon.
This iteration of Adventure Time is fun to play, grinding is rewarding, their are some truly wonderful sea shanties, and you get to meet lots of the popular characters. It is a shame that it is plagued by bugs and a combat system that gives you options that simply don't actually change anything. It is a hair's breadth away from being a solid game, even just fixing the performance issues would make this shoot up to 7/10. Unfortunately as it stands it is what it is. That being said, if you have a little one who is just getting in to gaming and loves Adventure Time, maybe this will keep them entertained.