App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Tempest: Pirate Action RPG is a game that allows you to live out a career as a pirate on the open seas. You can take your ship anywhere, and do just about anything, provided you have the supplies and combat prowess to do so. As much fun as this sounds in theory, Tempest actually falls short of being a great game because of its lack of structure and confusing menus.
Victory at sea
When you first boot up Tempest, you're thrown straight into a combat tutorial where you learn the ropes of steering, aiming, and firing at other ships. It's likely that Tempest throws you into this action so early because it's the most impressive and flashy-looking part of the game. From here though, you're sort of thrown into the rest of the experience and left to figure just about everything else out for yourself.
Thankfully, a lot of the other stuff you do in Tempest is mostly straightforward. When not in combat, you can sail from port to port via an overworld map, trade supplies, hire crew, take on missions, and upgrade your ship. None of these things really advance much of a story of any kind. It seems like everything in the game is geared toward putting you into a combat scenario with other ships.
All hands on deck
Tempest's combat largely revolves around you strategically moving your ship to hit your opponents with cannons while also trying to stay out of of the line of fire yourself. Steering your ship is a simple enough thing to do. The game provides some on-screen arrow buttons on the side of the screen to turn your ship.
Beyond movement though, Tempest asks players to make tactical considerations with the kinds of cannonballs they'd like to use or whether or not they'd like to board or ram other ships. The high seas in Tempest can be filled with more than enemy ships as well. Island fortresses and sea monsters also occasionally get added to the combat mix, which keeps things interesting.
As neat as Tempest can seem at first, the experience kind of falls apart due to a general lack of direction. The game provides quests, but all of them are pretty typical fetch quests or combat missions that don't really tell any interesting stories. On top of this, all of the non-combat stuff you do seems to focus around maintenance of your ship so that you can still perform well in combat, rather than something that is particularly engaging on its own.
It also doesn't help that Tempest has some pretty confusing menus and gameplay systems that aren't explained well. Things like boarding other ships, selling items, managing crew morale, and upgrading your ship are important aspects of Tempest's gameplay, but they take so long to find or understand that you might have already died repeatedly or otherwise lost a bunch of money by the time you figure them out.
The bottom line
Sailing the high seas should feel like an adventure, but in Tempest, it just feels like a battlefield. While the game does have some surprisingly nuanced naval combat, it otherwise feels kind of empty and slapdash. If you just want to fire cannons at other boats, this might just be right up you're alley. Otherwise, I'd recommend you check out the recently released Sunless Sea for a more robust seafaring experience.