App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Burly Men at Sea is an extremely visually pleasing game about three burly men and their adventures they go on after finding a mysterious map. As you go throughout the adventure, you'll be sure to meet a lot of charming folklore-ish characters, but the journey itself unfortunately runs out of steam a little too quickly.
As a game, Burly Men at Sea generally involves you swiping and holding in a direction to move the burly sailors about or tapping on objects to interact with them. For the most part, there isn't really much more to it than that. There's some really light puzzle-solving elements of these interactions, but most of the game is based around where you decide to send the men on their adventure.
To prevent this simple style of gameplay from going stale, Burly Men at Sea makes clever use of its art design and have its framing play with your perspective and inform how you can interact with the world. For instance, Burly Men at Sea likes to use iris shot-style framing around the action, which in some instances is manipulated into appearing like a sea monster's mouth or an actual iris that blinks in reaction to your decisions.
Much of the fun to be had in Burly Men at Sea is in discovering its story, but it's important to note that this game's narrative isn't what it appears to be at first blush. Without giving too much away, Burly Men at Sea uses a The Stanley Parable-like approach to its plot.
When you first discover exactly what is going on in Burly Men at Sea, it feels really exciting and novel, but from there things go downhill pretty quickly.
The unfortunate thing about Burly Men at Sea is that it doesn't take very long at all to get to the twist in the game, and what's left from there is quite repetitive. Also, once you fully complete the game, there is very little in terms of payoff for your experience.
A lot of this has to do with how limiting Burly Men at Sea is in its design. As much as the game is about making decisions, there aren't as many choices at your disposal as you might initially think, and the consequences of these decisions might slightly alter your immediate next step in the story, but otherwise doesn't really affect the overall outcome of the game.
The bottom line
Burly Men at Sea is a totally beautiful but flawed game. Although it starts with a bang and has a beautiful moment of discovery in it, you'll find that there's little to look forward to soon after you've started it.