GamingReview: Trash Sailors

Review: Trash Sailors

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Trash Sailors is one of those games with a really brave name. It’s the sort of name that REQUIRES the game to be at least good. If it isn’t, the jokes, remarks and headlines available to smarmy game journalists like myself will write themselves. Take Quantum Break, a game that was ambitious, star-studded and (eventually) quite fun. Alas, it launched hideously broken and had “Break” in the name so every gaming news outlet could knock off at 2pm after bashing out the ‘hilarious’ articles on that turn of events. So let’s see how easy my job is today and whether Trash Sailors is, well, trash.

Trash Sailors pitches itself as a sailing ‘simulator’ for the most generous definition of the world simulator that I’ve seen since Surgeon Simulator called a heart transplant successful if the new heart was tossed in the general vicinity of an empty chest cavity. The aim of the game is to sail your ship from the start of a course to the end without sinking – gaining points for avoiding damage, completing the course quickly and collecting trash. 

Various posts around a small rickety raft can be manned by yourself and up to 3 friends through online co-op or, if you don’t have any friends, 1 AI-controlled robot. Everything on the boat requires trash to function so you’ll need people fishing trash out of the water, compacting it into usable materials, fixing the raft with those materials and putting them into the engine as fuel. You’ll also need someone steering and people prepared for various events, such as fixing the lights, fighting creatures and fishing maps out of the water. Having a series of posts that all have different functions that need to be performed with significant time pressure feels a lot like Sea of Thieves. With 4 competent people, you can go for a leisurely sail with the craft handling like a well-oiled machine, prepared for anything the world can throw at you. With 1 incompetent person, you can handle the craft about as well as that time Chris Hemsworth crashed the USS Kelvin into the Narada while piloting it solo in Star Trek (2009).

The main thing going for Trash Sailors is its appearance. I mean, look at the screenshots dotted around this page, it’s like the Mona Lisa had a baby with the Scream. I mean the art style of those pieces, the actual progeny of that union would be horrifying beyond compare, like a melting eyebrow-less witch-queen. All the art for the game is hand-drawn by some very talented people and every iota of time and effort spent is visible on the screen. Everything is so consistent that it’s like an artist’s sketchbook has come to life with almost visible pencil strokes and blending so smooth that it must have been achieved by a layer of Clearasil being applied after the initial design. 

Unfortunately, the gameplay sometimes makes me wonder if the fantastic drawings that make up the game’s assets should have been left in the sketchbook. For full disclosure, I have only played the game in the single-player mode with the AI assistant and I fully accept that isn’t the optimum way of playing it. You would have a lot more fun in multiplayer, but the game ships with a single-player mode so that’s what I’m reviewing.

As a single-player game, there is just a bit too much going on to keep track of. If you leave the raft without any steering you WILL crash into something so you always need to be steering. This can either be done by manually steering by yourself and leaving the robot to the other duties (like randomly fishing out trash) and then running off the wheel during a clear bit of water to compact that trash and deal with other problems. This is what I did. Alternatively, you can put the robot on steering and do everything else yourself. However, when the robot is on steering duty it doesn’t actually steer, it just allows you to steer remotely while doing other tasks which, for me personally is a bit too much to think about. It’s chaos. And I don’t mean fun Overcooked style “chaos but everything is ostensibly fine”. I mean a “there is literally no way of doing this well” sort of chaos.

As a multiplayer game, I’m sure there is a lot to recommend Trash Sailors to the same cohort of gamers that enjoy some Sea of Thieves (although, I do think it might be a bit too easy with 4 people doing what is essentially 4 jobs). But, as a single-player game there is not a lot to recommend it. Absolutely beautiful but chaotic, difficult and almost unfair, I didn’t have a lot of fun with Trash Sailors beyond the first few levels. To make an easy play on words, Trash Sailors is far from trash but you might want to sail on by this particular ‘simulator’ as a solo player.

SUMMARY

+ Fabulous hand-drawn art style
+ Fully focused on multiplayer
- Way too much going on for single-player

(Reviewed on PC (Steam))
Charles Ombler
Charles Ombler
Hey! I'm Charles. I play games and then I write about them, like some kind of nerd. I can usually be found in my pyjamas with a cup of Earl Grey or over on Twitter: @CharlesOmbler

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Review: Trash Sailors+ Fabulous hand-drawn art style </br> + Fully focused on multiplayer </br> - Way too much going on for single-player </br> </br> (Reviewed on PC (Steam))