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Curse of the Sea Rats hands on preview – a furry metroidvania

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Metroidvanias have become a very common genre in the indie gaming sphere, so it takes quite the bit to really stand out in this saturated market. So the question we’re here to answer is: does Curse of the Sea Rats float to the top? Or is this just another shipwreck?

Right away the game shows off some impressive visuals with its hand drawn artwork in both gameplay and cutscenes. To summarize the game’s plot: a ship carrying prisoners bound for Great Britain finds itself getting wrecked when a pirate unleashes a curse on everyone, turning them into rats.

To say Curse of the Sea Rats’ story is a bit overboard would be an understatement. Everyone was human in the beginning, not that we see what most of them used to look like, but have now turned into tiny rats.

It’s a bit odd how no one seems to be freaking out over this matter and how they surprisingly fit into their characters now that they’re animals. Strange plot holes aside, the premise is simple: the pirate witch Flora Burn has kidnapped the captain’s son.

So in exchange for rescuing his boy, the captain promises your cast of characters their freedom if they are able to succeed. The only other alternatives are to stay stuck as rats, or if somehow they’re able to return to Britain, certain execution. The choice is rather easy for our “heroes”.

Here’s where we get into the game proper and one of the more unique features for Curse of the Sea Rats. There are 4 playable characters whom take on diverse appearances with unique traits. You do get a different experience depending on who you choose to assume the role as.

It should be noted that this feature also extends the game to having local co-op, where you and up to 3 friends can team up and select each character on your journey after Flora Burn. However, this preview was done only in single player.

Curse of the Sea Rats plays exactly how you’d expect when you hear the word metroidvania. It’s a 2D sidescroller where you explore a large map with different biomes. During our short demo, certain areas are inaccessible until you gain a new ability, such as the classic double jump.

While the game promotes mastery of all the characters, they don’t play any different in terms of exploration. Though perhaps this may make sense as it is a co-op based game, so having only one person being able to reach certain areas would hurt the flow of the game. Still, it might’ve been nice to see some unique character abilities in terms of unlocking certain very optional paths.

Getting into Curse of the Sea Rats’ combat, it also plays like how you’d expect of a metroidvania. You have standard strikes mix with variances based on jumping or crouching. Then there’s also a special “magic” skill each character has. For example, the American rat I played as was able to shoot a gun.

While it played as I expected, it was a bit stiff at some points where it was surprisingly easy to run into an enemy while trying to get close to deal damage, resulting in me incurring a bit of damage.

Curse of the Sea Rats just needs a tiny bit of refinement in the game’s movement and a little bit of better tells to pull off the game’s blocking/parry system to be truly great.

Curse of the Sea Rats is a very by-the-numbers game. It plays just as you’d expect a game would in this genre and mostly doesn’t do much more, at least if you’re playing alone. Multiplayer would certainly add a wrinkle of fun and excitement if you’ve got friends alongside you for local co-op. Plus, the multiple different characters with unique skill trees does give it some replayability.

Curse of the Sea Rats will be launching sometime in early 2023 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Windows PC (via Steam).

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Got into gaming thanks to a nice old lady who lived across the street. Enjoy most genres of games.