Curse of the Sea Rats is a straightforward action/adventure platformer which allows for four-player co-op. The goal in this lovely looking game is to run, jump and attack your way through an interconnecting series of rooms. And you’ll search for treasure chests, abilities and keys that will keep you moving forward.
You find yourself on a ship full of convicts on their way to prison. But before they reach port, a pirate witch, named Flora Burn, uses a spell to transform everyone onboard into … rats. But these aren’t average vermin, these rats drink rum, swing swords and arrgh like any other pirate on the high seas.
Then Flora kidnaps the Admiral’s son as she slips off to hide with fellow convicts on a nearby island. The now rat-like admiral gives four remaining captives a chance at freedom if they simply save the boy and bring Flora back in chains.
Players have the option in single-player mode of choosing from those four possible swashbuckling rats, each of which has a slightly different play style. But all of the battlers have basic attack move sets—including block, parry and dodge counters—that are easy to jump into. Along the way, gamers gain new abilities that allow them to retrace their steps, leap to new areas, and discover solutions and keys that unlock blocked and locked pathways.
Curse of the Sea Rats’ combination of simple combat and simple platforming—along with generally easy to grasp character interactions and upgrades—make this a solid game for younger players. Even the level-ending boss battles aren’t overly difficult challenges.
The biggest drawbacks come down to the fact that controller lag can make things a little difficult to initially adjust to. And an occasionally missed key can bring play to a frustrating halt until you backtrack and find what you’ve missed.
The game is impressively pleasing to look at, with hand-drawn artwork that’s reminiscent of old classic games such as the arcade favorite, Dragon’s Lair. And even though the controls take some getting used to, the combat and platforming exploration is relatively easy.
Within the story, your character is also called upon to complete small quests that help others they meet. Besides rescuing a child hostage, we help get a special treat for a trapped ancient tortoise, for instance, and gather wool yarn for a scarf-knitting granny. Each quest grants helpful boosts.
There is quite a bit of combat here as we slash at everything from giant bugs, man-eating plants and skeleton warriors to a variety of ratty pirate foes with guns and swords. But there’s no blood or mess.
As you might expect from a pirate’s tale, we find ghosts, skeletons, huge spiders, monstrous critters and voodoo magic in the story mix. Spells are cast. A cursed character is magically brought back to life in the form of a levitating skull. And our character can use magic, thanks to a special amulet. This spiritual, energy-channeling item houses an ancient magical entity who promises to grant us power. In fact, we harvest the spiritual energy of defeated foes as we progress.
All of that mystical otherworldliness is kept cartoony and light, but it’s still very much a part of the gameplay.
We encounter some female characters who sport toon cleavage from their pirate garb. We also meet a character who appears to be gay or sexually androgynous. One sea-swabby character smokes a pipe. We come upon lots of different pirate rats who have been hitting the rum bottle. Some are obviously inebriated.
Curse of the Sea Rats is a very colorful platforming game filled with piratey sword-swinging and exploration. But like any pirate port-of-call, there are some darker corners in this E 10+ game that mom might frown over.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.