Pixel Piracy (PS4) Review


Ahoy there, mateys! Gather your swords and secure your booty, because we are setting sail into the Pixel Piracy seas with a bunch o’ scurvy rapscallions to shiver timbers and plunder, erm… strumpets? Ok, you get the point.

Game: Pixel Piracy
Developer: Quadro Delta
Publisher: 505 Games
Reviewed on:


Developed by the small team over at Quadro Delta, Pixel Piracy slips you into the boots of a pirate captain who must rise from the depths to become the most feared swashbuckler on the seven seas. Within the confines of the game’s 2D sidescrolling RPG-Adventure mechanics, you’ll be tasked with hiring your crew and building a ship, as well as micro managing their happiness and development in the time between plundering and exploring rival ships and random islands.

The game sets out to be an open-ended sandbox type experience by allowing to you plot your own course and develop your crew as you see fit. However, whilst you may be inclined to ignore it, the main goal here is to defeat the four legendary pirates and prove your own worth in the process. Pixel Piracy does well initially to bury you in the role by giving you plenty to do and aspire for, and does it all inside a quite pleasantly presented landscape, too.

At this point, retrospective looking games have almost enveloped their own intentions of creating charm factor and invoking wide-eyed nostalgia by their sheer quantity. In fact, the game-type is so common now, you might argue if they’re actually retrospective at all anymore. With that said, Pixel Piracy’s blend of old-timey graphics shouldn’t be dismissed. Colours are wonderfully vibrant, whether you’re on the ocean or on land, and the use of water reflections and funky cut-out character models look great – far from anything you’d have found in the 16-bit era, actually.

It’s not just the visuals that might trick you into false perception, either. The music and audio are by far the game’s greatest assets. The decision to include modern sound design instead of solely just bleeping chiptune tracks is a good one for the setting. Catchy jigs and joyful sea shanties manage to create a genuinely fun soundscape to play in and you’ll find yourself humming some of the tunes once you’ve stepped away because they’re all so buoyant and carefree.

The game world is built from decisions you make at the start of the game. You’ll answer questions that dictate your own and the land’s history, consequently shaping some content, game difficulty and your own gender. From there you’ll be able to create your pixely character from a number of equally pixely outfits, hairstyles and colours before being given a tutorial on basic commands and gameplay mechanics, which is brief and to the point. That’s not because you’re meant to discover things on your own, it’s more down to the gameplay itself being largely, brief and to the point.

Taverns act as your home from home, allowing you to hire new crew members (for a fee) and generally stock up in between more perilous ventures. Keeping your crew happy is important and stopping at these taverns lets you feed them, boost morale and patch up any wounds you might have acquired on the way. You’ll definitely want to look after them considering all the time you’ll spend moulding them into real pirates, each one full of abilities and skills to upgrade such as deck cleaning, swimming and combat related moves, all of which are acquired through fighting and using skill books that you’ll either find or purchase on your travels.

You’ll be able to plot courses from one randomised island to another and each one might have some treasure to find or enemies to fight, for example. Another interesting facet to gameplay was being able to build my ship, block by block, adding ladders and bigger hulls until it’s towering enough to hold all your crew and combat the higher level pirates you’ll find on the ocean. The ship battles allow you to board the opposing ship to either commandeer or plunder the resources once you’ve cleared it out. These resources can then be used to expand your own ship with all the cool tweaks.

Whilst all this is hugely entertaining for the first few hours, Pixel Pirates does begin to wane on fresh content after a short time. You’ll firstly narrow enemy types down to only two or three, then discover the same animals to kill on most islands, reaping similar rewards each time. Taverns, shops and scenery will be wildly familiar from one location to the next and because combat is automatic after selecting an enemy, there’s little joy in repeatedly fighting other than for gathering drops and experience.

In fact, Pixel Pirates’ combat mechanics can be hit and miss from the get-go. Attacking a target is as simple as clicking on it and watching your character engage. Same goes for the crew which can be divided up into different groups and ordered around accordingly. The main issue here is that there is very little feedback on what’s actually happening in the battle, and when there is it can be lost behind a flood of characters and on screen movement. Some of the time your crew will even simply refuse to follow basic commands, or start to follow them and then change their mind halfway through.

That’s only half of it when it comes to issues and bugs. Nearly all of the game’s quirks seem to manifest frustration, such as characters getting stuck in the scenery, horrible frame rates with busier screens, ladders that don’t want to be climbed, menus not showing up fully and janky ship building that prevents you from deleting sections. That’s just a few of the problems I had during my play time in game. I should probably mention too, that whilst I selected an option in the beginning that states harder enemies during night time, I’ve yet to actually see a night time. 


It’s a shame because as I started playing Pixel Piracy, my heart was telling me that I would inevitably love this game. The presentation and music is a real highlight that’s just marred by some overlooked gameplay issues and a number of bugs – ones that in many cases, are sadly game breaking ones. Hopefully patches will come and remedy the more pressing problems, and if/when they do, what is left will be a genuinely fun little title that is well worth picking up. Until then, I’d hold out for a while unless you’re absolutely desperate for some pirate-type action.


Began gaming on a hand-me-down Commodore Vic-20 back in the mid 80's and hasn't managed to shake the addiction yet. Genres of choice include anything that contains bullets and/or bouncy balls. Has been known to dabble in Destiny content.


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