We set the sails in Her Majesty's Ship and take care of the crew, pirates and everything else there is to do on the oceans. That sounds like a rock solid game concept that can work. In our review of the game for Nintendo Switch, you can find out whether we are having fun with Her Majesty's Ship from Every Single Soldier or whether the indie game is drowning in silence.
Have you ever wanted to command a military naval ship in the age of sailing? Pretending to lead the HMS Victory against the French and Spanish in the Battle of Trafalgar? Well, with Her Majesty's Ship, you have a chance to set sail in a simple but difficult game to master.
A game that is not technically demanding but full of charm
Her Majesty's Ship won't win an award for photorealism, but the slightly caricature, low-poly look suits the game a lot better than expected. Every room on the ship (right down to individual pieces of furniture) is unique, which shows great attention to detail. If you then also see your team bustling around you can see the charm of the game.
It's a shame that the look you see at the beginning of the game is the same as you will see throughout the game, but it is by no means a spoilsport. It would have been nice to see differences in the rooms and layouts on different ships though, or the ability to upgrade rooms on the same ship.
The sound effects are varied, crisp and feel suitable for every action. This is especially true during combat, when you can practically feel the roar of cannon fire (from both sides) and the sound of wood hitting the ship's hull when your ship is damaged.
The music is relatively inconspicuous and yet nice to listen to. It can be heard in the background and gets louder during certain scenes (like victory or defeat), but the music never overwhelms the sound effects. In our opinion, this was a good decision. So the focus of the background noise was on the ship and the crew, which brought more intensity to the whole story.
Never upset the Dutch
The idea behind the game is that you fight for one of four nations - England, France, Portugal or Spain - and avoid annoying the Dutch and fending off pirates - but no, you can't be a pirate yourself. What if the Dutch mark you as an enemy? Well, it's very simple: They send The Flying Dutchman after you. Which, in the end, is a pretty bad thing.
The legendary Kahn is an almost invincible ship that focuses exclusively on sinking your ship. Especially at the beginning of the game you shouldn't mess with the Dutchman, otherwise the Game Over Screen will appear very quickly. Unfortunately, we ourselves never had the opportunity to see the Dutchman because a bug made that completely impossible.
During the game you rise in rank, possibly from captain to admiral of the fleet, which also gives you access to better ships. This in turn makes it possible to hire more sailors, provide more officers and transport more cargo. It all sounds boring at first, but we believe it is very important to survive on the sea.
The HMS needs more sailors
More sailors mean that you can have the crew take more actions at once. In the beginning, you can't even man every cannon during combat, let alone expect the crew to unfold the sails, wash the deck, treat an injured crew member, and repair the hull all at once. That might sound like a lot, but you have to get it all done as quickly as possible. In addition, sailors can be promoted to officers or trained to become marines, the latter being essential for capturing outposts or boarding enemy ships.
Officers can eventually be promoted to the rank of commander and given their own ship to command. You and your crew can sail alongside you or be sent off on separate missions. How many additional ships join your squadron depends on the rank of the character.
Probably the most important reason to move and get better ships is to have more cargo space. All you always carry with you is food, rum, and gunpowder. Bigger servings of food mean higher morale. Rum is a quick pick-me-up for sailors, and while not as necessary as food, it is an important requirement for some mandatory celebrations. After all, you can't fire cannons without gunpowder, and that makes it impossible to attack enemy ships or defend yourself.
Gold and morals - the two crutches of the sea
Gold is the currency of the day and you will need a lot of it. Sometimes groceries, rum, and gunpowder can be found on islands or in shipwrecks, but in most cases you'll need to dock and purchase an outpost. You will also need gold to hire new seafarers and invest money in promotions.
Morality is the hardest thing to achieve on Her Majesty's Ship. As long as you have not doubled your crew's rations or are docked, morale will drop continuously at a variable rate depending on what orders you give the crew. If morale drops to zero, the crew will mutiny, resulting in the loss of the ship and a massive loss of promotion points.
The time of day is another complication as your crew will want to sleep at night. No ship can operate effectively when everyone is asleep, causing the crew to lose morale at an accelerated rate at night. Time never stops either, which we didn't particularly like. The developer is reportedly looking for a "tactical break," but there's no indication of when that might happen, so don't assume it will be added later.
Wait a minute ... where is the story?
There is none. Seriously, the story is, "Do this and that, your nation to win". It wouldn't be bad if there was more to do on Her Majesty's Ship. By the time you've reached the Rear Admiral (two classes above the starting captain's rank), you've probably seen and done everything there is to see and do in this game. During the game you will receive hints in the form of different colored flags on the aft mast, which will give you rewards after completing the game. Most of these tasks are easy to complete, such as whipping a stubborn sailor, scrubbing the deck, or trial firing one of the cannons. Half the time, we felt like we were doing nothing but diligent work instead of actually playing a game.
When you get a job from the Admiralty, you have no option to ignore it. Either you accept it, or a task will be chosen for you anyway. These tasks are often complex and time consuming, but if you complete the task successfully, the reward is far greater than any other "normal" task. Conversely, if you fail the task - meaning you run out of time to complete the task - there is a dramatic drop in morale and a reduction in promotion points. Sometimes you can even be demoted because of it.
Number of players: 1
Age: from 12 (USK)
Long-term motivation: low
Publisher: Wasteland Interactive
Developer: Every Single Soldier
Year of publication: 2020
platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Cost: 9,99 Euro
Her Majesty's Ship is entertaining and amusing, but offers very little content. Although it initially appeared as a management / simulation / exploration game, it shares more in common with the clicker genre, where gameplay is simplified so that you hit hotspots as quickly as possible. Her Majesty's Ship lacks the realism and complexity of a simulation, the open world character of an exploration game, and management is limited to the decision “who or what should I click? Add in the total lack of a story and you have a game that seems dead in the water for everyone but those desperately looking for some game from the Age of Sailing.
Even then, people with historical and military knowledge from this period might avoid the Her Majesty's Ship because of its many blatant historical inaccuracies and the oversimplification of the ship's commands. To make matters worse, Her Majesty's Ship is a bug festival.
The first time we played through the tutorial, the game failed loading an event and we couldn't continue. It turned out that this error was quite common and had happened to other people as well. The developer supposedly fixed it, but it happened to us after the developer claimed it was fixed. Her Majesty's Ship isn't a bad game in theory, but it takes a lot of work in practice. Unfortunately, the lackluster combination of no story, little interaction other than quick clicks, bugs, and almost no replayability hurts what could otherwise be a great game for fans of the era and naval warfare.