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I bought this game for one very simple reason: I love One Piece. I love the characters. I love the world. And I love the story.
I was going to give a little description about what One Piece actually is, but It’s sort of irrelevant. If you don’t know what One Piece is, you probably won’t buy this game. If you have a passing knowledge of One Piece… I can’t really recommend this game to you. If you love One Piece… Well, I’m about to let you know if this game is really worth it.
One Piece Film: Prison Island
One Piece: World Seeker is basically one of the One Piece films, only it’s a game. This means that it is definitely not canon. Aside from the fact that it clearly takes place after the “Whole Cake Island” arc, there is no logical place it could fit into the actual story of the show. This is much like the Film Z and Film Gold that take place post-timeskip. So, you can essentially enjoy some One Piece goodness without having to think about it too hard.
World Seeker takes place on Prison Island (formerly Jewel Island), which has been taken over by the World Government and is controlled by the Marines. Rumors of a legendary treasure being held on the island have circulated throughout the world, and the Straw Hat Pirates are hell-bent on getting it for themselves.
Unfortunately, so is every other pirate crew on the Grand Line.
The main focus of the story is actually on the struggle of the Islanders themselves, who live under the thumb of the Marines and in fear of the ever-increasing number of pirates.
Jeanne, the young woman who leads the island’s Anti-Navy faction, and her brother Issac, the warden of Prison Island, are the only two characters worth caring about. Every other original character is forgettable and basically not worth your time. So much so that, other than the actual One Piece Characters, I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the other characters in the game.
Except maybe Fred… He came up a couple of times.
Anyway, Jeanne wants the Pro-Navy and Anti-Navy factions to work together, but tensions are reaching a boiling point. This is when she meets Monkey D. Luffy and the game starts.
A Pirate’s Life
Playing as Luffy is definitely the highlight of this game. I want to say that it was pure joy, but that would be an embellishment. It was, however, incredibly fun. Using the power of Luffy’s Gomu-Gomu No Mi was immensely satisfying for the majority of the game. Sure, the combat was a little clunky… and sometimes irritatingly repetitive, and the means of locomotion was hackneyed at best, but…
Unfortunately, that’s really the summary of the gameplay. Without the One Piece name and characters, this would have been an abysmal game.
It’s the kind of gameplay that would have been celebrated at the end of the PS2 era, and maybe the beginning of the PS3, but seeing it today is really kind of laughable. It reminds me of playing the original Infamous game, but with clunkier mechanics.
I will say that the animations for the special attacks and the general feeling of the combat was spot on. Using Luffy’s Elephant Gatling was amazing every time. However, once you were out of combat the gameplay was… lacking in every aspect of the word.
A Deserted Island
Prison Island seems interesting as long as you don’t look at anything too closely. The environments are bright and shiny, but ultimately, they lack the polish of games of the current generation. This manifests itself in some glaringly obvious ways.
- The islanders rarely move from their designated positions, and hardly speak unless spoken to
- There are only about twelve character models used throughout the island, and they are only differentiated by slight wardrobe changes
- Items you find are just blue shiny things that dot the landscape, instead of looking like part of the terrain
- The few towns on the island are woefully underpopulated with only a few people to the dozens and dozens of houses
- Everything feels a little sterile, or barren, as the majority of the island is mostly trees with very little undergrowth
- While everything generally matches the aesthetic set up by the show, it looks and feels off when seen in 3D
Any single one of these would have been hard to swallow, but having them all together makes for an experience that is devoid of the wonder that today’s open world games generally instill in me.
A Cavalcade of Cameos
The whole game seems like it was basically a vehicle for One Piece cameos. While it was entertaining near the beginning of the game, once you run into basically every single character from the show, it starts to feel a little contrived. I mean running into literally every known Admiral on a single island is not only insane, but should have resulted in some of the greatest fights in One Piece history.
What makes these Cameos so frustrating is that they are very, very, very, VERY clearly cameos. Most of them show up, attack you, and then… they just leave… for almost no reason. These are some of the most powerful people in the entirety of the show, and they just give up because they got a phone call. What’s worse is they always leave with a “I’ll leave you alone for now, but next time… just you wait”.
After the third time I was like…
The hardest part about playing World Seeker, to me, was the lack of stakes.
I was often told what the stakes were, but I never actually got to see them.
Jeanne would explain to Luffy that the Island was in turmoil, but when I went to each town, everyone was still just kind of hanging out, telling me the things they always told me. In fact, most of them were still smiling ear to ear in true One Piece fashion. I have to say that it really put a damper on the main story beats.
Toward the end of the game, when the excitement was supposed to be ramping up, it really just felt like more of the same. I never once felt like things were getting dire. I really, really, wanted to feel like the whole island was about to be destroyed, but I never got that feeling.
Of course, the show spoiled me for this particular aspect. I mean, the entire Island of Dressrosa, in the show’s canon, was completely destroyed except for a few city blocks near the palace. So, having someone explain to me that things are getting bad without actually seeing it isn’t exactly thrilling.
Not Really that WANTED
Overall, One Piece: World Seeker was completely underwhelming. I really wanted to like it because it’s One Piece, but I just couldn’t do it. The majority of the game was terrible side quest after terrible side quest that amounted to little more than “Go to this place and fight some guys.”
I will say that the last twenty minutes of the game were spectacular. The climactic final fight and the ending sequence felt like what the rest of the game should have been. If that much effort had been put into the rest of the game, it would probably have been worth the time that I put into it.
As it stands, One Piece: World Seeker is a mediocre game that is entirely propped up by the franchise it’s based on.
I’m giving it an unapologetic 4.5/10, and it only gets the extra point five for giving me the opportunity to send a Hawk Rifle into Akainu’s face.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and watch some actual One Piece where the stakes matter and every character is lovingly crafted.