I Love a Good Job Simulator as Much as the Next Unemployed Gamer, But...
Virtual jobs have always had an inexplicable pull for me. I loved the Mechanic Simulator series, also published by PlayWay S.A., so I was pretty stoked when I saw there was going to be a ship simulator. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite what I had in mind. I'd have loved to see some cockpit views and a first-person mission or two, but alas that was not to be. What it is, however, is sort of like several games in one.
You start out with some money and a ship in dry dock, in need of repair. After repairing your ship, you are given the first of various missions intended to give a glimpse of what civilian ship-life is like on the high seas in 2017. This one involves the crane game, which is simply loading cargo containers onto the ship for the next mission. The controls are deliberately not intuitive, in order to make loading the ship more challenging. Also, there is a lot of clicking and holding “to lock/unlock each corner of a cargo container”. Now I suppose it wouldn't be a job simulator if it wasn't appropriately tedious, so I'll forgive the necessity of clicking and holding to lock/unlock each corner of a cargo container. After all, I'm not getting paid to not click and hold to lock/unlock each corner of a cargo container.
Graphically, Ships 2017 is not bad. The graphics engine is very advanced, but I feel like the game doesn't take full advantage of it. I can use it to bring my computer to it's knees, but even when I do so, the game still lacks polish and shading. However, this is a reasonably price indie game, so I suppose that is to be expected.
The funky music is very enjoyable and the sea sound effects are great. I can almost smell the rotten fish and fresh diesel. Nice work there.
The tutorial is a bit ambiguous. It doesn't tell you the difference between regenerate and repair. If you select regenerate, it seems to break the tutorial. I'd start over again to make sure, but I don't want to play “click and hold to lock/unlock each corner of a cargo container”, any more, and there doesn't appear to be a way to create a second account. Also, the tutorial seems to dominate the game. Every mission I've done comes with a tutorial, and to boot, you must complete each mission in order before another mission is given, making the game play like ten different linear how-to simulators.
Below is a picture of the tugboat mission. At the end of the gray line is a giant ship you occasionally see the bow of. Occasionally. You can zoom in from here, but not out. So you are expected to basically run blind, completely unlike a tugboat pilot. Is this a bug? I hope their idea of making a mission challenging isn't the equivalent of putting blinders on the player. It seems to me that if you wanted to make it challenging and accurate by blinding the player, you could at least do it by requiring players to pilot from a first-person bridge view. Anyway, after a few bumps and bruises, I was finally able to slowly grope my way outside the port.
I was not, however, able to “Park tug in specified zone.” because I could not determine where the zone was. Obviously this is a bug. One that stops me from completing this mission.
I posted my grievance via the Steam forum and the first patch is in, but still no fix for this issue. At least they haven't abandoned the game, and one of the developers assures me this fix is slated. Hopefully the fix will involve allowing the player to zoom out, and not just adding another yellow arrow to direct the tug to it's parking space.
After completing the previous missions I fortunately managed to make enough money to purchase the next ship, so lets see what that the DCV Builder can do. The first mission went smoothly, but I got hung up on the second mission, attempting to connect my crane hook to a wind mill blade. I managed to attach, but was unable to click and hold to lock/unlock each corner as two of the corners were not visible on screen. I had to restart the mission and make sure I avoided this by being properly zoomed out before getting close enough to activate the locks. In spite of all my efforts, after attaching to the windmill blade, there is no indication of where to put it. Just as with the tug mission, the “specified area” is nowhere to be seen. More shoddy game development, I'm afraid. :((
I wanted to try “Orange Ship” but I just can't bring myself to risk another head injury.
You can find the Steam reviews here. They are “mixed” at 40% positive out of ten. Not a good sign. To be honest, I'm not sure how they got that high. This game is incomplete at best, and with “challenges” like, occluding the player's view, comes off as a bit lazy. I can see some work went into it, and I appreciate how hard it is to make a game, but I still feel it's unacceptable to take folk's money under circumstances like this. If they fix the game so it can be completed, I'll consider revising my review, but as it stands I feel compelled to give it a three. The idea is sound, but the execution is still a bit lacking.