Edited by: Tiffany Lillie
Bandai Namco’s manga/anime-inspired open world adventure was highly anticipated. With a history of not-so-ideal games in the franchise, fans were looking forward to the latest attempt to bring to life the extremely varied and colorful world of One Piece, with Luffy and his wacky pirate crew.
Getting the crew together
Story mode begins with saving, picking up, and fetching your crew members so you can start your adventure. One Piece: World Seeker takes place on a single island that you explore by foot (figuratively speaking). Different missions take you to different places on the large-but-not-huge island.
In between the main missions, there are several kinds of side quests. Amidst a sheer endless number of fetch quests, there are also quests that raise the Karma meter — a counter that shows Luffy’s relationship with his friends and crewmates. While this is an interesting system, the lack of variety in quests in general feels stale quite quickly. The fact that from the beginning quests consist of "go to X" and "fetch X amount of Y" feels a little unimaginative and doesn’t take advantage of the potential the universe of One Piece offers; they’re pirates with superpowers, after all!
Reaching for the stars
Speaking of superpowers, thanks to the power of some very special fruit, our protagonist has several abilities for combat and movement that are born of his ability to stretch and manipulate his body. This is, hands down, the best element of One Piece: World Seeker — Luffy’s ability to stretch, reach, throw himself, and otherwise move around the map. Not unlike Spiderman with his webs, Luffy can pull himself onto ledges, catapult himself forwards, and even hover by rotating his legs like a helicopter’s blades. In combat, his abilities involve a rain of fists and some anatomically-improbable kicks. It's fun, but not as fun as swinging across half a town without touching the ground.
As for the towns, although they're interesting to look at and fun to explore, they're also quite plain and don’t exactly scream One Piece. The spaces between towns are also extremely empty and quite boring to travel though. Swinging from tree to tree is great fun, but it does get old sometime after the third town you visit. The character designs and dialogue are undeniably One Piece, but only a few name tags and elements specifically reference the popular manga and anime series. The fact that the devs kept everything on one island feels like a shame as well; Luffy and his crew have a pretty spectacular ship to travel around on, yet most traveling is done either by foot (and hand) or by fast travel to previously-visited places.
Seeing the sights
One Piece: World Seeker is nice to look at, but not spectacularly so. The anime-inspired graphics are nothing new and although the characters are fun to look at, the overall effect falls a little short of the expectations based on the anime. The open-world title looks just a little dated, which is not expected from a high-profile publisher like Bandai Namco. Another disappointing aspect is the voice acting, or lack thereof. All in all, there is very little of it, with most lines on the screen being accompanied with sighs, groans, or similar sounds, rather than actual spoken voice lines. Given the focus on familiar characters from the series, this feels like a shame — even Japanese voice lines would have given the title a more polished feel.
Kicking up a fuss
The skills and abilities you can unlock as you play make combat feel relatively interesting, and although things do get a little repetitive, the fact that we have an option for stealth provides a fun additional challenge. That said, the fact that almost all opponents use the same generic ruffian/sailor model (aside from a few boss enemies) feels disappointing. There is little, if any, variety for most of the game.
The Verdict: Fair
There are fun aspects to One Piece: World Seeker, but there are also flaws; the depth of the gigantic One Piece universe wasn’t drawn upon nearly enough, with little other than the characters taken, and a big-yet-generic map to explore. Luffy’s powers are great fun, especially when used to travel from building to building or tree to tree, but they can’t make up for the somewhat unimaginative and repetitive gameplay. For die-hard One Piece fans and players interested in creatively swinging around some nice-looking cities, this is the ideal title, but too many elements feel unfinished or underdeveloped to truly say its potential was fulfilled.