Shipwreck is a retro style top down adventure game that is quite obviously influenced by games in the Legend of Zelda series. It’s a fun experience. Basically, your ship gets wrecked on this island, so you need another to leave. You adventure to get one, but the only way to do so is to use the one ship on the island once the mayor allows it. So you end up having to help the mayor solve the island’s problem. A ghost showed up recently, locked itself away in the island’s lighthouse, and has been causing storms which disrupt the people’s way of life. You must stop this evil ghost. To open the lighthouse, you need to obtain four seals, each in their own dungeon protected by monsters. Typical adventure stuff. Go to the dungeons, get new items, use the items to complete the dungeons and fight the bosses. Get the seals. Do the final dungeon, beat the final boss, and win the game. Also, you more than likely will be able to get all the achievements just by playing normally, which is good if you care about getting achievements I suppose. The music is alright. The retro style is nice if you’re into that. And you get to run around hitting things with a sword. What can I say? It’s fun. However, I feel this game has some rough downsides. While it’s clearly inspired by Zelda games, it seems to lack a lot of what makes Zelda games so entertaining.
There’s not much story in Shipwreck, instead just surviving on a main plot. That’s fine by me, but some people will see this as a point of disconnect. My point of disconnect was moreso from the fact that there’s a distinct lack of characterization. The main character has no personality or lines, but that’s because it’s YOU. The part that bugs me is that none of the people in the game have any real personality. Everyone is rather bland and most of the townspeople will say nothing of consequence to your journey or the world building. It makes them feel very forgettable and doesn’t motivate you to help them. All the villain does is cause storms, so there’s not a lot there to make you really hate them or understand them as a villain, which is sad for the main villain of the game. So your only real motivation to beat this villain is to leave the island and beat the game. Kind of a weak motivator.
Another strange thing is the overworld. Zelda games have overworlds, but… they have things in them for you to do. In Shipwreck, there are a decent number of screens on the overworld to explore, but there’s no point in exploring those extra screens. There are no enemies to fight in the overworld. No secrets to find. I believe there are one or two houses to enter. One has an item you’ll need, the other might just have some treasure. But there’s a desert, a swamp, a forest, even a graveyard in the overworld that are all empty. There are dungeons in four of the areas, a town in the center, and the final lighthouse to the North. That’s it. The areas leading to the dungeons are just small mazes. I can understand this being cool for one, possibly two areas. But all four? It feels a little bit like padding. Why not put some enemies in here? Thow in some puzzles or terrain I need my new item from the previous dungeon to overcome. Something more than just a change of scenery would’ve been greatly appreciated and give the overworld more purpose.
The dungeons aren’t too bad. I just can’t help but feel like the dungeon bosses could’ve been cooler. Maybe that’s just me. The puzzles in dungeons were also a bit lacking. There could’ve been more or just trickier ones that required more thought. Still, I will admit the dungeons were probably the best part of the game. I think having more items would’ve opened up a lot more possibilities here. You can equip any two items at a time, but there are three empty item slots. I can’t imagine why. Perhaps I’ve missed something, but it just feels like there was supposed to be more items than what we ended up with. Plus, none of the items were that creative. Sword and shield are basic. So is a bow. Having two slots for healing items, one for each specific one, is a bit silly since this is the only way to heal on the go. I like that you keep all the health you pick up because of this, but switching to the healing item every time can get tedious. And the pickaxe is probably the saddest item because, while it’s cool for the dungeon you get it for, it serves no putpose outside of that. Why wasn’t breaking rocks to get to new areas or breaking walls in other places part of the gameplay? Why was the pickaxe a one and done dungeon item? It just seems like such a missed opportunity. Also, while I liked the retro look, I wasn’t too fond of some of the art and color choices, but that’s not a big deal.
Overall, Shipwreck is a cool little game. It just could’ve been so much more. There’s lots of good ideas here, but they need to be explored. The adventuring in this game isn’t much, even though the gameplay that IS there is solid. It is also fairly short, as I beat it in one sitting. It’s only three bucks at full price. I’d say that, if you’re a Zelda fan, or want to get into Zelda games without the stress of learning all the references or paying full game prices… this is a good start. But if you’re a Zelda fan… don’t come into this expecting Link’s Awakening 2. It takes the basics of Zelda games and cuts to the chase, sacrificing most of the charm. If it was more expensive I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s not bad for the price. If you’re looking to test out Zelda basics, or if you’re already a big Zelda fan, you’ll probably appreciate this game. Otherwise it might just be too bland for your taste. Make a sequel expanding on these ideas and I’m sure I’d give it much more praise. I’m easily suckered into Zelda type games so make those improvements and you have a sale right here already.