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Under The Jolly Roger review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One/Series X


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: HeroCraft
Developer: HeroCraft
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

I’ll give Under the Jolly Roger this: it’s the best pirate/sailing game I’ve played on the Switch in recent months.

I mean, that’s less impressive when you consider that its only competition for that title is Her Majesty’s Ship and not, say, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The latter is, of course, excellent; the former, absolutely dreadful. Still, when the choice is awful versus so-so, the mediocre game wins out every time.

Obviously, that’s not meant to be a glowing endorsement. Under the Jolly Roger started life as a mobile game a few years ago called Tempest: Pirate Action RPG, before making the jump to PS4 in early 2020 with the simpler name of Tempest. Now it’s on the Switch under its current name…and, well, it feels very much like a mobile game from a couple of years ago, with awkward controls, shallow battle systems, and not a whole lot of depth all around.

But even if it doesn’t do anything incredibly well, it’s also not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. It promises “Open World Pirate Action”, and you more or less get that. You can sail the seas, fighting whatever ships you come across and docking wherever the wind takes you to get supplies and more crew. The naval battles very much feel like those in Black Flag, and they augment them with fun (if simplistic) swordplay as you board enemy ships. And, as a bonus, unlike a lot of other mobile refugees, Under The Jolly Roger doesn’t have any glaring seams where the monetization used to be back when the game was on iOS.

The problem is that none of it leads anywhere. There’s no deeper story driving you along, so you just sail around doing the same activities over and over again. It’s certainly enjoyable enough for a little while, but it’s not too long before you start craving a bit more depth.

Which is why, as I said above, Under the Jolly Roger is best described as so-so. As mobile ports go, I’ve certainly seen a lot worse, but if you want something deeper, keep looking (or, of course, just get Black Flag instead).

HeroCraft provided us with an Under The Jolly Roger Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-