Wot I Think: Nantucket

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My rotten sloop is wheezing into port, the decks slick with blubber and blood, and still it isn’t enough. The sea teems with life and before this day is done, I swear I will silence all of it. From our home port to the distant shores of Europe and Africa, the water will run red.

This is Nantucket, a strategic-RPG about the golden age of whaling. I’m hunting for Moby Dick but it’s a long voyage from lowly captain to vengeance and fate personified. Mostly, my time is spent stabbing tiny baby whales until they turn into piles of money and food.

To help me in my quest to vanquish the all-destroying but unconquering whale, I’m going to bring my friends from the band Mastodon into the room. Let’s see how their version of events, as told in the song Blood & Thunder from Moby Dick concept album Leviathan, matches with my experiences.

“I think that someone is trying to kill me
Infecting my blood and destroying my mind”

Here we have an immediate problem. As is their wont, Mastodon have gone off and done their own thing instead of following instructions. I explicitly told them to give me some feedback about the game Nantucket but judging by these lyrics I can only imagine they’ve picked up the wrong top-down ship-based management game. I’d bet you anything they’ve been playing Sunless Sea.

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Moby Dick is a story about monomania though and the desperate ends to which it can lead. It’s about a lot of things but obsession is certainly one of them. While I didn’t expect Nantucket to go all in on sanity tests and the sort of sticky situations that Sunless Sea excels at, I do wish Moby Dick had more of a presence, as a metaphor or as an actual monster.

Instead, there’s a fairly standard structure, as far as this type of game goes. You start small, with a rubbish ship and a small, inexperienced crew, and you rise through the ranks, gaining prestige by completing delivery missions and finding new hunting grounds. As you and your crew level up, you can take on larger prey, and the resources gained from that prey allow you to buy bigger, stronger ships, and then you’re on the treadmill toward a boss-fight with the biggest fish (mammal, yes, but I’m sticking with the language of the time).

It’s too repetitive for my tastes, especially in the early stages when the range of jobs you can undertake is limited by your low prestige and the crappiness of your ship. I spent a lot of time just off the Eastern Coast, near Cape Cod, killing newborn narwhales for tiny amounts of blubbery loot.

I was being driven to distraction rather than to maniacal voyages into the maelstrom of my own fears and anxieties.

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“No man of the flesh could ever stop me
The fight for this fish is a fight to the death”

Oh, Mastodon. Either you really haven’t been playing this game at all or you’re far better at it than I am.

Men of the flesh have stopped me several times. Pirates, specifically, looking to steal my haul of blubber no doubt. They might be after my money as well but they’re going to be sorely disappointed. I only ever keep enough around to buy the bare minimum of supplies (food, water, liquor, wood) for each journey.

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Pirates aren’t the gravest threat in the game – that’d be the whales, rum-deficits and poverty – but they do offer a change of pace from the sometimes tedious labour of whaling.

Combat is built around a combination of dice, character skills and randomised weather effects. Until you’re facing off against the larger monstrosities of the sea (all the while keeping in mind that you are quite possibly a monster yourself), each battle is quite short. Killing a small whale only takes one harpoon strike and you won’t even need some of the nastier abilities until you’re confronting larger prey.

Abilities that allow you to tether yourself to a whale with hooks while you bleed it to death, for example. That kind of thing.

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When an encounter begins, you choose members of your crew to hop into whaling boats and then the creature(s) play a token, telling you what they will do. Usually they’re going to spear someone or smash them or knock them overboard.

Depending on their skills, which are selected from several classes including hunter and scientist, crew members can choose which of several dice to roll. The more experience they have, the more faces of the die are useful. A successful roll might heal an ally, lob a harpoon or evade an attack.

It’s simple but enjoyable, and gives a real sense of progression when a character goes from expendable to essential. Unfortunately, you’ll be doing very similar fights over and over again, in a way that might make you think you’re playing a JRPG with random battles. You can automate them but one time I tried that and my best navigator got killed by a baby whale, something that had never happened when I took control myself.

“White whale, holy grail
White whale, holy grail”

Well, quite.

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“What remorseless emperor commands me
I no longer govern my soul
I am completely immersed in darkness
As I turn my body away from the sun”

Returning to a previous point, the “remorseless emperor” that commands me as I play Nantucket is thirst and hunger and greed. A three-headed emperor. Sure, I want to find Moby Dick and settle that score, but really I’m just pottering about doing a job of work. And you know what? The longer I spend at sea working, the more I start to enjoy the job. It is repetitive, but less so now that we’ve upgraded our ship and can go hunting for beasties that have sent other sailors to a watery grave.

The flow of Nantucket is very odd. It begins, for narrative reasons, in the midst of a storm, all drama and chaos, and then strips everything back so that you spend the first few hours becalmed, waiting for something to happen.

“White whale, holy grail
White whale, holy grail”

All in good time.

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“Split your lungs with blood and thunder
When you see the white whale
Break your backs and crack your oars men
If you wish to prevail”

They do split their lungs, the men. Or at least they belt out shanties every now and again as you sail around the map. It’s a lovely touch.

Nantucket is full of lovely touches actually. The map is a splendid thing, though it doesn’t have as many ports as I hoped it might, and the engraving-style images that accompany the little multiple choice moments that occur during voyages are fantastic.

The actual decision-making is great too. Depending on the traits of your captain and crew, various things can happen out at sea, and usually you can react in various ways. You’re always shown the possible consequences, as percentages, so you’re not going to end up with a bunch of mutineers forcing you down the plank because you refuse to share your grog. There’s always fair warning.

As well as shuffling around traits and providing cash or morale-boosting incentives, these choices give character to your crew and break up the monotony of whaling. And like the whaling itself, they become more involved as the game progresses.

“This ivory leg is what propels me
Harpoons thrust in the sky
Aim directly for his crooked brow
And look him straight in the eye”

Sid Meier’s Pirates! Is the closest thing to Nantucket that I’ve played. Both games involve moving from port to port trying to gather riches. Both have you dividing your takings among your crew. Both have an open-ended nature and can sometimes lack focus.

Nantucket should be held together by the hunt for Moby Dick, that desire to look the beast straight in the eye, but I’ve found it to be more like a version of Pirates with less mini-games and less possibilities. Despite that, I’ve found myself going back to it even as I was writing this review. Not to check facts and not out of any urge to prise a second opinion out of myself; I was playing because it has got its hooks and harpoons into me.

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Even though being a whaler boils down into fairly basic and repetitive actions, there’s a texture to Nantucket that I appreciate. It’s a fine place to spend time, even if a lot of that time is spent against the grindstone. And the more I play, the more there is to do and see, I just wish it cut to the chase much more quickly.

It is, in fact, a perfect game to play in the background while listening to podcasts. Or perhaps while listening to the audiobook of Moby Dick, and add The North Water and Jamrach’s Menagerie to your whaling horror reading/listening lists as well, if you’ve got the stomach for them.

“White whale, holy grail
White whale, holy grail”

Reader, I harried him. I harried him from one corner of the world to the next, and I spent all of my coin on a ship grand enough to slay him once and for all.

But I have not slain the great white whale, and I fear I never will.

Nantucket is available for Windows via Steam and costs £13.99.

65 Comments

  1. R. Totale says:

    There once was a man from…

  2. milligna says:

    Ooo, wasn’t aware of this. Lovely illustrations, thanks for the write-up!

  3. Captain Narol says:

    The game looks very nice but Whale Hunting is an absolute “No way” for me.

    • TimePointFive says:

      lol.

    • pookie101 says:

      Right there with you. Something I’ll be skipping no matter how nice it looks

    • milligna says:

      Save the imaginary whales! Hopefully this will lead to taking a strong stand against depicting murder in video games or something.

    • Fleko81 says:

      I ask this question 100% genuinely and with no intent to appear supercilious, but does your aversion to the content extend to people-killing in games too? I can understand why people might avoid a game based on its content – I am not presurposing this is you, but I would speculate that there are bunch of people out there who would cheerfully blow the heads off hyper realistically detailed pixel humans, yet would have an issue with clicking some buttons to harpoon a pixel whale. At very least I don’t think I have ever read a comment that says “interesting looking game mechanics,I just don’t like killing people”. Again, absolutely not intended as a slight or flame, I am genuinely interested in the psychology as it’s not some thing that immediately occurs to me.

      • elvirais says:

        I’ve been wondering about the same thing. Most people playing games are digital mass murderers of humans or intelligent outer space lifeforms, but someone kicks a dog or shoots an animal and that’s the bad guy?

        Maybe because we got that indoctrination from so many Hollywood movies, where the only difference between the ‘bad guy’ and the ‘good guy’ is not number of kills but just, do they kick dogs or treat them well?

        • mitrovarr says:

          Most of the people you kill in games are either Very Bad People or, at least, are on the level of enemy soldiers during a war. I can’t enjoy games that have you straight up murdering civvies and I doubt I’m the only one.

          • khamul says:

            Yes, precisely.
            I only played Dishonoured once I heard there was a pacifist route.

            Well… I also play as the Vampire Counts in Warhammer, but that’s the ethical choice, right? I mean, when you go to war as a Necromancer, you’ve immediately halved the number of casualties – and if some of the enemy run away, that’s even more lives saved, right?

          • poliovaccine says:

            Yknow, very often they’re “bad guys,” but almost equally often they’re not. People like Grand Theft Auto just fine, it sure seems popular anyway.

            This reminds me of the chuckle I got in the HYP? article for Streets of Rogue… people were lamenting they couldnt share the game with their kids because among its consumables/powerups are items like “cocaine.” Not only does it seem totally screwballs to me, and symptomatic of our total inurement to violence, that these parents object to drug use, but dont seem to mind their tykes and tots engaging in simulated brutality, murder, kidnapping, extortion, and even slavery haha… but some folks’ solutions to the cocaine problem were equally backwards. “Just call it speedy powder!” Because yes, the word “cocaine” is the issue, not the simulated use of an addictive stimulant. If it were just an addictive stimulant with a made up name, well, what could be the harm?? How about a made up name like “crack,” or how about “flakka?” Flakka, that sounds silly and fun!

            Personally I think parental censorship is entirely moot unless you’re one of those helicopter parents – scuse me, drone parents – who homeschool their kid and dont let em have any friends but the local Amish or something. Actually, even the little Ahmlets get up to some buggery haha. I just feel like trying to protect a human being you’ve bothered to create from even just knowing “bad things” exist is doomed to fail. Better to acknowledge reality and educate if it’s such a concern.

            To me, the perennial example is in alcohol use in the US vs France. In the States, the legal drinking age is 21, and most families would never dream of teaching their 6, 7, 8 year olds how to drink – that would get child protective services called on them by some neighbor peeking thru their blinds, no doubt. However, in France and some other countries, that’s precisely what they do – they give the kids a tiny sip of wine so they arent forever enticed by the forbidden fruit, and they’re taught about how different glasses and snifters and carafes are made at different sizes, to encourage different sized portions and pacing of your drinks, all in the service of knowing how much you’re drinking and not getting absolutely shitfaced by accident. So these kids grow up with drinking as a mere fact of life. Counter that with how kids experience alcohol in the states – it’s forbidden, it’s taboo, maybe a “cool dad” will share a beer with his 18 year old son on Thanksgiving or something, but mostly kids grow up seeing alcohol as this prohibited, adults-only item, and that makes them want it unreasonably much. Then, when they finally turn 21, they rush out and drink like they always wanted to when they were 15. They die in car crashes and go to hospitals with alcohol poisoning, they choke on vomit or die of respiratory depression because theyve been rx’d Xanax since they were 16 because that addictive sedative is different for some reason, they often come to drink every day, they develop alcoholic habits as college students, and a lot of them never get over that, either. This is the mentality that invented kegstands, haha. It’s the mentality that results in several “deaths by *frat hazing*” every goddamn year.

            Anyway, the whole thing of telling kids happy little lies is screwy to me broadly, because kids are better equipped to learn and understand than anyone. Kids arent squeamish, and they arent dumb – they are just inexperienced, but in my experience they’re usually capable of understanding anything you take the time to properly explain. Unless they’re already crying or something.

            I just still cant get over that, though. “Just call it Speedy Powder!” Like.. what part of the issue does that actually solve? Haha

            P.S. Jason Brody definitely left that island in the same position as many Vietnam vets coming home – i.e. he didnt realize all those injections would actually addict him to heroin..!

      • Sound says:

        One possible response is to note that depicting whale hunting versus person killing is not a direct comparison. That for as many people-killing-sims we play, they don’t tend to normalize, protect, or pave the way toward actually killing people. Arguably.

        But you cannot say the same thing about a lot of other morally & politically charged modern issues, such as modern whale hunting. Where the person-killing-sims reach a barrier is that this issue is(mostly, arguably) settled in our culture, and isn’t necessarily representing a risk of supporting something bad(arguably), the same is not true of whale hunting. Whale hunting is still actively practiced, and there’s still an active political/moral fight seeking to resolve this issue once and for all, where there is very real potential for backsliding.

        In this view, it can be rational to draw a distinction, and not care as much about people killing sims compared to a whale-killing sim.

        • Slaadfax says:

          There’s also an argument to be made about the paradigm of “good vs. evil.” Much of the time the human (or human-like) foes are comfortably labeled “bad guys,” which serves as plenty of justification to slide past any feelings of discomfort in delivering violence upon them.

          Even in games where you play the “bad guy,” the people you’re up against get labeled as “enemy,” again making them easier to murder, and half of the time are set up to be nastier than you anyway, making it easier yet.

          Even through the abstraction of gameplay, it’s more difficult to brush off harming/maiming/killing something that defies good/evil classification in the eyes of gameplay, like neutral animals or bystanders.

          I just recently played a non-lethal run of Dishonored, and even though you can kill the dogs without spoiling the non-lethal, and even though they’re annoying as crap, I still didn’t feel great about knocking a few of them off.

          Finally, to belabor the point as much as possible, there’s an aspect to whaling that adds a layer of cruelty to the proceedings. When you add something like that to the mix, you can arrive at some discomfort even in clear cut good vs evil scenarios.

        • poliovaccine says:

          While I basically agree with your sentiment, you begin with the assertion that this whale-hunting game might contribute to normalizing the act, whereas murder-simulators do not, but I think that point in itself is up for serious debate. Never mind projects like America’s Army, which are designed with that motive explicitly in mind, but the entire glut of Call of Duties and Tom Clancies essentually fetishizes a certain type of paramilitary violence, and it absolutely normalizes many peoples’ perceptions of those events in real life – people say, “why can’t we just go in there and wipe em all out?” without a smidge of irony… And, as per the HYP? article on Streets of Rogue I mentioned elsewhere, you see the example of parents who are worried about the “cocaine” powerup in the game making it unfriendly to their kids, whereas the murder, beatings, kidnapping, extortion and slavery all seem to get a pass because *obviously* we all know the difference between fantasy and reality…

          As a general rule, I don’t believe that violence in games begets violence in gamers, but I absolutely do believe that violence in media is effectively normalized to those who consume it for the primary sake of entertainment. Same goes for sex in media – more and more titillation is required the more we become inured to it. It’s the precise same mechanism as building tolerance to any drug, it’s all just stimulus.

          So I mean, while I agree with the overall point you’re making, it’s not entirely for the same reasons that you make it. I don’t really believe fantasy and reality have fixed delineating marks between their territories, and I certainly don’t believe the barriers between them are in the same places for everybody.

          Me, I don’t think this game or any like it will do anything significant to normalize whale-hunting, not anymore than Call of Duty normalizes murder. Which is to say, it probably does to some extent, but that extent is negligible in the face of other factors. Most people will have decided what they think about whaling regardless the influence of this game, just like most people have decided how they feel about geopolitics and murder in spite of any amount of Call of Duties. They just arent primary enough to be significant influencers, I’d say, though I can’t say I believe they have no influence at all.

          If anything, I see this game’s relative obscurity, both in itself and of its subject matter, making it overall way *less* problematic than your average Call of Duty – purely in consideration of the broad, often young, sometimes unstable audience that franchise can more effectively reach..

      • pookie101 says:

        We all have certain lines we wont cross in real life or in this case virtually. For me i don’t want to commit virtual torture, I don’t like hunting animals in games, and I don’t want to play a sim of hunting whales of all things as it was and is a brutal and vicious slaughter.

        Nazi’s however are fair game.. “There are so many things you can do with a Nazi and a hatchet”

      • GeoX says:

        I don’t know; maybe we all SHOULD have problems with games where you kill people. But the fact is, if it’s a double-standard, ALL of us have it. Would you play a child abuse simulator? Puppy-torture? Rape? If not, then you have to realize that you have the same sensibilities that you claim not to understand in people who don’t want to play a whaling game.

    • SnallTrippin says:

      …that is silly.

    • TheBetterStory says:

      That is totally fair. Some video game plots are always going to be dealbreakers for certain people. (I avoid anything with casual murder in it myself.)

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I’m the same. I appreciate that feeling this way while being absolutely fine with most digital person-murder can seem like an absurd double standard. However, the depletion of whale populations at this time in history was a genuine tragedy, and it makes me very sad to be reminded of it.

    • Stone_Crow says:

      Same for me. I wouldn’t play “White Slaver Simulator” either, and yet, like others, will merrily kill Nazis and aliens and “the other team” all day long without a second thought. Funny the lines we will and won’t cross ain’t it.

    • GernauMorat says:

      It’s funny. I won’t/can’t play Prison Architect because of US mass incarceration (personal choice, not saying the game is evil), but I’ll happily play this. Not saying you are wrong, by the way, just it’s interesting what individual lines we each hold.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        It is really interesting. I’m sure people have the same apparent inconsistencies when it comes to films and stuff, but I think interactivity makes the reaction that much more powerful. It’s another reason why I love this medium.

      • GomezTheChimp says:

        I uninstalled Prison Architect at the point in the tutorial where I was required to build an execution room…

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      ooshp says:

      I stopped playing Solitaire because I couldn’t bear the thought of all those imaginary trees being slaughtered to make the cards.

    • Morph says:

      Definitely agree. I couldn’t do the whale hunting in AC: Black Flag either. Something about the size and the peaceful nature perhaps?

    • Kefren says:

      I get the pun (nicely done), though this obviously is an issue for many people.

      Elsewhere I was told “context is important. this game is set about 100 years ago when whaling was legal, not today. it is historically accurate in those terms.”

      But whaling still goes on, and is still legal in some countries. It’s a current issue. The campaign against it will only succeed by preventing normalisation of the practice, same way as any other bad practice from the past was eventually overthrown.

      Apparently, this is from the steam FAQ:
      “A game about whaling, really?
      Nantucket is a work of fiction that portrays the Golden Age of American Whaling and its protagonists. It is a project born of our passion for history and great literature, such as Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.”

      “the Golden Age of American Whaling”

      Imagine a game about making a living from slavery, which was defended by the devs as being about “the Golden Age of American slavery”. That isn’t neutral language there. “Golden age” is casting something in a positive light, not a neutral one. As an ongoing practice, it is highly relevant when something is created that recasts the abhorrent practice as something positive.

      Because games aren’t reality.
      Killing something in a game is not killing it in real life, I agree. But the values portrayed are often real values, and may also go on to affect other people’s perceptions and opinions. And if it is about something that is a current issue, then it can be even more important.

      “Games aren’t reality” is also trotted out in these cases, but that could be used to justify the new game “Smack that bitch!” or “Bash that fag!”. “Hey, it’s only a game, I’m not really hitting women and beating up gays!” But we all know that it’s about values too, and those can be very real.

    • Captain Narol says:

      I didn’t expected my short post to generate so many polarized reactions !

      For the record, I also don’t play games where you play a criminal (GTA, etc…) or a professional assassin (Hitman, etc…), that’s just not to my taste and I’m not trying to push my personal feelings and values onto other people.

      However I play a lot of wargames and RPGs, but soldiers in war have made more or less consciously the choice to defend a cause and are not “innocents” like the whales hunted in this game.

      Whales are an endangered species and animals that I find fascinating, I would just feel bad hunting them in a game.

      Your mileage and moral code may vary, to each their own.

      • Tanngnjost says:

        There’s a lot of debate going on in this comment section, here’s a perspective I don’t think anyone has expressed. Whales aren’t a single species, and there is at least one that’s not endangered and hunted for meat, the minke whale.

        This kind of whaling is both more sustainable and more ethical than factory farming in my opinion. For one, far fewer whales are killed than could possibly harm their numbers, unlike, say, tunafish. Second, they get to live in their natural habitat, unlike a cow or a pig who’ll likely spend its whole life in close confines and never see the sun.

        Of course this is a limited example, but I think people are too quick to say whaling is reprehensible because they think it’s always done on species threatened with extinction, and never considering that it can be anything else. Of course whaling is wrong if it threatens a species, and perhaps it’s wrong to kill an animal only because you like the taste of its meat in the first place, but in that case this argument should probably be extended to other forms of hunting.

        After all, no one reacts in the same way if it’s a land mammal. I don’t think a game about hunting mammoth or where you get to kill and eat great awks would elicit anywhere near the same response from people.

        I was going to post this as a separate comment and not a reply, but I guess it doesn’t matter.

      • Charles de Goal says:

        > However I play a lot of wargames and RPGs, but soldiers in war have made more or less consciously the choice to defend a cause and are not “innocents” like the whales hunted in this game.

        Until very recently most powerful armies were based on conscription. So if you’re playing a game about WW2, those bloody nazi soldiers may very well be random German youngsters who had little choice but to fight in the Wehrmacht, even though they might hate Hitler. Similarly if you’re playing on the other side.

        (desertion is hardly a workable option)

    • Ossian says:

      Interesting discussion killing. I guess for me it’s more about choice with regards to the person/animal being killed. (I’m talking video games here, but this can relate to real-life as well I suppose) Unless an animal is a predator and actively hunting me, and I do kill animals in games that are aggressive, then it’s just a creature going about its business, basically innocent. The same thing goes with people in games. I tend to only kill characters who I perceive as threats, either because they are actively trying to do harm to me or other characters or they have intention of doing harm to me or other characters at some point in the future. I tend not to kill video game characters who aren’t threats/bad if there is a choice to not kill them and I will always choose non-lethal methods of making my way through a game if there is an option. Killing an innocent animal in a game just seems…well, cruel. I feel the same way about killing innocent human characters too.

      Games like Postal and Hatred hold no interest for me at all.

      GTA is a bit of a weird one, though. Personally, I haven’t owned a copy of a GTA game since Vice City. I’ve played a bit of V on a friends Xbox. It’s a weird game in that they do go for a semblance of realism, but at the same time it is a sandbox of cartoony mayhem. When playing it the pull of causing mayhem is strong. Usually when playing V on my buddies system, it’s mostly about driving around and exploring, haven’t played any of the story, but after a while the guns do come out.

      • TrenchFoot says:

        I thought the “prostitutes” in GTA were grad students trying to raise money for a research project. ~ stolen joke

    • TrenchFoot says:

      No whale killing for me either. Although the social question is a bit moot because people who enjoy killing-type games have already got a miles-long start on their sociopathy. Our pop culture is in the toilet, but let’s have fun before we are all on court-mandated Adderall. If you want to think “games don’t cause X,” then you’ve asked the wrong question and are likely your company’s lead in ad sales.

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    subdog says:

    SPLIT YOUR LUNGS IN BLOOD AND THUNDER

    edit: between this and the guy on the headset review asking how Hawkwind sounds, it’s a pretty rockin’ day at RPS

  5. TheBloke says:

    I’ve been watching this game on YouTube/Twitch for the past week or so, and bought it today on day 1 as I’ve been looking forward to trying it. My impression from watching it is that it’s a fun, simple, pass-the-time sort of game. As Adam says, the sort of game to play while doing something else, and likely playing in short spells when one has a free moment.

    And important for that goal, at least to me, it has autosaves; it doesn’t force the perma-death of a rogue-like/lite. You can play like that of course, but personally for this sort of game I don’t like to. If I have to keep starting over, I lose interest and it changes from being a pass-the-time game to something heavier, which I don’t expect Nantucket’s gameplay would sustain. The moment-to-moment gameplay is quite repetitive, so if one isn’t making regular progress I think it would wear out its welcome.

    For those who’d like to see a few hours of its gameplay, I highly recommend the YouTuber “The Historical Gamer”. Here’s his Nantucket playlist: link to goo.gl. As the name suggests, he has videos for loads of other historical and strategy games too.

  6. Durgendorf says:

    Leviathan.

    Noice.

  7. SpyPhone says:

    The game looks awesome!

  8. RuySan says:

    I played the hell out of “Leviathan” back then, and it always bothered me that they refer to a sperm whale as “fish”. I thought it was common sense that a whale is a cetacean. They could have switched “fish” for “beast” and it would make more sense and sound better.

    • khamul says:

      Whales are referred to as ‘fish’ throughout Moby Dick.
      It’s one of many reasons why that book was not one of my best reads of books from the 1800s.

      • Zombiwan Kenobi says:

        Judging history by modern standards isn’t much fair nor wise.
        Judging novels or even virtual content from a game is even less useful as most people are able to tell the difference between fiction and reality. Playing the bad guy in a game can be fun and certainly doesn’t mean you’re actually a bad guy. Life is not as simple as black and white, or good and bad dichotomy.

        But hey people love to think they’re paragons of virtue and in the end better than others, especially better than dead and buried people.

        As far as i’m concerned i didn’t play much this game only because it’s mostly RNG and grind, two things i really hate about modern “small” games. Concept is interesting but also quite frustrating.

      • Nevard says:

        I mean to be fair, whales do look very much like very large fish.
        They don’t even have breasts! How was anyone supposed to know that they are mammals?

        • khamul says:

          Um, no, they really don’t. They have blowholes and breathe air. Their tail fin is in the horizontal plane not the vertical. They’re warm-blooded. Their skin isn’t scaly. They don’t have other fins all over the goddam place.

          I mean, I’m not a biologist: if I can spot this stuff with a few moment’s thought, surely there’s enough there to make anyone with half a brain, even a couple of hundred years ago, go ‘huh, that’s odd?’.

          Of course, you could answer that Moby Dick is a novel, not a scientific attempt to taxonomatically categorise a creature: except in that case WHY DOES IT HAVE A WHOLE CHAPTER DEDICATED TO EXPLAINING WHY A WHALE IS A FISH?!

          I have read quite a lot of C19 literature. A lot of it I would willingly go back to. Moby Dick CAN SHUT RIGHT UP. I wanted to like it, I really tried to like it… and there genuinely is a great story in there somewhere. It’s just a shame that Herman Melville felt he had to fight so hard to stop it getting out.

          • RuySan says:

            The “scientific” chapters of Moby Dick are almost as bad as the hunting chapters in Ana Karenina. People in the 19th century had way too much free time (at least the rich people), and so books had this much fluff.

            And Mastodon could have retconned the “fish” part. It always sounds silly when i listen to that song.

          • Nevard says:

            You can spot it with a few moments thought because the fact that those are important details has been formerly explained to you.
            Sharks don’t look scaly. Plenty of fish have features that others don’t, and a blowhole could fit that. The position of fins isn’t going to be important to 90% of people. And I would challenge you to identify the temperature of an animal’s blood by looking at it!

            It’s really not weird that people thought that whales were fish. They’re pretty much the same shape, live in the ocean, very hard to study or look at closely until killed, and most people never saw one.

            And, I must repeat this, they don’t have breasts! How ridiculous is it to call something a mammal if it’s got no boobs? That’s what mammal means!

          • khamul says:

            Charles Darwin was born in 1809 and died in 1882. Controversy about who really came up with the idea of evolution aside, I’m pretty confident that Darwin would have spotted those features. Because that’s what a biologist *does*.

            Yeah, I can understand people thinking whales were fish. I would be absolutely happy for Queequeg to believe that whales were fish – even though I’m pretty sure there are references to the *hot* blood of the whale drenching him.

            I could forgive Herman Melville not knowing or caring whether a whale is a fish in a story about hunting them. I could forgive him accurately representing people as calling them fish, even though they’re not. I could just about forgive him inserting an absolutely pointless and unnecessary chapter on the biology of whales if it used accurate observation to conclude that they’re *not* fish… or even a chapter where he looks at the available evidence, and then happens to draw sensible but wrong conclusions.

            But an absolutely unwarranted chapter of woolly-headed incoherent badly-observed nonsense, in the middle of the story for no reason? Sorry, that’s just crap. My objection isn’t that he was wrong – it’s that he felt it was appropriate to share his opinion, at length, in detail, without making the slightest effort to try to be right!

          • GeoX says:

            Boy, given that a lot of people are STILL reacting to Moby-Dick with hostile bafflement a hundred-fifty-plus years after its publication, it’s no wonder everyone hated it when it was first published. I can think of no author more ahead of his time. The “fun facts about whales” chapters are not pointless. They contribute to the novel’s oceanic unfathomability (and people complaining about Melville calling whales “fish” are missing the point as badly as anyone’s ever missed anything), and the novel would be much less without them. It’s not meant to be an adventure novel, or whatever people are objecting to it for not being.

  9. Neutrino says:

    “but I’ve found it to be more like a version of Pirates with less fewer mini-games and less fewer possibilities.”

    • morganjah says:

      Would people be more comfortable with the subject matter if they replaced the whales with ocean-going grammar nazis? :)

      • Flavour Beans says:

        “Arrrgh, shiver me timbers!”

        Faintly, in the distance, from a rowboat alongside the pirate galleon, “Surely you mean ‘shiver *MY* timbers’!”

      • morganjah says:

        Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering grammar-Nazi; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

    • GeoX says:

      As with most obnoxious grammar pedantry, the less/fewer distinction is an artificial one that contradicts the ways people speak and have spoken. See here.

  10. Monggerel says:

    Eh, I prefered Remission anyway.

  11. anHorse says:

    “Sid Meier’s Pirates! Is the closest thing to Nantucket that I’ve played”

    Well that’s sold me lol

  12. zombiewarrior07 says:

    Perhaps this game should have been titled Japanese whaling “scientific research” simulator?
    Years of “research” has finally established that if you shoot an explosive tipped harpoon into a whale, it results in the death of the organism (plus several tonnes of whale sushi).

    Can’t wait for the Green Peace Sea Shepherd DLC.

    Question: would anybody care about whales if they looked like enormous tarantulas? Just a thought.

    • GeoX says:

      Are you saying you think the only difference between whales and tarantulas is their appearance?

      • zombiewarrior07 says:

        Of course not.
        It was a question to encourage discussion about a hypothetical situation, a ‘thought experiment’, if you will.
        I asked what if they LOOKED like tarantulas.
        😀

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