When we reviewed Tempest, a game of piracy in a fantasy setting, I came away saddened that it was all grinding turns and cannon aiming, with crew management that wasn’t very personable or fun. “Why has nobody successfully transferred the shipboard panic of FTL or the crew management of XCOM to a wooden frigate on the high seas?” I lamented. “Maybe in the future, some developer will plunder those design lessons.”
Here’s a trailer.
Set in a naval golden age with sea monsters, it tasks you with exploring the procedurally generated seas, fulfilling quests and surviving encounters with kraken, pirates, and big waves. There’s permadeath if your captain gets offed by a foe or a shipboard fire, but if he escapes on a lifeboat or becomes stranded on an island the game will continue despite the loss of your vessel. Presumably, you'll have to work your way back up the rigging. Sadly, the trailer doesn't reveal much of how the game is controlled or designed but here’s what the developers, Fireblade Software, have to say about it.
"We always wondered why a game didn't exist that combined the Tactical combat of games like FTL with the exploration mechanics of titles such as Sunless Sea, all wrapped up in an "Age of Sail" setting.
"As development progressed, we felt that Abandon Ship deserved an Art Style to match the dramatic tone of the game, and the Classic Naval Oil Painting style was a perfect thematic fit... artists like Turner, Ivan Aivazovsky, Willem Velde, James Wilson Carmichael and Ebenezer Colls"
Those are some good inspirations to draw from. Sunless Sea is beloved by many for its storytelling, and FTL for its roguelike silliness and challenge. Whether you can do service to bloody Turner in a videogame, I remain sceptical, but those are still very respectable goals.
Abandon Ship is due out some time in 2017. A Steam page is already up. We'll keep a spyglass focused on the horizon for it.