Thank you HeroCraft for sending us a review code!
Under the Jolly Roger is an open world action RPG that was originally released on mobile devices in 2016. As of this review, it’s now available on all the major console systems. The controls are noticeably geared for a touch screen, but the Switch doesn’t utilize them. As a result, one of the tutorial lessons is completely broken and unfinishable. After notifying the publisher, I set aside the game and hoped that a future update would resolve the issue. As of version 1.05 the issue still remains, but the game is still playable without completing the tutorials. How this escaped being discovered in beta testing is beyond me.
Despite not being able to complete the tutorials, I still fumbled around and had fun taking on various quests, ship battles, and seizing opponent ships. I had my fair share of losses too which doesn’t seem to have any penalty other than paying for ship repairs. Gold is the in-game currency and can be earned by trading goods, sinking ships, or completing quests.
You can sail around on the over-world map and explore each port and all the goods and services they have to offer. As you sail across the map, you’ll see notifications for nearby ships and battles you can take on if you’re willing and able. In the battle mode, you’ll see your ship’s vital stats including the sails, hull, boarding crew, and morale. If the boarding crew is wiped out, you won’t be able to take over enemy ships and you’ll have to damage their hulls and sails to render them useful. If your ship is sunk, it’ll respawn with some damage and fewer crew members onboard.
Crew members can be recruited at ports and you can pick up some free help or experienced men for more money. After sailing for a time, you’ll have to pay everyone or let some people off your ship. The longer you have the crew members with you, they’ll earn experience and you can promote them to elevated positions. You can also designate where they work on your ship. If you have multiple men handling the sails, you’ll be able to maneuver your ship easier. You’ll also want several men handling the cannons to speed up your attack rate. Lastly, you’ll want a maxed out boarding crew to increase your chances of taking over hostile ships.
The ship to ship battles are pretty intense as you’ll have to catch up to your enemy while avoiding their attack zone which is highlighted in red for your convenience. If you weaken a ship enough and get close to it, boarding is a possibility. Bigger ships may have more crew members and you may find yourself outnumbered, so be careful. One tactic you can use is equipping poisonous cannon balls to reduce the number of capable fighters before commandeering the ship. Once you board a ship, the game will switch to a third person sword-fighting mode. Enemies will have a red hue to them so you know who to aim for. When the red to blue power bar on the bottom swings to your favor, the ship is yours. Otherwise, yours is sunk.
Being a pirate is not a family-friendly affair. You’ll come across booze that you can drink or sell. Language is a bit of an issue with words like d*mn in the dialogue. Stories of ghosts and undead pirates are also mentioned throughout the game.
If you’re okay with living the life of a heathen pirate, then you’ll have some fun setting sail in Under the Jolly Roger. With over one hundred quests, you’re sure to have some swashbuckling adventures that will keep you entertained for a while. For an additional $9.99 you can get the Jade Sea DLC that adds new ships, characters, monsters, and missions.