Curse of the Sea Rats from PQube and Petoons Studio is a Metroidvania with an anthropomorphic cast set in the 18th century. Check our Curse of the Sea Rats review!
Curse of the Sea Rats is a ‘ratoidvania’ platform adventure with lovingly crafted, hand-drawn animations. Embark on the epic journey of four prisoners of the British empire, transformed into rats by the notorious pirate witch, Flora Burn. To regain their human bodies, they will have to fight dangerous bosses, uncover the secrets of the vast Irish coast, and ultimately capture the witch who cursed them.
Curse of the Sea Rats from PQube and Petoons Studio is a Metroidvania with an anthropomorphic cast set in the 18th century. In 1777 on the Irish coast, the Britain Navy was transporting some pírates to the mainland to be judged by the law. On their way there, a sorceress named Flora Burn casts a spell that turns every passenger into a rat and then proceeds to capture the admiral’s son. She also stole the Eye of the Serpent, a powerful magical artifact!
As you begin this Metroidvania, you’ll be presented with a character selection screen allowing you to pick one of the four different characters or play in couch cooperation with up to four players. One of the first things you’ll notice is how beautiful the game engine of this game is. Everything is hand-drawn, colorful, and well-animated. The background soundtrack was also pleasant to listen to. I did have a gripe, however, about the opening FMV which was of low quality due to its very high compression settings. Without going into BluRay quality, I would have expected the FMV to be at least above the narrowband YouTube territory, and it’s a shame because, once again, the cutscene was nice to look at.
As for the controls, you can attack an enemy by pressing the Square button, or combo away by pressing the Square button a few times, and dodge with the press of the Circle button. Unfortunately, the controls felt a bit stiff. One of the main issues is that each attack animation must be completely finished before moving to the next one. It also didn’t feel dynamic because the moment you start attacking, your character will stop moving. Another issue I had was that only one attack could be launched in the air at a time, then you’ll fall, and the other attacks will be made at ground level. This was annoying because if I jumped and attacked, it was because there was an enemy in a higher spot than I was.
Still in the controls department – bear with me, I have a lot to say about it – blocking enemy attacks broke the experience for me. If you have an attack animation or combo currently going on, you can’t block, and sadly even without that, the minuscule block window felt way too low. I mean, even when I was fully concentrated on blocking, I would miss it more than half of the time. The enemy strength vs. your energy also felt unbalanced from the start, and even if you have full HP, the enemies can kill you within two to three hits, and since the block window is so narrow, each enemy can destroy you.
This control scheme made the experience feel harder than it should have been. I died more than ten times before beating the first boss, a few tiny screens into the game until I got far enough in the combat to understand its pattern. Its pattern was straightforward, mind you, but even with that, it is not a guarantee of success since you have no room for error when jumping over him when he’s running at you. I mean, it’s only the first boss. You could at least encourage me and reward my perseverance.
As a tribute to the developers, I have a habit of always checking out the Credits screen of a game when it’s offered from the game menu, and this one was no different. In the PlayStation 5 version 1.0.8 of this game, which is the one I reviewed, checking out the credits screen freezes the game, and the only possible option is to close the game from the PS5 hub and reopen it again. Most are you might say that this doesn’t matter at all, and you would be right, but after my experience with the game, having it crash just from checking out the credits felt very wrong.
I really wanted to have fun with Curse of the Sea Rats after seeing a couple of videos for the game. The art style is solid, and the soundtrack is also very good. Unfortunately, in my case, I thought that the control scheme was too stiff for its own good and rendered the experience way harder than it should have been – and ultimately, completely things for me. The devs are working on a patch to fix some stuff, so hopefully, things will work out.
This Curse of the Sea Rats review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by PQube Ltd.