Games based off of anime franchises tend to fall in to one of two categories. The game is either loved and adored by fans of the franchise and general gamers alike. Or it’s shunned by the fan base and general gamers may never give it the time of day. Sure, there are a few outliers here and there that are just middle-of-the-road type experiences that pick up fans along the way, but more often than not, anime based games fall into one of those two previously mentioned categories. Since the announcement, I’ve been extremely hyped for One Piece World Seeker. The way Luffy traversed the world, the music, the visuals.. everything seemed right up my alley and looked insanely fun to play. But you know what they say about looks being deceiving sometimes, right?
Title: One Piece World Seeker
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed On: PC
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Game Purchased for the Purpose of This Review
One Piece World Seeker is based on the anime and manga franchise of the same name, One Piece. Right off the bat, what’s super cool about World Seeker is that the development team is getting to tell an original story in this already established series. Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are taking on the Navy and their villainous friends on a locale named Prison Island.
Several recognizable characters from the Straw Hat Pirates will make an appearance throughout the campaign, including Sanji, Roronoa Zoro, Nami, Usopp, and more. The regulars are joined by two newcomers introduced in World Seeker, Isaac and Jeanne. In fact, getting to fully know and understand these two new characters was more fun for me than the entire rest of the story combined. While the narrative does have a few elements here and there that are somewhat interesting, it never quite hooked me the way I was hoping it would.
Exploration is the name of the game, as the entire thing was built around being an open world exploration game. I think the team lost sight of the story at some point during development, and tried to focus too much on the exploration and moving throughout the world. But here’s the thing. While the mobility can be extremely fun, like grabbing on to the top of trees and sending yourself forward like a rocket or hovering in the air as a UFO, it gets incredibly boring fast. So fast, that I was having fun for all of 10 minutes before things already began falling into a repetitious pattern.
One of the major negatives about the entire experience is that Luffy is the only playable character. In a game featuring several well-known and recognizable stars of the anime, it’s an odd design choice to make Luffy the only one we get to take for a spin around the block. Yes, the world may have been designed with him in mind and the way he is able to make use of certain mechanics to quickly get around, but let’s be honest. The open world isn’t that big, and it isn’t even that open.
The only things to do throughout the game besides the main story missions and side missions are to find treasure chests, of which there are a handful in each area. Besides that, there isn’t anything else of importance to be found, and certain areas of the map serve zero purpose. If you never go there, that’s okay! Because there isn’t anything there anyway. It felt as if so much real estate was wasted and that the treasure chests would be enough to keep gamers engaged besides the missions. I was left scratching my head wondering what else there was to do in the game, because it was very shallow and empty.
Gameplay exists in the following pattern. You’ll traverse the world moving to the next mission point on the map. Along the way, if you see a treasure chest, you may decide to head on over to it and wait through the lengthy amount of time it takes to open each chest. If you see things sparkling in the grass, you might grab those too. But it isn’t necessary, as everything felt like an afterthought. There are enemies spread out throughout the world. While on your way to a mission area, you can kill them, or you can skip them. Combat is incredibly easy. There are stealth mechanics if you don’t feel like fighting, or you can just run in and take out most enemies in two or three hits.
Speaking of the combat, it’s based on a combo system with two different modes of attacking. In observation mode, Luffy is able to quickly move around his opponents while attacking, but they don’t do as much damage. It’s good for when you’re out moving throughout the world from one mission to the next. Armament mode is designed for the tougher encounters and boss battles, as you move slower, but Luffy has access to a shield and his attacks do a sizable amount more damage. But now we’re back to being repetitive. Combat gets dull after just a few battles, as nothing new is ever really introduced to keep you engaged.
The missions you undertake throughout the fifteen or so hours it takes to complete the game are heavy on fetch quests, and while that particular style doesn’t bother me as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews and discussions, some people cannot stand fetch quests so it’s worth mentioning. There are a decent amount of side missions as well to try and keep things from feeling so monotonous, but it doesn’t work as well as it was intended to.
Different costumes can be unlocked toward the end of the game to customize Luffy and squeeze a bit more fun out of it.. but they are literally unlocked at the tail end of the game when it almost doesn’t even matter to customize your character. Once I realized this was included, I was left wondering why the team didn’t at least let you customize Luffy with a handful of different costumes early on in the game, and then save some of the more iconic or cooler looking ones for the end game. Stuffing them all at the end was just another bizarre design choice that One Piece World Seeker is littered with. Bizarre design choices left and right.
One of the biggest things World Seeker gets right and does well is the graphics and animation department. The game is a looker and runs incredibly well. It’s able to capture the style and feel of the anime perfectly and it translates so well into the gaming landscape. Had this game actually been fun to play, it could have ended up being one of the better examples of an anime based video game. Just because it looks gorgeous and performs well doesn’t mean it gets a pass though.
There’s definitely fun to be had with One Piece World Seeker. I know it may not seem that way after reading through the review, but trust me when I say fans of the anime are going to get a lot of enjoyment out of this title, even if it gets dull rather quickly. I’m a fan of One Piece, but I’m not a diehard loyalist. The average gamer looking for something fun to play is recommended to seek that elsewhere. Fans of anime, and especially fans of One Piece, you’ll like this even with it’s shortcomings and lack of content to do in the open world.
5.5 / 10