REVIEW: Shipwreck

Ten minutes into Shipwreck ($1.00), right in the middle of the first dungeon that plays like a tutorial, and you’ll be saying ‘Man, the Zelda is strong with this one.’ This is more than just a cheap opening statement. Other indies, like EvilQuest, have nailed the visuals and basic presentation just as well, but Shipwreck is the first I’ve played to genuinely feel like it could be a true game from the series it adores.

The plot, too, smacks of something familiar. Your ship is disintegrated in a sudden and mysterious storm, leaving you marooned on an island that won’t let you leave. Very Lost-esque, in that regard, or, in fact, similar to the storyline of Link’s Awakening. Much the same as that title put Link on an island and ditched the once-staple Zelda words and characters (no Triforce, no true Ganon), so too does Shipwreck craftily re-label the familiar (gold coins replace rupees, apples over hearts, etc.).

Not that the game shies away from the correlations. This is a respectful homage, but one that veers dangerously-close to ‘clone’ (because it’s so good) in certain instances. Luckily for developer Brushfire Games, the entire game is fantastically done, so you won’t much care or assign any blame. Gameplay is thus equally fluent. The protagonist is given a sword to start, and you acquire a shield soon after. You can equip two items at once, and the toolset you’ll accumulate over the course of the journey is old hat to any Hyrulean superfan (crossbow, lantern). So far, so Link.

The overworld of this island is beautiful, but smaller in size and not as thrilling. You have the requisite chatty villagers, homes to rummage through, and a mayor asking you to rid the land of a vengeful ghost (the cause of said storms), collect the four elemental seals, so on and so forth. Other than the town proper, where you can stay at the inn to heal your wounds or purchase portable recovery items (this will be necessary) the overworld is mostly used as a walkabout to separate you from the meat of the game— its excellent dungeons.

Here the game excels, offering up cleverly-designed levels that mimic the puzzles, the layout, and the feel (yes, I’m saying it again), of Nintendo’s best. You’ll throw switches, trigger spikes, find keys, fight pesky foes in near-darkness, hell, even purposely-plummeting to lower floors to access otherwise inaccessible areas is faithfully-reproduced in Shipwreck‘s labyrinths. And it’s great. Really great.

Shipwreck - Screen

‘Go ahead and get inside the creepy lighthouse, kid. I’ll stand guard out here.’

So much so, that you won’t mind some of the ho-hum boss fights, or lament the absence of an overworld map, or better tracking of locked doors and objectives in the dungeons (some confusing moments, but it’s all minor stuff, I promise you). Counting the extended tutorial and the final showdown at the lighthouse, it makes for six unique dungeons in all. That’ll equate to about three and a half hours of adventuring for most, and if you’re like me, you’ll wish it went on for longer.

Which is the very thing you want to hear about a game and its overall level of satisfaction. Everything in Shipwreck looks, feels, and sounds (Catchy soundtrack? Check!) authentic, and the love it shows towards the source material is evident. So lap it up, ladies and gents. This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to a Legend of Zelda game on Xbox, and I can’t imagine it being any better than this.


Review on Indie Gamer Chick

Review on Game Bias

28 thoughts on “REVIEW: Shipwreck”

  1. It’s about time we got a genuine punt at a Zelda-like game on Xbox. I never understood why XBLIG didn’t have dozens of them, and until now the closest I’d seen was フェナックむら ものがたり which is about 20 minutes long.

    Thanks for saving me from missing this one. I don’t watch XBLIG as closely as I used to (I’m semi-retired from journo-ing) so it slipped right past me.

    1. Yeah, it’s been disheartening to see less videos from you. All those PC roguelikes have kept me out of the conversation due to my shitty PC specs, but that golden-voiced commentary of yours was reason enough to watch. Goddamn life and other circumstances keeping us all from doing the things we want, although you’ve got a more demanding crowd on there.

      My pleasure on Shipwreck. 🙂 Strange that it’s not done more often, but I’ll take the quality releases like this one. Really feels like a vintage Zelda with those dungeon designs, and that’s not something I ever expected to say on this site (I’ve got sky-high respect for the series).

    2. The main reason I’ve cut back on videos is because I’m sick of people bitching at me about playing badly. Sucks all the fun out of it.

      I want to get back to writing more anyway. I prefer it, it’s just that writing reviews is more time consuming. I can record and edit a video in half an hour, then just leave it to render. A written review, on the other hand, generally takes 2-3 hours to write/edit and then maybe 30-40 minutes to post (with formatting, images, etc).

    3. Incidentally, if you have any interest in PC roguelikes, most of them are ridiculously undemanding and will run on pretty much anything. You could probably port the original Rogue to a graphical calculator. Hell, someone probably already has.

    4. That’s what I was going to say, but I thought demanding would sound less harsh. 🙂 Really is funny, in a way, to watch / read other people’s remarks on various gaming sites and channels. Some are constructive about it, but a majority just want to nitpick and start a war over consoles / games / pop culture, etc., or criticize the writer / commentator. Oh well. Some people just want to watch the world burn, I guess.

      None of that here! We’re all a bunch of fine gentlemen, talking games and keeping it civil whenever disagreements arise. 🙂

      I was getting into watching WazHack and those longer runs you’d put together, although I’m pretty sure my computer would laugh and shut down on me if I attempted it. Survivor Squad looked interesting as well. That’d probably be my best bet for running a game smoothly. One of these years (I say this every year), I’ll blow some money on a stronger setup. I’m sad I keep missing out on all these games, not to mention the constant Steam sales. Then again, I’d have to come up with more time to play all of them. I’m a Console Boy, too, and proud of it!

      Agreed on the writing. I’m much better in the written form than firing off a commentary. I’m lucky to have picked a scene known for its (mostly) bite-sized games, and for (trying) to limit reviews to 500 words or less. No way I could maintain a somewhat-steady update rate otherwise.

    5. Survivor Squad is pretty good but it’s not ideal for on-camera action. It doesn’t tell you much about how to play. There are a surprising number of hidden gems on Desura. It’s what I’m turning to as XBLIG starts to fade. It’s also less of a resource hog than Steam is.

      WazHack has a free demo on Desura, so you could try it and see if it runs on your rig. It’s designed to be playable on phones, so it’s not as demanding as it might look.

      Steam is definitely a danger. I’ve bought so many games on there that I haven’t even started playing. One day, Steam. One day.

    6. Wow. If it can run on phones, then it may, I’m stressing may, run on my PC. My whole problem is, I have no graphics cards or hardware acceleration of any kind. I bought it back when I had zero inclination to play anything on PC (that whole Console Boy thing). Things change, of course, and my PC did not. Sure, I could add onto it and up its capabilities, though at this point, I’m better off investing in a new one.

      At any rate, you’ve given me hope. I’ll have to get a Desura account, as you’re right; lot of different avenues for finding good indie games.

    7. Alan nice to see you around. I still stop in on the Indie Ocean from time to time to see if you started reviewing again. I really miss watching you play. I always get a kick out of it. Your Let’s Play series was epic.

    8. Watching him play Goolin convinced me to play the trial till I was able to figure out what craziness it actually was/is. LOL

      In fact before his series on that I don’t think I ever heard the term Epic fail and now it’s mainstream…..HMmmmmmmm? LOL

    9. Preface : Sorry for the long soapbox rant but I respect both of you, and value your opinions, and I see this stuff ALL the time on Greenlight / YouTube and never say a single thing and it eats me up a little inside every time and now you two (sort of) think it… So… Here it is:

      “Hey, this can run on a PHONE so it MUST be able to run on my ancient under-powered laptop with no dedicated graphics processor, right? RIGHT?!?! If not then you guys must suck at programming! Learn to code newbs!” <= OK so that’s not what you said but it’s what MOST people say when they make that sort of comment on GL / YT.

      Well, considering that my Galaxy S3 has a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor and some reasonable 3D acceleration… Yeah, saying something will work on a phone isn’t any sort of guarantee that the same game will have reasonable performance on older under powered PCs. Especially if they lack any sort of dedicated graphics hardware.

      Now, I’m not saying you need a $600 graphics card to run these sorts of games, far from it! But you definitely NEED to have something that isn’t 6 years old and built onto the motherboard. Any modern graphics card in the $50 range should be good enough. Heck, if it is less than 4 years old and has a fan on it then it’s probably good enough. However, I can guarantee that if you have an older laptop and it says “Intel graphics” on it, that’s not going to work. I know, because that’s the sort of laptop I have and it runs my meager game at around 30 FPS and that’s not good enough for most people. I guess I should learn to code!

      Also, you can replace “can run on a PHONE” for any of the following:

      -Looks like a FLASH game
      -Looks good… for an EARLY 90s game
      -Lacks the ever important extra D that makes games insta-good (eg: it’s 2D) (Yes I know WazHack is 3D, I’ve watched some of your videos)

      OK, rant over, sorry about that. I know you guys don’t think like the GL & YT haters. I just wanted to say that so many times and… Eh… Just sorry.

      PS: Alan, I hear you about being sick of people complaining about your work. It sucks:

      You : “Hey, I created this thing for you all, check it out!”
      Them : “Boo! Your thing sucks! How DARE you create things for us!”

      Speaking as a person who’s had random strangers hate all over his work, you just have to ignore those people and keep doing what makes you happy. Don’t like the comments? Turn them off on every video, or just ignore them, or just ignore the haters. As they say, haters gonna hate. You should feel sorry for their little black hateful hearts.

      Also, I always find it fun to look at their profile and see what amazing things they’ve done. 99% of the time it’s…. NOTHING! Why? Because (most) people who’ve done things know how hard it is and know that it sucks to be dumped on for no reason. Constructive criticism is one thing. Just complaining with no insight or reasoning? It’s a useless waste of energy.

      Also, that one person who truly likes what you do and tells you about it? Yeah, it makes it all worth while.

    10. Interesting, reported min spec GPU is nVidia GeForce 210, which is a $35 card (with a fan!) so it definitely won’t break the bank. Recommended GPU is not available in stores, but the comparable GeForce GT 640 costs $100, and it’s about 5 times “better”.

    11. @NVO Games: No apology needed, good sir. Make the internet a better place! Consider the comments section a ‘soapbox’ or whatever fits the mood. I like that it’s a lawless sort of land where anyone is open to saying whatever. So long as no one’s organizing a Meth deal or discussing tips for body disposal, have at it.

      @Alan & NVO Games: $35 isn’t bad at all, but it does show I’m outside the minimum range for it. I’m still surprised I was able to run the Chasm demo last year, but that (thankfully) only required XNA. My phone ABSOLUTELY is more powerful than my PC, and that’s… yeah, it’s definitely sad.

      I’m with Alan, as far as looking to others on the PC end of things. I’ve always been well-behind on the times in that end of the market, so naturally my computer hardware suffers for it. I just repeat my oft-repeated line of ‘Eventually I’ll get a better computer.’ 🙂

    12. Tim that is the trend. More and more people are using computers (in the traditional sense) less and less. My job gives a look at that when over half my callers either say they are turning on an old computer they barely use or they don’t have a computer at all and use some other means to access the internet. We live in a mobile world these days for sure.

    13. Oh yeah, for sure. I guess I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I use my computer everyday. Of course, I’m doing more writing on a daily basis than the average person, so it’s easier to use a keyboard than a virtual one. But when you’ve got a phone that can almost do everything, why turn on anything else?

      Even from a ‘gaming’ standpoint, imagine the people that would’ve never even considered playing a videogame, but now play Angry Birds or Candy Crush Trademark like an addict.

    14. @Tim Hurley: That’s good because I got on another soapbox in the Nick Gravelyn interview 🙂

      @ImTheMetalLord: NOOOOOooooooooooooo! Please say it isn’t so!!!!! Just kidding. I totally recommend people either don’t get a PC anymore or that they just get a laptop. Of course part of my evil plan is that I can just tell them to take their tablet to the Apple store when something goes wrong, rather than have me come over and fix their PC.

      Oh, and I’m a relic, I don’t even have a tablet! OH NOES! I also game in the living room, on my TV, connected to my PC, on my wireless keyboard and mouse, while sitting on my couch. FOR SHAME!

  2. A little late, but thanks to the very generous crew over at Brushfire Games, I have secured some codes (2) for Shipwreck. If you’re interested (and you should be), simply reply to this comment.

    1. Oh, “the first to reply to this comment”, its been a while since I used the service, kinda miss it. I want one of those lad.

    2. Avast mateys….
      Wait, there be a rock!

      Looks like we are, SHIPWRECKED.
      Please sir, and thank you.

  3. I see Hurley… I see, so this game is actually good. Mmmm, 2 good games in a row, if memory serves right, everything from here forward will be boobs games. I will pick this one up, and I also heard there’s PC so there’s a chance I will go with that one, you know, I will have the game forever. I really wanted to play the new Zelda on 3DS but because I dont got one this is the closest thing I will get. Althouh I think you are the 1st person that when think of a 2D Zelda think of Link’s Awakening, I never play that one, is that the Gameboy one? The reference of a 2D Zelda is always A Link To The Past for SNES. Anyway, it really seem like a good game that worth the 3 bucks. It is a clone, but a clone that you not see often in the service. Good review boyo.

    1. Thank you, sir. Probably ‘A Link to the Past’ is the ‘big one’, along with ‘Ocarina of Time’, when people talk about favorites. Both classics, and the recent ‘A Link Between Worlds’ will likely get that label too, if it hasn’t already. ‘Link’s Awakening’ is less-played, I think, and yeah, that was on the original GameBoy. I didn’t play that one, though I did pick it up on the GameBoy Color, when they added… yep… color, and slapped a DX on the end of the title. I’ve never -not- had a good time with any Zelda game released. It’s like the Mario games; pretty much a guaranteed win. I almost bought a Wii U a few weeks ago just based on that love.

      As for Shipwreck, it’s also available on PC as you said, and probably Steam as well at some future point in time. It’s really a terrific example of Zelda, and the dungeons easily make this a recommendation. I love the overall mythos of Zelda and its world, though I’m a sucker for clever dungeons and puzzles. Nothing too heavy, just smart design, and Shipwreck has that in abundance.

      And you jinxed us with the ‘boob games’ prophecy! Now we have Avalis Dungeon 3 and Vixenized for new releases.

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