Burly Men at Sea is the second game from husband and wife team Brain&Brain, and it is a freaking delight.
The game has a colorful, storybook style, and you weave the tale of three brothers who find a map and set out for adventure. The player frames the story by clicking and dragging the mouse so that a new scene is in view. The Brothers Beard run along after you, responding fluidly to the movements of the camera.
The game is essentially a side-scrolling point-and-click adventure. You start off discovering a mysterious map that isn’t quite filled in, and then head to town to figure out what exactly that’s all about.
Burly Men At Sea looks like a beautiful picture book. It helps that the scene is limited to what’s inside the circle of view, while the rest of the screen is clean and white like the page of a book. The art is colorful and symmetrical, inspired by Scandanavian illustration. Soft, jaunty music plays as you walk around, and I couldn’t help bopping to the tune as I played. Nor could I keep the smile off my face.
Clicking on objects lets you interact with them. In this demo interactions were mostly limited to speaking with non-player characters, but David and Brooke Condolora, the team behind Burly Men, told me that interactivity is definitely going to be part of the final game. Spaces for interacting with things around the town were clearly in place; the action just wasn’t there yet.
What was there was a lot of charming dialogue. Burly Men at Sea is a story focused on adventure and choices. As the narrator of their story, you decide where the story goes next. The first choice comes soon after sailing from port, after your tiny ship is unceremoniously swallowed by a whale.
One option involves taking the fast way out (getting whale-spouted right out of the belly of the beast). The other involves calmly waiting around a campfire with some strange nymphs until the whale reaches its destination.
I loved so much about this choice. For one, choosing the fast way out means you get to dress the burly men up in barrel outfits, and that’s adorable. But it gives you a sense of how your role as narrator will affect the story; the two outcomes were certain to be very different. I almost went out the spout, but after some deliberation I settled by the fire and was rewarded with an adorable ending. The whale arrives at its final destination, opens its great maw, and all passengers are asked to please disembark with their luggage.
The demo was short and sweet, and it made me excited for the rest of Burly Men at Sea. This game was thoroughly charming and beautifully animated. It will be released for PC and Mac, as well as iOS. I’m more excited about the iOS release than anything. The simple action of dragging the frame around the screen will feel great on a touchscreen, as will the other interactions.
Burly Men at Sea comes out later this year.