Available on: PC, iOS, Android
We played on: iOS
After taking a peek at Burly Men at Sea during PAX West, I was really excited for its release. After playing the full game I can say that I certainly wasn’t disappointed. This charming tale about three fisherman with massive beards is very much a “choose your own adventure” story brought to life, and it’s highly entertaining.
Story and Gameplay
As the name suggests you play as a trio of “Burly” men all with gigantic beards. So gigantic in fact that you can’t see anything but a tiny sliver of their faces. Brave Beard, Hasty Beard and Steady Beard are fishermen who are thrown for a loop when they discover a map while out at sea one day. Since their lives are pretty dull, the thought of adventure is intriguing to them. They return to their town to see if anyone knows anything about the map, but sadly no one does (or do they?) So they get back in their ship and are soon swallowed by a giant whale. That’s when things get interesting.
Just like a classic “choose your own adventure” novel, you’re given a set of choices that will dictate how the story goes. This is the bulk of the gameplay, simply making a choice. There are some small puzzle elements in the game, but they’re very simple and not likely to slow you down. Each playthrough of the game only gives you a handful of choices to make, which means each outing is fairly short. I liked this a lot. It made going back out to make different choices much more palatable knowing I wasn’t going to have to spend a lot of time to get an alternate experience.
The story itself is really fun with good dialogue and some interesting characters. Throughout their travels the men can encounter some nymphs who live inside the belly of a whale who they also worship, a grim reaper who’s depressed about his job, and a giant rock monster who just wants to give you flowers. Which of these characters you’ll run into depends on your choices. Choosing one path will mean that you don’t see some of the other characters at all. Once you’ve reached the end of your path, you’re greeted by a wispy kind of seahorse-looking creature who lauds you for making new choices. Then you find yourself back at the town you started in.
Burly Men at Sea hasn’t been rated by the ESRB. The Apple store gives a rating of 9+. As far as content goes, I think that’s a little much. I didn’t find anything in the game objectionable. However you do need to know how to read to play the game.
I really, really liked this game. It’s the perfect type of game to simply relax with. The dialogue and the sense of humor were great. The burly men, themselves are pretty entertaining, but some of the other characters were even more so. My favorite was the grim reaper. Burly Men at Sea is funny, fun and short. Typically short games aren’t well-liked, but the length is perfect for what it is. It’s easy to pick up, play through making different choices and put down again. The art style fits perfectly with the whimsical charm of the game, and the whole package makes for a really great gaming experience.