Review: Naval Warfare (PC)

4 mins read

Naval Warfare doesn’t play very well on my laptop. That a game struggles on this hardware is not too surprising – I’m hardly running with a powerhouse here, but the fact that such a simple game doesn’t feature options to get as many people playing as possible is an astounding design decision.

Given that I’m able to comfortably play far more complex games like Napoleon Total War, King Arthur and Mount & Blade means the developers were evidently shooting for a premium product with this game. The content is a bit thin for that to really work, though, and given this is a game that is designed for casual PC players (such as myself), then a basic visual setting would have been welcome.
One of the prettiest horde games ever

It’s a basic horde game. You’re a little ship facing wave after wave of increasingly more difficult enemy ships, and you need to use a range of weapons as well as your skill to defeat them. It’s an entertaining formula that has worked with games in the past, and it works here. The ship controls well thanks to the mouse, and there’s certainly a good variety of enemy ships to deal with. The basic gunships go down easily enough, but it doesn’t take long for boats with tricky defences or nasty weaponry to pop up.

This basic formula works across two different game modes – there’s a skirmish survival mode, which is your typical ‘keep going until you die’ deal. Then there’s the campaign game, which is much the same, but with some objectives and (good looking) cut scenes to tell a basic story. Really though, the story mode is unnecessary for this kind of game, and longer term it’s the survival game that will provide more value, with the high scores to shoot for and the like.

There’s also some good multiplayer options available in addition to the single player games. And Naval Warfare looks really, really good. The water effects are impressive and the weapons are stylish and have real impact. It’s unusual for a horde game to have this kind of effort put into it.

Despite the struggle that my laptop had in playing this game, I enjoyed myself. It’s a frantic game with a finely tuned difficulty curve. The levels are well designed; for those five minute bursts of arcade fun, this is a great solution.

Not again!

So the game itself might not be a breakaway work of creative ingenuity, but it works well. It’s just that you need a good PC to run it. It’s a good lesson for indie developers to take note of – offering options for people with less advanced setups is a good idea. It’s great that the developers have paid such attention to the visuals and design of their game, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of playability. The reason the likes of Frozen Synapse and Dwarfs?! are so appealing is because anyone can play them, with no fuss or setup, and there is no reason this shouldn’t be the same. An update to add in those lo-fi options would be welcomed greatly. 

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