Sail Forth

Review: Sail Forth and Maelstrom DLC

It was over a decade ago that ship control and combat truly “clicked” for many gamers, myself included.

Assassin’s Creed Black Flag was that game. Since then, gems like Sea of Thieves have picked up that mantle and been very successful.

Sail Forth is the latest in this high seas saga of titles. It may not be a brand new game, but its new DLC, Maelstrom, definitely brings some fresh elements to the sometimes chill, sometimes intense ship adventure.

I played both for the first time, and I have to say that my experience was filled with wonder, laughter, and excitement!

Sail Forth, My Friends!

The game begins with your character on a small vessel stranded out at sea. You discover another fellow traveller in a similar situation. Moments later, you’re both on board a ship, complete with working sails and all.

As Captain Toot, you’ll be sailing from one set of islands to the next, uncovering relics of the past, helping the other characters throughout the lands, and fighting off pirate ships. There’s a ton to do, and most of it clicks pretty well, with some story beats in between that move things forward.

But even without an overarching story to keep things tight and together, the chill and sometimes slower nature of Sail Forth still felt rewarding. The Deepblue is a much bigger place than I expected; navigating it and doing so effectively is where this game will either hook you or sink you like an anchor.

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Anchors Up!

As I mentioned, Sail Forth gets moving pretty quickly. The tutorial is minimal, but that’s okay.

You’ll control your vessel’s sails with the LB and RB buttons on your controller and face buttons to bring the sails up and down, depending on the wind and situation you find yourself in. This is where the game felt surprisingly deep.

Sail Forth isn’t here to give you a problematic gameplay experience, but making your way across the Deepblue isn’t as simple as forward and backward momentum. Wind changes and large waves will approach, so you need to adjust your sails and crew.

I found this to add to the experience when pirates were mere metres away, and I needed to speed up, slow down, or make tighter turns to fire off or dodge cannons.

Sail Forth has all these systems at play, but deciding how to approach each scenario is up to you.

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The map is also an exciting mechanic that works well in both the main game and the Maelstrom DLC. You’ll navigate to different island clusters, shooting down pirates, finding treasures, and helping fellow travellers. Regardless of what I chose to do, I usually came across a piece of the map that opened the world up to me and allowed me to discover this new area.

The bonus to this semi-open-world map is that you can immediately fast-travel to this new region. Sure, you can sail there, but the fast travel option is there from the get-go, and it was a welcome surprise.

On top of all this, recruiting new members and expanding your fleet is a blast. After just a few short hours, there becomes a lot more to manage and do. But just like the sailing mechanics, this adds welcome depth to a game that otherwise could have been bare bones and included less involved systems.

Getting Deeper With Sail Forth: Maelstrom

While my journey through the base game had its fair share of chill and exciting moments, the stakes in the DLC released to kick off 2024 felt a bit higher.

With Maelstrom, whirlwind-like portals are opening up across the map, taking you into a new dimension. “Colossal vortexes emerge to reshape the seas so many players have come to love.”

Here, you’ll also find the Arcane Order. Like others in Sail Forth, this group oversees this previously unmarked area of the Deepblue and will offer rewards for exploration and discoveries.

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It’s a fun time to be able to explore new areas. Even though I didn’t pick this game back up after its initial release, I still found the fresh ideas, landscapes, and characters entertaining. I’ll leave the details of the overarching story here for you to discover, but just like the base game, I found how it’s told and who you interact with to be very enjoyable.

Sail Forth: Maelstrom also expands on your customization options. This was never a massive part of my playthrough with Sail Forth, but I enjoy some tinkering. If it is your bag, there’s more fun stuff to work with here to help you set sail on your way.

Verdict

I found my time with Sail Forth and its new DLC Maelstrom a very charming experience.

There’s more depth to the controls and ship battles than I had expected, adding a more involved aspect to a game that is otherwise relatively easygoing and simplified.

The art style is charming, as well as the characters. Plus, the ease of use of the map and menu system goes a long way in making both the base game and the DLC worth your time.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PC

 

Sail Forth
Review: Sail Forth and Maelstrom DLC
Summary
Charming and exciting, Sail Forth and its new DLC Maelstrom are great! If you're looking for a fun, but lower stakes open world approach, look no further.
Liked
Challenging but fun sailing mechanics
Great art style
Fun and often hilarious characters
Great map and fast travel system
Didn't Like
Easy to get caught in battles your not prepared for early on