Take in that deep breath. Smell that? That salt in your lungs means you’re free. Free to do what you wish, as the powers of government lie behind you. Their long fingers dangle, at best brushing against you, but you slip free with ease. The Last Leviathan wants you to feel the freedom of the sea, at least as long as you understand the laws of physics (no freedom from that). So, being the sort who likes to see how far I can push things when given freedom (so say my editors), I leaped in to preview the title.
The Last Leviathan is a physics-based boat game by Super Punks Games, currently in Early Access. You build a boat using various components, set sail to see if it will even float and then sink other ships just because you can.
Straight off, I was faced with a conundrum. Outside my ability to slap my keyboard around in a loose interpretive dance that could be understood to be game journalism, I am as creative as a sack of bricks. So, faced with an open field of potential boat building possibilities (in a boat creator akin to Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts), I simply didn’t know where to start. Also, the game doesn’t come with presets to learn what makes an okay ship, which isn’t handy. So, well, I was stuck as captain of a non-existent ship.
Fortunately, Steam Workshop is up and running, with users throwing their wacky strange creations onto it. So I picked a couple of ships that might function and leaped into what I thought would be the meat of the game: the gameplay.
There are currently four modes. There is the Creative Mode, if you want to see if your boat can actually stay afloat, and Versus Mode, if you want to pit your two hounds of war against each other in naval-dogfighting. In addition, there is Battle Seas, which lets you take on pirate after pirate until you blow up, and Event, where sometimes the developer puts up a challenge for you to complete (i.e. destroy a ship using a particular ship category or lower).
While on the surface it seems like there’s a lot of gameplay to bite your teeth into, the reality is currently more barren. The maps are more battle-arenas than a land to explore. In addition, the maps are roughly very similar in layout, allowing for open-combat on calm-ish waters with a pleasant breeze. As well as this, you’ll only ever face one ship at a time, except with the option to bomb structures that may fire upon you. It just feels a bit empty.
“Although, emptiness can be fixed,” you may say. “What’s the main gameplay like?” It is good, for what it is. Everything behaves as it should; you can zoom into a canon-view to do precise firing or just blind-fire like a madman while going full speed across the waves. There is a definite satisfaction of mounting a wave, flying through the air and landing, ram first, into the top of a pirate ship.
All this damage from sky-diving and chest-sized canon balls will eventually start to knock away each crate holding your glorified raft together. This can lead to some nefarious targeting, trying to blow up their canons so they can’t shoot back. Despite this, amidst all of your blocks being blown away, you’re never quite sure how close you are to your ship giving up and sinking to the bottom of the sea. It just, well, happens suddenly like the final sigh of breath before the monotone singular beep.
Up to this point I’ve been rambling about canons, but they’re fortunately not your only tool in the gameplay department. You do get the option of using canons, as well as mortars (that fire high and then crash down), flamethrowers or just mounting a large ram to put a hole into your enemy with. Sadly, this is pretty much down to personal preference as there’s mostly no tactics in this endeavour. If you pick one ship or another it wouldn’t matter, just as long as you play it well (with, admittedly, rams having a higher difficulty to them) you’ll get the same results. This also, unfortunately, applies to sails versus propellers, although sails can be a bit more touch-and-go versus the constant satisfaction you’ll receive from a propeller.
As much as I complain about the preview build, overall I had a generally good time. The main weakness it holds is – all together now – “needs more content”. There is a solid base here. With the reveal of monsters (non-ship enemies), Voyage Mode (allowing survivalism and exploration) and (possibly) online multiplayer, there is a lot of promise here. If the idea of building a ship and sinking others with your nefarious creation rubs your fancy pleasingly, then this is definitely worth throwing money at. Just preferably not canon balls made of money into The Last Leviathan‘s ship.