I often enjoy playing console games alone. When I play games online I tend to mute my mic and everyone else in the lobby. I just don’t enjoy talking to strangers during my leisure time, nor do I like hearing them scream at each other. Something I did a lot during the pandemic was play crazy difficult roguelite and roguelike games. I would spend hours and hours repeating the phrase, “Okay Wade, one more run” to myself under my breath. Of course, it was never just one more run. Ship of Fools seemed like a great fit for me because I have spent so much time in the past playing games like it. However, Ship of Fools made me think something none of these games got me to think “…this would be even more fun with someone else.”
My roommate and I had an absolute BLAST playing Ship of Fools. We would earnestly congratulate each other when we did well. We would scream at each other when we fucked up or got killed. It made us feel all the strong emotions any good co-operative game should make you feel.
Ship of Fools is a roguelite delight. You play one of the many castaways who have washed ashore on one of the many, many, MANY islands in the sea. Each run starts on the same island, “The Great Lighthouse.” This place acts as a hub world. Here you can buy upgrades for your boat, guns, and passive effects. When you are ready to go, you walk onto the boat and set sail.
The core gameplay loop consists of sailing through different biomes, shooting wildlife, die, repeat. Each run is randomly generated so you can never be fully prepared for the next run. You can pick which direction you go every time. Some spots get you planks of wood to repair your ship when it is damaged. Other spots allow you to pick up tendrils which is one of the main currencies in Ship of Fools. Tendrils are used to upgrade your boat at the various stores near The Great Lighthouse. You often only get one tendril at a time, so it’s always worth to get tendrils if the opportunity presents itself. Along the way, you can land on small islands with vendors and secrets. If you’re lucky, you can find some hidden objects on these islands. The first character I unlocked was in a box I smashed with my ore on some random island. It’s always worth going out of your way to explore these little checkpoints along your journey.
But Ship of Fools isn’t just about sailing and exploring, it’s about killing thousands of hostile marine life! As you sail the sea, you are bombarded with a load of different aquatic enemies ambushing you from all angles. Big ass flies that give birth to smaller flies, slugs that launch themselves onto your boat, squids, giant tentacles, exploding pufferfish, amphibians who use lily pads for stealth. The list goes on! Some enemies take one hit to kill, but most of them take a flurry of hits to go down. You can attack creatures from afar with your cannon, or smack enemies up close with your ore. Upgrading your cannons is paramount to your success. There are a myriad of cannons to unlock and use on your boat. Each type is worth using if you pump enough upgrades into them. Each playable castaway not only look different, but they each have a unique passive. Finding which castaway matches your playstyle is a fun challenge in itself. I enjoy playing Shelbie the most, but I relate SO personally to Krillstoph. The characters are funny to look at and well designed!
Ship of Fools is an absolute joy to play. It’s my personal favourite game that Team17 has brought us. Overcooked is fun to play at parties, but struggles as a solo experience. Ship of Fools is fun to play on the couch with your roommate after having some drinks or jazz cigarettes. It’s also a terrific time playing alone. I really, really enjoyed my time with Ship of Fools and absolutely can’t recommend it enough.