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Seablip Preview

Seablip Preview

Made by solo developer Jardar Solli, Seablip is a 2D pirate RPG where saying “Ahoy!” is as commonplace as breathing. This world is teeming with rogue sailors hoarding plunder, buried treasure chests waiting to be discovered, and large pirate factions vying for control over the sea (with some wreaking more havoc than others). Ahead of its Early Access launch, I had the chance to become the captain of my very own ship and crew, a journey that would lead me to artefact collectors, legendary sea monsters, a dutiful dragon-fighting knight, and even a mischievous monkey causing problems for other sailors.

When it comes to vibes and aesthetics, Seablip is a game that asks the question: “Wouldn’t it be fun if you could be a pirate in Stardew Valley?” It’s quite similar in terms of UI layout, crafting and farming mechanics, and the fact that your grandfather is the one who kick-starts your adventure. But while it clearly draws inspiration from ConcernedApe’s well-loved farming sim, there’s always a seafaring twist, which helps ensure the experience feels like Seablip and not, say, a Stardew pirate DLC.

seablip character creator

The character creator, for example, closely resembles Stardew’s, but it’s filled with pirate-themed customisations — including the classic tricorn hats and long coats — and instead of choosing my ideal farm, I get to pick two starter upgrades for my ship. Then, in the intro, there’s a cutscene where I meet my grandfather (Grandpa William); he turns out to be a seasoned sailor who’s setting off on a secret mission against the Octopus Outlaws, a fleet of pirates who are hunting thousands of whales across the sea.

While Grandpa is busy proving that no one’s too old for a thrilling adventure, it’s time for me to shape my pirate journey, which begins not on water but on land — a small island, to be specific. With a humble cottage, two piers, and plenty of space, there’s definitely potential for it to become a cool stronghold and home. However, after the intro, I was a bit confused about what exactly I was supposed to do there. Grandpa William advised that I build defences on my island and hire guards to protect it from incoming attacks, but the quest log noted that this feature is still under development. The first thing I did instead was check my mailbox, which had vegetable seeds waiting for me, and of course, I promptly began planting and watering them in a Stardew-like fashion.

seablip world map

Farming, though enjoyable and relaxing, isn’t the star of the show in Seablip. Exploration is where it shines. I quickly got busy hiring sailors — who conveniently showed up on my dock asking for work — and with my new crew, I wanted to see where I could sail to. Leaving the island brings you to a world map with clouds obscuring the view around you, and as you control your small ship, those clouds disappear, revealing plain open water, hostile ships sailing toward you, or a new island to visit. I even happened upon treasure or floating sailors waiting for rescue, in some cases. With this being an open world, you can really roam anywhere you please, and so far, discovering new points of interest has been one of my favourite aspects of the game. The rush of curiosity every time a new dock appears from the clouds just doesn’t get old.

In terms of plot and quests, there’s not much to go on just yet — other than a couple of cutscenes involving Grandpa William that seem connected to an overarching storyline. I did pick up various tasks from the islands I visited, such as restoring a Navigator Club with artefacts and delivering a love letter for one of the NPCs. Similar to the initial guard quest, these were noted as “Not ready yet” in the quest log, but I’m excited to see them fleshed out in the future.

seablip island

On the other hand, the ship battles, bounty system, and upgrade system already feel pretty well-developed, even in this early version. If you happen to touch a hostile ship while exploring the world map, you’ll enter combat. These battles involve managing your crew with point-and-click controls to ensure your ship stays afloat while you try to take down the enemy vessel. You’ll ideally have one sailor stationed at the wheelhouse to increase the ship’s speed and thus your ability to evade oncoming attacks. Another sailor will be in charge of dishing out damage, depending on the type of weapon you have, whether that be cannons, explosive barrels, or (one of my favourites) squid balloons. When you have enough gold to buy bigger vessels, you’ll be able to fit more structures on your ship and employ more sailors to run them.

Combat was, honestly, kind of confusing for me during the first couple of battles. Despite the tutorial clearly telling me otherwise, I kept clicking my cannon to attack when I actually needed to select the sailor and then click where I wanted them to aim. If you want to switch a crew member’s spot or direct them to do something, you simply need to select them and click where you want them to go. But I also came to realise that you don’t need to go overboard on the clicking, as your crew doesn’t need a ton of micromanaging; they’ll repair structures and holes automatically, and they’ll fight rogue pirates that find their way onto the ship, for example.

seablip ship battles

With every victory, you have a few options when it comes to dealing with the remnants of your enemy’s vessel. You can either salvage repair parts, loot its upgrades, take the entire boat for yourself, or plunder gold and resources. Additionally, your character and your crew all gain EXP at the end of a battle, and once they level up, you can put ability points into various attributes, such as reload speed, repair speed, luck, and more. Occasionally, you’ll also get the chance to choose special perks. My main character, for instance, is a “Water Expert” and can instantly repair all water breaches, and she’s a “Master of Wheel,” which means our speed is enhanced if she’s commanding the ship's wheel. I found that some perks are actually kind of OP, such as the “Hullbreaching” one that causes cannonballs to immediately punch a hole through any ship on impact; this pauses a lot of incoming damage since the enemy is more preoccupied with repairing their ship than dealing attacks.

While fighting Octopus Outlaws and other pirates can yield great rewards, completing bounty hunts is your ticket to a big payday. When you visit different islands, NPCs will usually let you know of a rogue pirate causing trouble on the seas, such as a lonely Parrot Lord with, you guessed it, bomb-dropping parrots on his ship or perhaps a mythical Kraken that fights with its tentacles. You’ll know you’ve found a bounty target when you come across a vessel with a contract icon floating above it on the world map. Like other fights, you simply have to touch the ship to instigate combat. Most bounties I’ve seen are labelled “Medium” difficulty. However, in this early iteration, I’ve noticed there’s a big jump in difficulty when you go from fighting “Easy” ships to “Medium,” especially when they’re bounties. So I’ve spent a good amount of my playthrough grinding out fights against weaker scallywags to level up my crew and save up gold to buy better ships to give me a fighting chance against those tougher challenges.

seablip whalgrim realm

You will definitely die at some point, but to my surprise, that doesn’t mean you get hit with a “game over” screen and become shark bait. Tapping into that same sense of awe and wonder that you get when exploring the world map, death allows you to unlock an underworld ruled by a whale named Whalgrim. He helps you return to the land of the living on the condition that you find his locker, which was stolen by the army of the dead. Once you return, you’ll have access to a new door that brings you back to Whalgrim and a little bird that moves to your island. Talking to the bird allows you to bring previous crewmembers back to life (for a sum of gold, of course).

All in all, I’ve been having a ton of fun engaging in Seablip’s pirate shenanigans. If you’re looking for an RPG that offers a swashbuckling, seafaring adventure, this might be the one for you. Its Early Access goals include finishing the main story, adding more islands, introducing new mini-games, and much more. You can check it out now on PC via Steam.

Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Staff Writer

Alyssa is great at saving NPCs from dragons. Then she writes about it.

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