The Pipeline: A Pirate's Life For Me In Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler! | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Pipeline: A Pirate's Life For Me In Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler!

Sailing the seas in this point and click adventure game.

Posted By on October 25, 2016, 12:00 PM

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Back when I was a kid, my friend had a pirate ship. Granted, it was a low-level treehouse that they tossed a Jolly Roger on after their mom found a bunch of discount pirate stuff at the old Dollar Store—but who cares, we were imaginative kids in a landlocked state. One of the biggest arguments that came up was who the captain should be, because the captain decided the adventures you would eventually encounter in the small forest of his backyard—and it usually ended up being the kid who lived there. One day we threw a mutiny, locked him in the brig (firewood storage) and sailed forth, only for the neighbors to "sink the ship" with his help after 30 minutes. Next month it was an army base, but you get the picture. Those memories I thought lost to age and alcohol were rekindled after playing Alliance Digital Media's latest point and click adventure game: Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler!

click to enlarge Me thinks proper modern English hasn't made it to this part of the world yet. - ALLIANCE DIGITAL MEDIA
  • Alliance Digital Media
  • Me thinks proper modern English hasn't made it to this part of the world yet.

Developed by Venture Moon, the game puts you in the boots of Duke Grabowski, the strongman of a pirate crew that just lost its handsome, debonair captain at sea, and is now charged with picking a new one. When Duke throws his sword into the pile, the crew laugh him off for his lack of smarts, which doesn't sit too well with him. One of the crewmen offers him a challenge to woo three women to prove he's as good with the ladies as the last captain, and off you go into your adventure. The game plays a lot like later versions of King's Quest, where you ask a lot of questions to figure out what's happening around town, leaving you to put the puzzle together of what you'll need to do to accomplish your goals.

click to enlarge Even in pirate days, the firemen looked hot. - ALLIANCE DIGITAL MEDIA
  • Alliance Digital Media
  • Even in pirate days, the firemen looked hot.

The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward, relying primarily on your interactions and memory to get through several challenges. In the first town, for example, there's a section where you can wrestle a bear to impress people, but in order to wrestle the bear, you need a fight ticket. You can't get a fight ticket from the woman running the show, because she doesn't like you and needs to be bribed, which you can do with the crown of the would-be princess in the crowd. It's pretty easy to put two and two together as to what you need to do to accomplish your goals, but there's a ton of dialogue you need to wait through to get to it. Almost like the mini trading game in the Legend Of Zelda series, one thing will lead to the next thing until you get what you want. And while this can be cool at times, very often it becomes an unbearable chore as you end up needing to do multiple things over the course of a couple hours just to achieve one major goal.



click to enlarge If this is the crew I have to deal with, scurvy will be a godsend. - ALLIANCE DIGITAL MEDIA
  • Alliance Digital Media
  • If this is the crew I have to deal with, scurvy will be a godsend.

The controls for Duke Grabowski are basic, but proved to be a pain in the ass on multiple occasions. As with any point and click, you'll need to navigate around the screen and choose how to interact with objects and people. All too often I'd click on a person to speak with them, only to find it taking me to an object, and getting some off phrase about how "fruit stands aren't very talkative." Or I'd try to pull off some kind of sneaky interaction, only to be caught in a conversation I already had. It doesn't help matters that a lot of the voice acting in the game feels forced or out of place. One minute you'll be talking with someone who has a hint of a Spanish accent, and the next, another character will chime in with an American hick dialect. Most everyone in the game speaks perfect English (which isn't a knock against the game), but the accents and the presentation just throw everything off and make you question what direction the voice cast was given.

click to enlarge Another Tinder date gone to waste. - ALLIANCE DIGITAL MEDIA
  • Alliance Digital Media
  • Another Tinder date gone to waste.

At face value, the graphics look pretty good, until you see someone speak. The mouths move at the rate of a late '90s PC game, or a PS2 character trying to speak. The mouth just flaps open with little reason to the movement. Every time you speak with someone, text will appear on the screen in case you're not listening well, but even those graphics get messed up with textures and shadowing scattered in wrong places. The music is well done and fits a lot of the scenes and interactions well, making it the one major standout from the game that was a genuine pleasure. But everything else screams "rushed." It's the kind of game you could tell was either started late and pushed forward quickly, or was on track to be finished until the release date was pushed up. Either way, this game feels like it's only 90 percent complete. 

click to enlarge I feel like I'm walking through a Disneyland set. - ALLIANCE DIGITAL MEDIA
  • Alliance Digital Media
  • I feel like I'm walking through a Disneyland set.

Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler! isn't a terrible game. It has a lot of good things going for it, and would probably make for a decent title for kids if there weren't so many innuendo jokes thrown about. If the voice acting were a little more refined, the graphics cleaned up a bit, and the game design tweaked to be more responsive, this would be a really cool title. Truly, all this game needs is a spit polish and a couple game tests, and it would be much better. But the glaring mistakes make it hard to take it seriously beyond face value. If you love point and click adventures, this is at least worth a test run on Steam. Otherwise, wait for news on updates and fixes before purchasing.

click to enlarge 2_star.jpg

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