One of the most famous seafaring and commercial sagas of the video game universe makes its return with its latest chapter. Kalypso Media has made a fairly courageous choice by focusing on a genre that is not very popular in this period. Did the developers properly reward the game with interesting features and enhancements, or is it just another addition to the saga? Hoist anchor and set sail, here is my Port Royale 4 review on PC.
This new chapter, just like the previous ones, is set in the Caribbean, the place that gave birth to the golden years of piracy. In Port Royale 4, you will play the role of a young governor ready to conquer the oceans. Kalypso Media and Gaming Minds divided the game into two main game modes: campaign and free play. These game modes are accompanied by the usual tutorial that is divided into smaller sections.
Once you complete the tutorial, you will be able to access a new ship. The developers also divided the campaign into 4 parts, one for each nation in the game: Spain, England, France, and Holland. Each will give you different goals ranging from trade to conquest. Although it seems very similar, if not identical to the previous chapters, there are enormous differences with the latter.
The first difference is the four characters included in this saga: the Adventurer, the Merchant, the Buccaneer, and the Pirates. Each of these will have very important advantages that will allow you to progress in the game depending on your style of play. You can then choose whether to trade or deal with merchant and military convoys.
Your choice of character will influence your experience, so pay close attention. It will also be possible to select your own nation. The map has also undergone intense rework. Another major difference is that you now have a single screen that allows you to navigate, trade, and build structures at the same time. This feature has led to an excessive increase in the environment and the system itself suffers.
Such a large map, while it brings some advantages, on the other hand leaves me with mostly disadvantages. A vast world clearly implies more resources to manage, but the cities are now less populated, almost deserted, despite having an abundant number of settlers.
The developers even reduced the ships that you will encounter. It will often happen that you navigate in deserted waters, especially if far from the usual commercial routes. To give “lightness” to the game, the developers sacrificed some “secondary” aspects that perhaps are not so secondary. Special events such as epidemics, famines, and pirates that plunder far and wide have also been cut in half. However, you will find an exponential increase in fauna, with parrots flying over forests or cities and various fish swimming in the crystal clear waters.
NAVAL CHESS GAME
The biggest difference is with combat. Lovers of naval battles in real-time will turn up their noses for this new combat system that rewards tactics, but not strategy. In previous chapters, we could choose which cannonballs to buy or even decide whether to board or destroy enemy ships, but now there is no need for this. The ships are in fact equipped with infinite ammunition that will make the clashes somewhat monotonous. However, this is not the only negative. Port Royale 4 is now a turn-based strategy title! This completely takes away the basis of the combat system I am used to.
It is unthinkable to divide a naval battle into turns, but at least the developers have made it somewhat interesting with some small strategies. By completing some missions required by other cities, it will be possible to unlock power-ups that can be used in combat. These power-ups can turn the tide of the battle. You can move ships by one square and hit two or more at the same time. Each sailing ship will have movement points that will allow it to move in the squares, and rotation points that will allow it to rotate and position itself to fire on opponents. In short, Port Royale 4 feels more like a chess game.
Trading is the key to everything and will allow you to dominate the Caribbean. However, there are some more or less intriguing and useful changes. Navigation at sea has had an important change. Kalypso Media and Gaming Minds has implemented tides with attached currents and winds. This provides for faster and slower navigation areas that can change the fate of the trade.
Timing will be fundamental and will allow you to get more or less favorable exchanges. All this implies a fairly careful use of automatic routes. In the latter, in addition to setting the various cities as stops, you can add intermediate stops to avoid areas with negative currents, shallow waters, or the various storms that will affect Caribbean waters.
Previously, it was possible to visit some places to get building permits, loans, or make donations to purchase reinforcements for the city, but this is no longer an option. The tavern was also missing, which was a meeting place for new contracts, pirates, captains, and shady characters with pieces of the map. It is possible to build it, but this is now a whole other task. In the game, your character can also grow and improve. Fame will be your passport to conquer the Caribbean. Through secondary missions, you will get points. Every few points you will earn a fame point that will allow you to unlock bonuses on captains or even structures for the production of goods.
The in-game graphics are something that I need to point out. Getting such a detailed map was no simple task. There are breathtaking views with wonderful sunsets, however, this also has its problems. The landscapes, although made up of fairly simple elements, look great, but the boats, especially the smaller ones, seem somewhat blurry. The storms, which turn out to be huge gray columns, are also disappointing.
The storms of the first chapter seemed much more realistic than these enormous “tornadoes”. Even the camera is not great, with a close view somewhat biased towards the top that prevents you from seeing all the elements. The audio sector, on the other hand, is fantastic. The ambient sounds and background music blends very well, accompanying even the most demanding sessions.
Port Royale 4 differs from its predecessors from all points of view, while maintaining the spirit that characterized the saga. Although there are some additional features, among these there are some that are troubling. One of them is the new turn-based combat mode. In this way, you lose the love for strategy that has characterized the saga throughout the years.
Making money is not immediate, and it will take quite a while to increase your fleet. There is therefore a good level of difficulty regarding growth, however, the “fighting spirit” that one had towards other traders who, in the previous chapters, exponentially increased their structures in a city, has been lost, undermining your hegemony in the production of resources.
The graphics have also undergone a major upgrade. You need not spend a fortune to see a Caribbean sunset. However, although there is this increase, some models are not very clear and there is also a “depopulation” of cities. All this serves to lighten the game, but still leaves something to be desired on the overall quality.
Do you want to try Kalypso Media and Gaming Minds’ Port Royale 4? What do you think of my Port Royale 4 review on PC? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more turn-based strategy games? Check out our reviews for Dread Nautical, Gears Tactics, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, Powargrid, and Popup Dungeon.
Port Royale 4
Port Royale 4 is very monotonous, and the developers have made the only elements that gave a little sparkle in the previous chapters flat. This is therefore not a masterpiece. However, this title is still somewhat a good continuation of the saga.
- Good difficulty
- Characters influence the style of play
- Many gaps in graphics
- Turn-Based Combat
- Characteristic functions removed