For those who have always dreamed of sailing the high seas not as a pirate, but as an adventurer, Maritime Calling by Tiamat Games offers an experience unlike most seafaring titles currently available. As part roguelike RPG and part management simulation, players have the opportunity to captain a ship with a crew of 30 or so peasants and explore the end of the known world in the pre-colonial Age of Exploration. The captain is in control of running operations on their vessel and ensuring their crew is cared-for and happy. Players will need to manage reimgs, head expeditions in search of other materials, and fend off dangers as they explore a charming, procedurally-generated open world.
Maritime Calling is still in its demo phase, but despite this, many mechanics already feel fully fleshed-out. From the very first moment of the game, players will need to be strategic about completing various tasks aboard the ship, from hoisting the sails and raising the anchor to assigning sailors to day and night shifts and expedition teams based on their strengths. While there are a few bugs that currently make it difficult to keep the crew healthy and alive, Maritime Calling is an enjoyable adventure with fantastic mechanics that is shaping up to be a strong addition to the roguelike genre.
The most striking thing about the Maritime Calling demo is the complex and enjoyable sailing mechanic. The ship players will captain, Foresight, captures not only the look, but also the feel and the physics of a pre-colonial ship. The captain needs to send their best men to man the sails, helm, and anchor, but they will also need to directly control and steer the ship. Paying attention to the wheel is essential, as players will need to keep the vessel steady and sailing straight ahead while avoiding hazards in the water like shores and protruding rocks that can easily capsize them.
It’s possible to assign each member of the crew a role based on their strengths, which means sailors need to be strategic about allocating men to shifts. They can also assign orders that will help a team learn on the job and gain experience more quickly, work safely, or work more quickly to get the job done. For an added RPG element, each member of the crew gets a profile and has a personality and set of traits, from scholarly to brawny to drunk. While some of these can get repetitive, especially due to the size of the crew, it can also help inform decisions about shift assignments. If picking the right man for each job is a little obtuse, it’s possible to filter options by those who have the most desirable skills and traits and even let the game’s AI auto-assign men to a role.
The captain in Maritime Calling is in charge of researching ways to make life on the ship better and finding new places to explore on the map. The means selecting from a web of potential innovations and charting a course for new islands and coves. The management style shifts when reaching shore to begin an expedition, as Maritime Calling also requires careful consideration for tasks like guarding the ship and gearing up crewmates to succeed at their assignments.
Because Maritime Calling is in its demo phase, developer Tiamat Games is still working out a few bugs. Players may struggle with graphical issues and GPU crashing, as they might in other Early Access and demo games like Valheim. It is also possible they will struggle to feed their crew, as the galley tends to get stuck and prevent players from ordering kitchen staff to make food for the crew. There are some exploration issues, as markers for where to sail sometimes fail to appear. However, most of these issues are likely to be resolved before the game launches in Q3 of 2021.
With its realistic sailing mechanics, deep crew management system, and procedurally-generated map, Maritime Calling has great potential for success. The mechanics are well-conceived, and the blend of roguelike and management simulation gameplay offers a novel approach to a familiar genre. At this stage of development, Maritime Calling is not without bugs, but that is to be expected and is likely to change by launch later this year. For now, this seafaring adventure is worth keeping an eye on.
Maritime Calling will launch in 2021 for PC.