Whenever a video game in a manga/anime series is announced, I hope that the game will remain authentic and, at best, close to the story. Beat ’em ups are an exception, as the characters can also put on a solid crossover performance in games like Jump Force. One Piece already has almost 50 games on different platforms. How is the Straw Hat gang doing in the latest title World Seeker on Xbox One and PS4?
Affected by the open world hype?
I followed the anime television series One Piece in 2003 from the beginning for several seasons. At some point I switched to the manga and at some point I lost sight of the series in recent years. The video game series didn’t interest me that much at the time, so that One Piece: Pirate Warriors was one of the only and last games played. Therefore, there will be hardly any comparisons to the other games in the series.
One Piece: World Seeker is the largest and most extensive One Piece game as an open world title. The action-adventure game was developed together with the manga creator Eiichirō Oda, so the story is authentic and the two new characters Isaac and Jeanne are an original addition to the series. World Seeker is set on the newly created region of Prison Island, with alternating cities and landscapes.
Contrary to my expectations, the game uses a lot of cutscenes, but this seems more than useful given the cooperation with the creator. So you are very well introduced to the story of One Piece: World Seeker at the beginning of the game. During the game, the tension of the story remains, because you don’t know the ending from manga or anime.
As it must be, you slip into the role of the leader of the straw hat pirates, Monkey D. Luffy. The gang’s goal was to snatch the treasure from Sky Island, the island in the sky above Prison Island. Unfortunately, this was a naval trap and with it the members of the Straw Hat gang, either captured or on the run, were scattered across the region. Your task in the first chapters is to find all your comrades. The story is accompanied by main and side missions with fairly simple instructions. Unfortunately, the task scheme doesn’t offer that much variety, since, for example, two or three items always have to be collected and brought to the client for side missions, so that after a few completed quests it just feels pointless. Collecting items instead of the glowing dots on the map or opening the chests doesn’t seem necessary either, since the crafting system doesn’t provide extreme advantages either.
Too little depth in game mechanics?
The combat system consists of simple button mashing, the two special skills observer and tank haki. In addition, Bandai Namco has added an element that is untypical and unsuitable for Luffy: sneaking up and taking out. In the case of special skills, for example, the well-known brute gum-gum attacks of Luffy’s devil fruit are used. However, these are not always absolutely necessary techniques, since the one-button technique is usually sufficient for attacking many opponents with button mash. Away from the missions and battles, the player is introduced to a role-playing system. You can expand your skills from five skill trees or craft armor with collected items, take them apart and make new ones. For more role-playing feeling, there is the karma system with which karma points can be collected through certain tasks. When a character reaches full karma level, a new cutscene will be unlocked.
Graphically, One Piece: World Seeker has a lot to offer. There is a lot to discover due to the many locations. Some busy spots look wonderful, but when you look at the overall picture of the open world, you immediately notice that there is little to be found in the surrounding area. Hardly any NPC residents move around on the prison island, even if there are some chatty ones with side quests in the settlements and city areas. From time to time, wild pirates and marines get in the way, who are usually beaten to the afterlife with button smashing. In the course of the game, different locomotion options are unlocked, so that you can not only run but also swing through the area with a gum-gum rocket like Spiderman. Fast travel, on the other hand, is a major braking point due to the long loading times. If the anime series is well known, then definitely extraordinary locations similar to Thriller Bark or Whole Cake Island are also expected, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist. Aside from the scenery, the characters and the Straw Hat ship Thousand Sunny look visually detailed and very well executed.
Another fantastic aspect of World Seeker is the game’s sound quality. World Seeker is packed with classic One Piece sound effects. The music is also very harmonious and fits the environment. Of course, the original dubbing of the characters is mandatory and even if it’s only in Japanese, the cutscenes look like they’re from the anime. Only in the in-game dialogues was there no full synchro and only a few sounds were used. Therefore, the desire to read through all the silent dialogues quickly passes.
After about 20 hours of play, the 17 chapters are over. But the story is far from over as there are three more DLCs to come and the Season Pass for them is already available. But of course there is an aftertaste as to why the valuable development time was not used to complete the game.
In One Piece: World Seeker, the feelings remain mixed in the areas of story, graphics, sound and open world gameplay. Unfortunately, the most important part, the gameplay, becomes the game’s major weakness. As with many anime games, a lot of potential is wasted here. Personally, I think if the world were smaller and consisted of semi-open areas, it would simply be a better gaming experience and, above all, a huge savings in development time. It’s ok for One Piece fans, but otherwise the open world spoils the fun of the game. Less is more here too.
Original story and synchro
Graphic implementation is very good
simple controls and brute fighting skills
unnecessary open world
boring side missions
Only Monkey D. Luffy playable