When it was announced One Piece World Seeker, I was seized with great interest. Being a fan of the manga, I could not absolutely ignore the potential expressed by the title. An open world game set in a new island in the One Piece universe, centered on an exclusive story written specifically by Eiichiro Oda in person? Well, you have my attention. World Seeker had the opportunity to move away from the proposed musou formula in the different chapters of One Piece Pirate Warriors, as well as the opportunity to experience a combat system different from that of a fighting game like One Piece Burning Blood, directing it more towards the action. Furthermore, the fact that the characters of the franchise could interact with each other in new situations constituted the element that gave the intriguing touch to the idea. In short, there were all the conditions to expect an interesting game.
One Piece World Seeker he does all that I have just reported, but it is a pity that he does it with great superficiality and little courage to dare, sinking on the island of mediocrity and running aground in avoidable lightness.
A world with little to look for
Let's start with an order from the aspect that should characterize the title, that is its mold openworld and its plot, without spoiling anything that is not contained in the first minutes of the game. We are at Prison Island, an island that the name says is used by the Navy as a prison for pirates. The place is famous for its rich mineral resources, one particularly traceable only here. This has attracted over the years the interests of many government powers and obviously of unscrupulous looters, willing to risk the capture in order to grab the riches offered by the territory. The director and head of the island is Isaac, a severe and rigorous marine that within his range of influence has authoritarian power even on admirals. He opposes it Jeanne, a young solar girl who cares very much about the island and its inhabitants. The two are the representative faces of two opposing factions, the pro-marines and the anti-marines. Luffy, going to the place in search of treasures and captured, is helped by Jeanne and decides to return the favor supporting his cause. How can you read, the foundations of history are solid and develop with intriguing implications, even if in the first hours the game really struggles to be engaging. Nothing that makes one cry for a miracle, but Oda's hand is clearly visible, especially in the development of the relationship between Luffy and Jeanne.
The island's design is also impressive, characterized by small harbor villages, a large city and several wooded, mountain and mining areas. Too bad it's all here and all small enough, considering the standards to which the open worlds of recent years have accustomed us. It is possible to travel the route between the extremes of the island by running in five minutes, even less by using the Gom Gom Razzo, fun but sometimes inaccurate fast-moving plane mechanics. The size of the map would not even be a problem if it was rich in various activities, which is missing from the game. It is not possible to enter any building, there are no shops, no minigames, no real collectibles. The only substantial enrichment to the main plot are the secondary missions, which involve various characters from the world of One Piece and provide insights on primary events. In addition to this, increase the karma level of Luffy with them. Each of them requires requirements to be met, and once obtained, small dialogues can be unlocked. Reached the 100% with a character you are rewarded with ... nothing, just another dialogue. Karma is one of the potentially very good ideas of the game, however left to fend for itself, without a real development or a satisfying reward. Was it so difficult to make the characters give a piece of equipment or even a special cutscene?
Returning to secondary missions, these are reduced to always repeating the same activities. Whether it's fighting against a group of enemies, searching for objects in some places and delivering them or going from one part of the island to the other to talk to someone, the maximum variety that can be found is the two tailing missions - already, only two -, some timed missions and the hunt for hidden treasure chests, different from the well visible chests on the mini-map as soon as you are near them. Caskets provide materials or projects for crafting that are rather negligible, lunch recipes that can be used to explore members of the crew and obtain other materials or designs for clothes to be worn by Luffy. Nothing for which it is really worth spending time.
Although it is so well cared for aesthetically, unfortunately Prison Island has very little to offer the player, which can complete the main plot in about fifteen hours using the rapid journey, arriving around thirty with secondary missions and forty to find all the treasure chests.
So many wasted ambitions
Moving on to game mechanics, the title has been tested at all difficulty levels, which can be selected in the options menu at any time. Having already experience of different games set on the action and mindful of the past spent with the low levels of challenge offered by the One Piece titles, I launched myself first of all on the extreme level, the highest, which I really don't recommend to anyone. The balancing of the difficulty is based on the very old and banal concept of "you suffer more damage, inflict less damage" but in a disproportionate way, making it impossible and not at all fun to play serenely in the sections against groups of enemies. Some basic enemies are capable of killing with a single shot and it is not possible to interrupt a combo once it has started to dodge or block, which I think is unacceptable in a combat system action in the 2019. Therefore, if you are accustomed to the genre, I recommend playing at difficult or very difficult levels, the latter still with some reservations. If, on the other hand, you want to spend some carefree and serene hours, at a normal level after a few hours you will already be able to asphalt almost every enemy.
The combat system is divided into two different styles, namely the Ambition mode of Observation and the Ambition mode of Armor. The first makes it faster and more resistant to firearms, to the detriment of attack power. The second increases offensive strength, range of blows and resistance to melee attacks, significantly slowing down Luffy during combos and exposing him to enemy attacks. It is also possible to carry out attacks from a distance thanks to the Gom Gom Jet Pistol, which causes critical damage to the enemy if hit in the head. All these skills can be enhanced and expanded with new techniques. The idea then would be to change the style of attack according to the enemy facing us, among other things taking as a starting point the two types of Ambitions used by Luffy and giving emphasis to one of the most exploited innovations by Oda in the last few years. The thing also in this case was well thought out and then left in a corner to wait for some good soul to return to develop it properly.. Luffy moves in a woody way, in very rare cases you feel the need to change style against a certain enemy, while most of the time you can safely use what you prefer. Once the attacks are signed, a tension bar is filled, which allows one of four different special attacks to be performed. Each of them varies its usefulness according to the situation, whether it is in clashes one on one or with groups of opponents. In the game there is also a hint of stealth mechanics, useful only in a few infiltration missions.
While all these ideas show unexpressed potential, others are poorly thought out or simply bad. Was it really necessary to make the opening times for caskets and interaction with objects so long? There is talk of times that also reach 10 seconds of immobility to open the rarest treasure chests, which can only be reduced by spending points on a skill used for this. No thanks. The choice to make Luffy cling only to roofs and platforms is incomprehensible, precluding the supports on the rocks and making certain sections of exploration tedious. Very often to overcome this lack I had to resort to a stratagem that allowed me to reach elevated points exploiting the ability of the Gom Gom Ufo, which allows to "fly" for a few seconds. But if the area where you want to arrive is too high and there are no points in which to use the Gom Gom Razzo, forget it.
"The One Piece exists", but it is not here
One Piece World Seeker he had all the papers in rules to become one of the most fascinating experiences in the universe created by Eiichiro Oda. The lightness with which the developers of Ganbarion they approached the title, but it precluded this possibility. A real shame to see good ideas that were so unexpressed, as if the team had limited itself to bringing home the homework with the least possible effort. Focusing on eliminating avoidable problems, filing some imperfections and enhancing the strengths, One Piece World Seeker it could have been a more than valid game. Unfortunately, the final result is mediocre, leaving the title at the mercy of the "could have been, but it was not".
I would recommend World Seeker only for fans of the franchise who are looking for a way to spend a few carefree hours while being told a cute and well-structured story, and certainly not at full price. For all those who are looking for a truly valid open world game, know that the great treasure, the One Piece, exists but is not found at Prison Island. Keep looking.