Three beefy fishermen find a map; except for their island in the center, it’s totally blank. “Useless,” barks Hasty Beard. “Must be more to it,” argues Steady Beard. “A mystery!” declares Brave Beard, ready to go.
One guess which guy is ignored.
Burly Men at Sea’s indie charm kicks in before you’ve explored those uncharted waters. Its minimalist art style makes every character endearing—from your hairy heroes to a merchant with a secret. The quirky sound effects and folksy soundtrack are a delight. And we love the way it injects fantasy elements (like a giant rock creature) into the setting of early 1900s Scandinavia.
More than that, though, married developers Brooke and David Condolora know just how to stoke our sense of adventure. As you run into storms, encounter a grim sailor eager to race you, and pursue other challenges, you’ll fill in parts of the map. But not all of it. At the game’s end, you’ll get a chance to sail back out and—by making different decisions at key points—enjoy scenarios missed on your last voyage. There’s enough cool stuff that it’s definitely worth replaying.
Whatever your choices, the game feels like a fantastic story you wrote yourself. So much so, you can buy a physical storybook that (thanks to a code generated after each playthrough) captures your unique in-game journey—dialogue, encounters, and all.
That’s a really cool offer we’d love to see in more games. Even if you don’t spring for the hardcover souvenir, Burly Men is a game you’ll remember long after you’re done.