Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion looks pretty good on paper. Open world RPG, fast-paced turn-based battles, searching for hidden clues and interrogating baddies, all while sailing the new seas of Ooo while singing sea shanties. All of that, attached to the Adventure Time license, what could go wrong? The answer is, put simply, a lot. But let’s start at the beginning.
Jumping right in the first thing you hear are voices of John DiMaggio and Jeremy Shada from the Adventure Time series, voicing their characters Jake and Finn, with the rest of the Adventure Time cast also reprising their roles for Pirates of the Enchiridion. The story is very simple, but very worthy of its own episode of Adventure Time; Jake and Finn fall asleep on their boat that is parked on top of their house, and wake up on the water, with no idea as to why. Soon after, the Kraken, for some reason, jumps out of the water and scares you into getting a larger boat with the name (crowd-sourced by fans),“Jeff”.
As you start cruising around the seas of Ooo you notice the first problem with the game, its pace. Not the story, but the game itself. Everything you do in Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is done at a glacial pace, in a game about the ice kingdom melting. The irony is palpable. Every cut-scene is un-skippable, all of the side quests you get, which have text-only introductions to them, are not able to have their introductions skipped through or sped up in any way. So, if you are a fast reader, you are going to be twiddling your thumbs for large swathes of time every time you want to pick up some extra dosh. Without exaggeration, the first side quest spends 24 seconds painfully showing you the characters speech, and the slowly panning to each of the four bags of sugar you need to fetch for him.
The “fast-paced” combat, does not fare any better. The battles in Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion are well thought out, with each enemy having weaknesses and strengths, as well as having the ability to use items such as heart vials for health restoration and even throwing muffins on their fallen comrades to wake them up, something that isn’t often seen in RPG’s. Each playable character, of which there are four, has unique abilities that make the battles interesting and engaging, but they are unfortunately ruined by choppy animations, and a radial wheel style control mechanism that is not fit for purpose. A slight bump or twitch of the joystick will have you accidentally running away instead of using your special attacks which will have you wanting your controller to take flying lessons out the nearest window.
There is also an interrogation mini-game, and while it only shows up a handful of times through the entire experience, it is extremely jarring and does not fit the rest of the adventure at all. It is almost impossible to fail, with Jake and Finn letting you know exactly what you have to do, with the only difficulty coming from having to stop the spinning wheel in the right place.
“Unfortunately, the slow death of your patience with this game will not end there.”
Navigating around the landscape suffers from the same speed issues as the rest of the game. Moving around, whether on foot, on your boat, or even on Jake the motorcycle is clunky, with you getting caught on most of the terrain and stopping dead, as well as invisible walls. On top of this, every characters walking speed is that of an ant fighting a strong Melbourne headwind, all making for a game experience that seems purposely dragged out.
Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion does get a very nice speed bump about half way through the seven-hour game when you unlock BMO as your fourth playable character. Along with Jake, Finn and Marceline, who you can choose from any time while walking through the overworld, they each come with their own specific uses. Marceline being able to open chests and BMO able to open locked doors, for example. But the real strength lies with BMO being able to navigate with a speed that most gamers would be expecting, as well as him being able to break jars to get more items and coins around the landscape much faster than the other characters. Everyone else swings their weapons insanely slow, and somehow manage to put them away after almost every swing. Again, they are very slow at pulling them out.
The graphics are next on the chopping block, with Adventure Time looking like it was rendered on the original Xbox while playing on my shiny new Xbox One X, and the game running at a frame rate that can only be described as unacceptable. Loading screens and transitions taking an age to finish, adding to the overall sluggish feeling to the game. Add to this the litany of bugs, including crashing, warping into, and out of the environment, sound bugs including random screeching noises and the audio getting out of sync with what is going on on-screen. It all adds up to making Adventure Time: Pirate of the Enchiridion an unpolished and almost unplayable experience.
That is not to say this game is without merit. The story would be a very serviceable episode of Adventure Time, with well done voice acting and a well-crafted narrative, at least, right up until the extremely lacklustre ending. The environment and characters, while not the best looking, resemble their cartoon counterparts quite well, and any fan of the show will be able to identify who is who and where is where.
Is It Adventure Time?
With a price tag of over $50AUD, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is impossible to recommend to all but the most die-hard of Adventure Time fans, and even then, I would recommend waiting for a hefty sale discount. With clunky controls, slow as molasses gameplay, bugs and glitches for days, and overall lack of thought and polish being put into it, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion is another slap in the face for Adventure Time fans, dying for a good use of the IP. This one certainly isn’t mathematical.