Port Royale 4 | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Gaming Minds Studios
  • Publisher: Kalypso Media Group
  • Release Date: 28/05/2021
  • Price: £44.99 / $49.99
  • Review code provided by Kalypso Media Group

Introducing: Port Royale 4 Switch Review

Port Royale 4 is a marvel amongst simulator games, especially for one “ported” to the Switch. It’s an ambitious take on the seafaring adventures surrounding the Carribean Islands. I say ambitious because it takes common elements from multiple strategy and sim games and ships them off in one vessel. If you want to learn more, now’s the time to board the good ship S.S. Review, to see if Port Royale 4 runs aground or floats to the top.

Hoist the Mainsail and Scuttle the Jib

Port Royale 4 is an open waters game where you make it what you will. There isn’t an overarching narrative to drive your time in the game. Ok, so that isn’t entirely true. There is a campaign which lets you play as various nations. An introductory video shows slides while a narrator sets the stage. The shape of the world during the 1500’s is imparted to the player before handing control over. Even though I typically avoid campaigns for this style of game, it was actually nice to have a little more guidance after completing the tutorial.

Even though Port Royale 4 doesn’t have the strongest plot guiding your every step, there are a lot of factoids and a wealth of information to be gleaned from the time period. Information is presented relatively quickly and the addition of a viceroy helps you feel connected to the surrounding world and nations.

Plunder Be a Pirates Game

Port Royale 4 has a lot of varied elements to it. Most of them are done well while others are passable. Like I said above, it’s an ambitious series with a lot of inner workings and complexities to each of the gameplay mechanics. This isn’t a game that most people will easily jump in and sail off into a successful sunset. I’ve played a lot of these games and mistakenly skipped the tutorial when I first started my review of Port Royale 4. I quickly learned my lesson and backtracked to the main screen to begin anew. The tutorial and campaign are advised to meddle in as they give a decent grounding into the various systems.

On the surface of the water, Port Royale 4 is a trading game. Of which I’m a huge fan. Buy up a supply in one town and offload it in another for massive profit. Using ships during the heyday of piracy is the perfect backdrop for the game. And rather than leave it at a simple trading game, you can engage in piracy yourself. Or the hunting of pirates. You can also war with other nations or strive for peace and let the flow of coins dictate your bearings. One thing I liked about the combat element is that it’s its own mode of gameplay.

Combat can be automated but it’s more fun to take control in a turn-based brawl. You move the individual ships in your convoy to position them for the greatest broadside attacks. There are special skills that can be employed to even the odds as well as the knowledge from your captains. I also appreciated the use of the different cannon shot based on your capitalist goals. You can aim to reduce the crew for easier boarding, target the hull to sink an attacker or cripple the sails to slow your prey. The combat was fun and enriched the core game.

A Rich Treasure Trove

So far we have turn-based combat similar to an RPG and trading between towns like a merchant simulator. Port Royale 4 also has an in depth town building element. Everyone knows if you own a city and produce your own goods, you stand to make even more money. Such is the case here where you can add residential areas, warehouses and production of decent variety. There’s also a political aspect to the game with quests and favors to earn and exploit. And what would a game surrounded by pirates be without treasure maps? It’s all here in Port Royale 4. If that sounds like a lot, it is.

This was perhaps the biggest issue I had on my earlier playthroughs. There were times when I didn’t know what to focus on and felt like I was putting out fire after fire. It felt too reactionary and I became aimless. Again, utilizing the campaign helped a lot with that. Fortunately, all of the different gameplay elements are done decently enough to the point nothing was broken. The game is cohesive in all its attempts to recapture the time period and I respect the complexities found within.

Weigh the Coin to Count

Port Royale isn’t the most graphically stunning game but large management sims rarely are. Despite it being less than a year old from its original release, it looks like games I ran on my PC in the late 90’s. Granted, the memory can be hazy and that’s likely an exaggeration, but the point is, you won’t be asking where the ray tracing is. For a game as robust as Port Royale 4, it runs quite well on the Nintendo Switch. Be that handheld or docked. I didn’t run into any major issues aside from a few graphical hiccups.

The music is often just background filler. In Port Royale 4 it’s reminiscent of the Age of Sail and helps add life to the game. Likewise, the sound effects are on par with the era and tell much of the story by melding with the overall world. The sound department did justice by marrying quality music and effects to the circumposing experience.

Final Wrap

Port Royale 4 sets sail with great ambition and flows admirably to the shores of success. It’s a deep game that takes time and patience to master. There are a lot of gameplay elements to get lost in, and for some, that’s the greatest achievement. Equally impressive is the fact that you can run this massive experience on the Nintendo Switch while you sit on the beach with your feet buried in the hot sand. If you’re a fan of management sims, then Port Royale 4 is a great game to anchor to your Nintendo Switch. It can be a bit overwhelming to casual fans so you’ll want to go in with proper expectations.

Pros

  • Ton of Content and Gameplay Packed In
  • Excellent Ambience Representing the Age of Sail
  • Varied Gameplay Elements
  • Ambitious World

Cons

  • Overwhelming to Some
  • Scaled Graphics

Verdict

Port Royale 4 is an ambitious adventure that proves the world is your oyster.

Scoring Policy