Nantucket is the 2018 unofficial sequel game to the novel Moby Dick. You play as Ishmael as you control a whaling ship/crew and hunt for the great whale that took down the Pequod. Now I will mention that due to the nature of the game, some of you might not want to read this Impressions piece, and that’s fine. The game is not graphic, but it is, in fact, about whaling so take that for what you will. With that warning, let’s get into it.
Nantucket is a strategy game that plays much like you’d imagine tabletop games would. You get your first ship, hire crew, then go out on the ocean to pick various locations. Some are quest-specific, and some will just allow you to hunt. Once you acquire a target, you pick the people that will actually go out for the hunt, and battle begins. Characters and animals are represented as cards, and dice rolls determine what moves you can make. You have characters that focus on attacking, healing, and defense. As you play the game, you will unlock more crew members and more boats used for hunting, increasing the strategy. Combat is not hard, but the luck-based nature of it can really bite you in the ass. Bad rolls mean you will be left unable to properly defend and/or attack, resulting in lost crew.
Aside from that, you have to balance keeping your ship supplied but also having enough room to pick up oil, blubber, and other loot from the battles. In the early stages of the game, you can waste a lot of time needing to constantly go back to port to sell off your plunder, so you need to get good at knowing exactly how far you will be sailing to take enough supplies to make it, without overloading your ship.
The game has various story and side quests as well. The main story quests see you trying to find a way to take down the great white whale, the obsession that already cost one captain so much but has now become Ishmael’s. You will also have various quests for your crew, and you can take on jobs in town. Sometimes it will be going after specific whales, sometimes it will be just hunting enough of a type. There is also the occasional on deck battle, such as with pirates, but the gameplay is still the same even if the location changes.
All in all, it’s a pretty interesting strategy game with fun gameplay and a bit of freedom. You decide who you hire, which quests you take or don’t, and how you focus your energy. The problem comes in later in the game, though, specifically the final battle. I have said once before I don’t like to do these pieces on incomplete games, but here we are. The final battle with Moby Dick has to be done a specific way, and if you haven’t stacked your crew the way the game most recommends, you are extremely unlikely to win. I found myself reading so many guides that all led to the same conclusion, I would need to restart the game and build my crew around what the game thinks is the best and not what I had decided.
That is a bit harsh and probably unfair. I am sure some people were able to move away from the recommended crew type and beat it, but I wasn’t. This is not me saying don’t get this game, just me saying that it’s something that you should be warned about before going in.
Aside from that, I really enjoyed the gameplay, though. It was challenging, fun, and a bit different from anything I had ever played. I appreciate the way the art is done because I think, given the nature of the game, any other art style would make killing the whales simply too sad. I also like the music and sea shanties that pop up as you are sailing around.
The main story is pretty decent. Ishmael believes that Ahab, and thus himself, was cursed and that he will be forever stuck unless he also takes on the whale. There are some interesting scenes about him dealing with that madness that hunting Moby Dick has caused. I also once again really like the art style of it all.
Much like the subject of whaling itself, the game is a period piece, so there are a few moments that are a bit… let’s say “of the times” but nothing too overboard.
Bottom line? I don’t have as much to say about this as I have other things I have done Impressions on clearly. I liked the game, although the challenge of the last battle disappointed me a bit, and the lack of feeling like I can’t complete it has left a bit of a taste. Although it is Moby Dick, so it’s supposed to be hard. I like the way the game looks, sounds, and plays, but I was not totally in love with the story or how it all unfolded. Still, the game is decently priced and has a lot to offer. If you like strategy games and think the nature of this one won’t be too much of a turn off I actually highly recommend it.