One Piece: World Seeker Review
The World has truly entered a Great Pirate Era now that One Piece: World Seeker has finally pulled into port, and it is full of treasure. The whole Straw Hat crew is here to take you on a journey across Prison Island where you’ll play as Luffy, who naturally gets himself caught up in the island’s mysterious occupation led by Warden Isaac, and the rebellion against it led by a young girl named Jeanne. Both characters were conceptualized by series’ creator Eiichiro Oda, who also supervised the game’s story, and it makes for a stamp of approval that fans of the series will feel throughout their adventure. You’ll Gum-Gum rocket across Prison Island, helping its politically polarized citizens and battling rival pirates before taking a moment to kick back and bother Sanji for food. Despite some mild gripes regarding controls, the game’s charming character writing, intriguing plot, and awe-inspiring visuals make World Seeker a quintessential One Piece experience for fans and an excellent onboarding opportunity for newcomers.
Arittake No Yume O Kakiatsume!
The story kicks off with a failed heist at Sky Prison that sends Luffy plummeting to Prison Island, where he meets Jeanne, before rounding up the rest of the Straw Hats. As someone who has only recently started diving into One Piece, I found it pretty easy to start loving characters I hadn’t met yet, and even easier to heart-eyes the ones I had. They’re all so fun and charismatic, but you definitely don’t get to hang out with them enough. I was always looking forward to seeing who I would get to spend time with in my next mission, a personal favorite being Brook the perverted skeleton. When the game’s plot gets into full swing, things move along at a solid pace with a healthy dose of tropes and some genuinely interesting twists, though cutscenes could definitely use a bit more voice acting instead of characters standing around looking at each other. All of this is accentuated by a karma system that tracks your relationship with each character and faction the game presents, which promises a “special scene” should you meet certain requirements within it. Some characters even offer special mechanics, one of which is “Explore Requests,” where you can send characters to gather resources. Results will vary depending on the quality of the lunch you send them with, which means you’ll need to collect a variety of recipes to put Sanji to work with.
In spite of its uninviting name, Prison Island is absolutely beautiful, with lush greenery in almost every frame accentuated by perpetually clear blue skies and crystalline formations jutting out of the Earth. Though, it definitely could stand to be a bit more lively – the island’s main city is pretty dead with only a handful of NPCs either standing still or pacing back and forth, and there’s very little wildlife except for the occasional butterfly. It’s a bit of a disservice to the game’s diverse environments and interesting character designs. However, what is here is very impressive, with detailed moss climbing the side of buildings, trees softly blowing in the open air, and monolithic military buildings that loom in the distance. The island definitely has an identity of its own, it just could use some fleshing out.
“So You Don’t Like to Get Hit, Huh? Well, You’re About to Have a Very Bad Day.”
When you first gain control of Luffy, you may find that some of the controls are a little stickly, particularly in combat. This is my main gripe with World Seeker – considering how stretchy and fluid Luffy’s body is, controlling him should reflect that, though sometimes what feels like a button delay gets in the way of that and crushes any flow or momentum you may have had. As you unlock new combat and traversal mechanics through the skill tree, eventually you’ll hit a point where everything sort of snaps into place and you’ll be soaring across the island mostly unimpeded, but it shouldn’t take as long as it does. The somewhat wonky camera doesn’t help either, as you’ll often need to literally shove the camera inside of Luffy to stretch to some higher points. There’s a couple of other issues like the action button needing to be held for longer than necessary, and a bizarre focus on stealth gameplay in some sections that don’t entirely land, but nothing that made me throw my controller in frustration or lash out on a subreddit.
But back to combat for a moment – even though it lacks the flow of the Batman or Bayonetta games, Luffy still packs a pretty diverse pirate-destroying arsenal in his little body. You have two different attack modes – one is for faster hits and stealth sections, the other is better for dealing bigger blows to more powerful enemies and crowd control. There’s also a ranged attack that lets you deliver knuckle sandwiches on demand from yards away, with fists to the face resulting in critical hits that land with a satisfying gunshot sound. Luffy also has a Gear Fourth mode that he can switch into after a certain point in the story, which requires players to fill the tension gauge before activating it, while they’ll be unable to replenish it for quite a while after the mode wears off. You’ll unlock some pretty awesome abilities between all of these, and you’ll need to use them wisely to survive, especially in boss battles against pirates from the series’ rogues gallery who comes to visit Prison Island. A lot of these battles remain relatively simple and are often over before they even really start, but vary enough to stay interesting. Outside of that though, enemies could stand to be a bit more diverse, as you’ll be fighting the same marines and pirates for a lot of the game.
World Seeker’s got a lot to do outside of the main storyline as well. Being the first open world game in the series, there’s a ton of sidequests to tackle and a separate mode called Free Play where you can practice your fighting skills. Back on the Thousand Sunny, you can craft new equipment to buff your stats, as well as outfits to fly around in and show off your sense of style all over the island, or you can just hang out and chat with your crew if you’re itching to spend a little more time with them. There’s also a Tone Dial in the pause menu where you can choose which of the game’s original scores you want to listen to, all of which are composed by Kohei Tanaka who arranges the music for the anime as well alongside Shirō Hamaguchi.
Ultimately, One Piece: World Seeker is a super fun game that does the iconic franchise justice and serves as an engrossing and delightful standalone experience. Now more than ever, I’m eager to dive into the series egregiously long story and see what else the Straw Hats have been up to for the past two decades, and what brought them to where they are in this title. The game’s shortcomings are easy to overlook thanks to the gorgeous environments, captivating music, engaging story, and utterly loveable characters. I highly recommend it for fans of the series, curious newcomers, and pirate enthusiasts everywhere.
**PlayStation 4 code provided by the publisher**
- Super Beautiful Visuals
- Charming Characters
- Intriguing Story
- Mildly Janky Controls
- Not Enough Enemy Diversity
- Underwhelming Combat