Ship of Fools, Review on Linux


Ship of Fools, developed by Fika Productions and published by Team17, is an intuitive and lighthearted 2 players coop roguelike boat action game. It runs ok with proton experimental or GE.

After a brief intro of light versus darkness and the importance of the lighthouse, you wake up ashore on an island surrounded by crabs and seagulls. I promptly fought them and grabbed one of those defeated. Bringing it with me while I was exploring the map, until I got to the boat. There, I was happy to find that the seagull I was carrying could be used as ammunition for the cannons, what led me to try loading the cannons with pretty much everything I could carry. Setting the foundation for the whole game: it rewards your intuition without overexposing things, and being humorous, no matter how dire is the situation.

Each roguelike “run” is a choice set of battles where you need to protect your boat. Your character can use melee attacks to push away attackers, put out fires or deflect projectiles. You can also load, reposition and shoot the cannons.

Element Description (spoiler free)
Objectives Stop the Aquapocalypse
Challenges Protect your boat from the most varied foes
Mechanics Melee enemies, projectiles and fire. Reposition, Reload and Shoot your cannon. Manage your and your boat inventory. Decide the best route for your journey. Unlock permanent upgrades.

The challenge increases with the variety of enemies. They will try to board, shoot or kamikaze at your boat, causing damage every time they complete an attack, which start is highlighted with an exclamation mark, helping you to prioritize your targets.

The helm is where you really start your adventure and move forward at each battle. You will be presented with a hex map, with light and dark tiles. Navigating only from left to right you need to make a choice what will be your next battle, some hexes are marked to indicate you might get extra loot, unlock a new type of ammunition, find a castaways or additional challenges. But beware, every few turns, the darkness creeps in, converting more tiles. Once you reach a dark tile, you fight the boss of that biome, for a total of four.

At the end of every run you lose most things and wake up at the initial area where I foolishly valiantly fought the shore dwellers is a hub where you unlock persistent buffs with the currency you were rewarded, like improving your ship by drinking weird soups, unlocking new power-ups you will be able to find during your next run, or selecting and upgrading your unlocked cannons. Once you are satisfied with your changes, you just need to head to your boat to start a new adventure.

I mostly used the first cannon because by the time I unlocked others it was already upgraded a few times, but during my last few runs I started to prefer the canon you can charge for a single powerful shot, really great against enemies that hides after being hit once.

Your boat has two cannons and four places to mount them, two on each side of the boat. If you are playing alone, one of the cannons will be an automatic turret, it has a good precision but for some reason it always misses the first shot, it still needs to be loaded, and you can operate it if needed.

The boat also starts with 3 storage slots, expandable to 5, where you can store things you find during your adventure, like different types of ammunition, repairing kits, buffs, or effigies that increase the challenge but rewards you once you complete it. Everything that is not attached to the boat will fall from your ship once you move hexes.

You can also unlock new Fools, the characters in the game. While their move set are similar, they come with a unique “heirloom”, that gives them a slight bonus at something close to their personality. They are not too overpowered or must have, but allows you to find something close to your play style or allow you to do some interesting combos - except for Lotte auto-reloading ability, you can use it to cheese the game. Besides the heirloom, at each run you can get some trinket that increases their power, like shooting faster, increasing critical chance or attack modifiers.

I like the minimalist interface, most of the things you need to know are there on your boat to see, the storage slots are right in the middle, if it needs repair it will be missing some parts or if you have shields they will be hanging on the side. But if you need more details, you can always bring up the menu to list the details of the things you have on the boat, or on your character.

To run the game on Linux I had to use either Proton Experimental or GE, but even with those, I get stuck at the “Fika” splash screen a few times, I need to restart the game to make it work. I also had some issues with OBS recording the gameplay, it would go dark after a while. And lastly, multiplayer online only through Steam Remote Play, as currently the multiplayer will crash once someone joins a lobby.

+ Positives - Negatives
Runs on Linux with Proton Experimental or Proton GE Stuck at Fika page a few times
Keyboard remap is the single accessibility feature
Remote play works fine Multiplayer online crashes the game

The game can be quite enjoyable and challenging playing alone, but it felt like it was supposed to be played coop. Good cooperation makes the game more deep and fun. With my little sister, we figured out some arrangements each run that worked well for us, and it was a breeze. For example, earlier I got a trinket that increases the number of ammo I reload, so when I was doing my cycle I would also reload her cannon, eventually I was mostly meleeing in the boat while she was dishing out damage outside. I think it is better to have a second human for fun purposes, and the game does not expect you to coop like clockwork.

If you are looking for seafaring fun and challenges to play with a friend, Ship of Fools was released on steam on November 22.