At this point, there’re very few readers out there that haven’t heard of Seabeard. Published by Backflip and developed by Hand Circus, this title has been high on our radar ever since we dubbed it the Game of GDC back in March. Shortly after soft-launching in Canada earlier this month, we were given the opportunity to get an extended look at the Animal Crossing-esque title. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s worth the wait.

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After an introductory cutscene, I get my overall quest: Rebuild an abandoned pirate island and bring back glory to the land. Early quests introduced me to the basic tenets of gameplay, which include fetch quests, mini-games like fishing and sailing to and fro islands. Sailing between islands requires energy, which at the onset is limited and recharges slowly. However, after getting used to the mechanics and introduction I was able to travel to a variety of different islands, each with their own towns, shops, and times to find and collect.

It’s at this point where it suddenly dawns on me just how complex Seabeard has the potential to be. Rebuilding your home island is a long-term project that requires coins, items, crew and tools. Each have their own quests and requirements in order to slowly gather the resources needed to restore another portion of the island and each opens up another avenue. Early gameplay involves plenty of fishing, shaking trees and bushes for fruit and other items, and doing daily quests for money and experience.

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For example, early goals center around building stalls on your island to sell fish and food. The fish market is easy to build, while the food stand is the first one to require effort. I went from island to island catching fish, returning them to my fish market for coins and continued gathering and selling until I earned enough to build the food stand and the requisite housing to host my fruit trader. My reward (besides making my island look better)? The ability to now sell fruit, milk, eggs and other food items that can be collected across the island. It’s a very small upgrade in the scheme of the whole game, but a huge addition to my fledgling economy.

I’ve only scratched the surface and there’s so much more to be explored. So far I’ve seen a pet store (which lets you purchase various pets and toys), several clothing and furniture stores, and plenty of buildings to eventually build on your island. There are even crafting jobs, such as wood working and grain working that let you convert raw materials into better items that can be sold or used in quests (assuming you can purchase the recipes).

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Even at the onset, it’s clear that Seabeard has an impressive amount of depth and absolutely nails all the prerequisites for a great game (lovely visuals, catchy music, top-notch presentation). In fact, the only significant question deals with whether the game’s freemium elements will significantly detract from what would otherwise be an awesome title. My story above, for example, took the better part of a whole weekend of playing. Early on it’s clear that the game’s energy system impacts gameplay, but I don’t think it’s too significant. Regardless, Seabeard is still one of the most compelling games I’ve played in awhile and is still well worth keeping track of. If you’re not interested in checking it out in one of the soft-launch countries, our forum thread has plenty of impressions and developer interaction.

Canadian App Store Link: Seabeard, Free

  • spokentruths772

    Really excited for this game!

    • Stormourner

      your comment is better than the rest =)

  • Holcman

    Hope the IAP doesn't get too intense, because I have high hopes for this game! Can't wait until I get it!

    • Kirs

      Sorry dude.

  • scottbailey

    You know what would be fun? If I could buy the game? And then play it as much as I wanted?

    • caaalrb

      Sooo... Animal Crossing?

    • Kirs

      Buy a proper handheld gaming device.

      • Themostunclean

        Yeah. I've hardly bought any games on iOS since getting my Vita.

  • Amenbrother

    I just cant get into these types of games. I have tried and tried 🙁

  • Nick Teiss

    A lot of new games are soft-launching in Canada lately, good for me, but I wonder why. gonna try that one for show!!

  • Killerluffy246

    Its free and My interest is gone

    • Stormourner

      whatever

  • Ponycakes

    Have they announced a US launch date?

    • Speedster117

      Probably this Thursday (Wednesday night)

  • Billy Ocean

    Will it work on my Touchscreen Zune?

  • Kirs

    'Worth the wait' ^.^

    This game has timers. Its ALL about the wait...

    P.S various currencies

  • Xexist

    The energy system in this is BRUTAL

  • Biowhere

    This isn't really even a game. I've spent about 3 hours playing it. None of the mini games are even fun, the performance is really poor with the touch controls lagging badly and impacting your ability to play them. Each trip from one island to the next requires a 20 minute wait for energy. What was likely a premium game through a significant portion of development has been hammered into the freemium model with what I would say are disastrous results.

    • keshi0

      No no no no no 🙁

      Make it stop.

      MAKE IT STOOOOOPPPPPP 🙁

    • EvilAbdy

      this makes me sad 🙁

  • Biowhere

    Dungeon Keeper has a more gradual paywall.

  • klepp0906

    Seriously - screw the people that want free games. I would rather pay for a game than have a "free" game with a store making it look cheap and ugly

  • korkidog

    Animal Crossing wasn't my kind of game so I'll skip this one. Free with IAP for this type of game doesn't sound fun anyway.

  • iosuser

    Freemium does not work for this type game (or most games for that matter). I don't care what they say, they have to change the core game to add IAP. They should have made a premium game, Oceanhorn proved it could be done, and concentrated on the actual game instead of how integrate IAP!

    • Stormourner

      yyyyyyaaaaaawwwwwnnnn!!!

  • chanandler

    Are you playing a different version of the game to what some of us have grabbed from the Canadian store? Yeah there is a great game in there, but it is firmly hidden behind a paywall 10 miles thick!

    Right from the start you are badgered about spending real money, after a while when you begin to run out of bag space it starts again. There is no extended gaming sessions in this game, unless you spend real money to reset the timers.

    From start to the 4 hours I have spent with the game, the constant requests to spend real money just detract from the great game that is hidden away deep inside. Such a shame!

    • turtluga

      I was trying to get through this without spending real money. And it's just brutal. You want to repair your swap shop? Good luck finding 9 driftwood to make 3 wood planks. It takes good money to have the guy teach you how to make wood planks. It takes a long time to process 3 wood planks. And to top it off, once you get to the swap shop with your precious planks, it asks you again 250 gold to repair the thing. Then you got this "whores" walking around asking you to buy new clothes because they don't like your look.

      At the end of it, if you imagine there is no limitation, there is no timer--there is really no game in it because the limitations are the game. Managing your inventory by dropping things to make way for the more important ones, that's the game. Gathering ingredients and finding items while waiting for the boat ride timer to finish, that's the game too. You as a player make no decisions that change the outcome of the game. The storybook plays automatically. In each quest you are told what to do and where to do it, and you're just up against the timer. This game would be the best game to play when you're spending time in prison.

  • Ubisububi

    Thought I'd check in and see what's up. Looks like it's the same old story so I'll be heading back to my Surface Pro for some real gaming. I'm so sad to see my iPad neglected like this but I find myself picking it up less and less these days.

  • thatoneedguy

    The devs have heard the complaints about the energy system and said they will discuss it this week, so hopefully they'll actually use this time to make some changes to it before the game is officially released.

    I love this game, I only wish they made everything a little more balanced.

    As of now, while there technically aren't any paywalls, I feel like I'm being pushed towards IAPs. I'll pay $20 for a great game such as this one could be if it was free of timers and currencies, but I won't pay a dime for IAP.

    I understand the concept of f2p, I understand that there are people who don't have a problem playing a game for 10 minutes before having to wait another hour and a half, it's just sad to see a game with such great potential being ruined by an aggravating energy system and f2p nonsense.

    • Biowhere

      I can't imagine how the developers released it at all in the state that it's in. This type of game is not compatible with multiple currencies and energy timers. I'm ok with games like puzzles and dragons being IAP but for this game... 🙁

  • Jake7905

    This looks like the biggest bust of 2014, and another good idea spoiled by freemium monetization.

  • anabolicMike

    Crashes out on my tablet. Mini retina 128gb. Uninstalled. That was my only test. Bye smockin

  • likepresto

    I understand the devs are afraid of putting this game up for $20 or even $10 and scaring off the average user but if the IAP is as bad as they say I won't even come close to it. I'd rather they sold it for $4.99 and drastically reduce the need for IAP. Unless that happens this is an instant pass for me.

    • Kirs

      I feel you.
      I was disappointed by Supernauts. And now this too. Oh well, mobile gaming, i tell myself.

  • mrmoobz

    Is there anyway to access the Canadian store from elsewhere?

    • Themostunclean

      Late answer but maybe it'll help you in the future- Make a Canadian iTunes account.

  • Brendan Charles

    I got really excited in the first 15 minutes of playing this game, and then really depressed in the following 15 minutes. After building my first vendor and seeing it takes 20 minutes to sell a fish because of an arbitrary counter- I cant imagine how long it would take to sell a high value item later in the game.

    With the two different currencies (coins and pearls) and the counter system- I subsequently deleted the app. No matter how polished- I'm not going to sync my time into a game where everything is designed to make you pay with IAPs.

  • RinSatori

    The draconian timers and energy system in this game put me off so much that i deleted it. It looks pretty and all but i wont play such games.