Pirates Outlaws is a new collectible card game with some roguelike elements that aims to bring an experience similar to the highly-acclaimed PC game Slay the Spire to mobile. Considering that games of this genre are relatively sparse on the portable platform, it is a welcome addition to the collection. However, it didn’t quite achieve what it set out to do.

As its name implies, everything about Pirate Outlaws is about pirates. You’ll choose your preferred class of pirate from the game’s six available options, which includes everything from a standard gunner to an admiral or even a cursed captain. Naturally, each class comes with its own unique starting deck, ability, and skin, though you are going to have to unlock each of them by spending gold that you earn on your adventures.

6 classes to choose from

Besides gold, there’s also another type of currency that you have to earn to unlock the later classes: Reputation. After all, you must have a certain amount of reputation for other pirates to follow you willingly.  This also serves as a way to prevent you from just buying your way to victory.

Pirates Outlaws only costs a dollar

Pirates Outlaws is a premium game with an (admittedly inexpensive) price of just one dollar, but it also offers a lot of IAPs, which range from the standard gold purchases to experience or reputation boosts.

To the game’s credit, it does not fall into the pay-to-win trap of many other mobile games. These IAPs are not mandatory to make progress at all, and you can just earn everything simply by playing the game. The option to pay is there only for those who want to take a shortcut.

When it comes to gameplay, Pirates Outlaws is a pretty standard CCG/roguelike experience. You’ll have a total of three islands to explore – the latter two of which require you to spend gold and reputation to unlock.

Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll plan a course and set sail. Every time you get to a different destination you’ll get a random event, which could be battles, shops, taverns, and more.

Pirates Outlaws 4
Plan your course then head out to explore

As you progress, you’ll collect new cards to enrich your deck as well as relics that grant you passive bonuses. Additionally, you can also get them by spending gold in shops.

After the random events, there is a boss battle

Eventually, you’ll encounter a boss battle that is quite challenging (duh!). To overcome these battles and progress, you’ll really need to put in the thought to thoroughly understand your deck.

When you’ve managed to defeat the boss, you’ll be able to continue to explore the next area. In general, you’ll have to complete three different areas to successfully finish a run with the maximum rewards possible

The battles are pretty standard. Most of the time you’ll face multiple enemies at once and can carry out different actions such as melee attacks, shooting guns, or shielding by playing different cards.

Pirates Outlaws Combat
Battles are pretty standard

Most cards require you to pay an ‘ammo’ cost to play, and there is an “ammo” card to restore this resource. Managing this is crucial to success, and that’s where your skills come into play.

A big complaint about the combat system is that it is really lacking in term of animations. Even though it’s clear that the developer has put a lot of effort into creating beautiful models for the characters and enemies, they don’t actually perform any action when they attack.

The battle system is lacking in term of animations

Furthermore, the experience just doesn’t feel as deep or compelling as it could have been, mostly due to the fact that your enemies don’t have a deck of their own– they just use a specific skill or deal a fixed amount of damage when it comes to their turn.

This results in battles that feel relatively lifeless. Basically you just use the cards with the highest damage you have on your hand until the battle is over. It would have been much more entertaining if the enemies posed an actual challenge that requires us to really consider our approach before every battle.

All in all, though, Pirates Outlaws is still a decent game. The main problem is just that it sets the bar too high and fails to deliver. That said, the game only costs a dollar, so if you like the settings and the novelty, it is a pretty solid pickup. Check it out on Google Play.