With a heartbroken tower punishing a tribes greed with a treacherous storm, a lone sailor works on returning Chimes to said tower. Players get to build their own boats to sail the waters, but building the perfect raft requires balance. Make Sail is a special, charming adventure but feels a bit rocky on the waters.
It’s common knowledge that sailing in a storm is a hard task. Right? Sailing in the eye of the storm however, can be a touch different. Media often portrays the eye of a storm as being the calmest area, and while that’s true, Popcannibal’s Make Sail goes a bit more in-depth. Rather than total calm, you’re instead faced with swirling spirals of strong winds that carry you around on your little boat.
The tower sits at the centre of the map looking all innocent, awaiting the return of its magical Chime Stones. The protagonist is the one to complete this task, and with each Chime returned the storm gets pushed further back. This reveals more areas to travel to and more Chime stones! New obstacles. boat parts and beasts that seem to float in the air are among them.
While the story is strong to start, it doesn’t really continue on and becomes forgotten, and that’s probably because the boat construction is the focus for Make Sail. You’re able to create the boat of your dreams. Well, sort of. You’re given total freedom, but limited parts to start, and overall it has to float. While constructing can be fun, the snapping parts together is a bit clumsy which results in some misplaced parts, but once you get everything attached you can set sail.
There’s a fairly diverse range of items available to collect and use on your boats, such as various sized planks, barrels for buoyancy, and varying sails. It’s a shame that some of the parts can’t be tailored more to your likings such as custom colours and patterns. Thankfully it’s just fun to build different boats and set sail in them.
Make Sail is fairly easy to understand. Sailing might be a bit tiresome and brutish at times, but the ship customisation keeps you coming back for more
The boat is delicate and runs the risk of breaking apart from crashing into shorelines or rocks. The balance between the size of your ship and how floaty it is has to be controlled as this can also contribute to the boat breaking. I had moments in which the boat either sank, or floated too much that it broke apart. There’s also the sail placement and amount to think about. Too many will cause the boat to go too fast, and if they’re all placed near the front the boat just…tips.
Should the boat break, items aren’t lost and simply return to the inventory automatically allowing for instant re-builds without having to scavenge for parts like Sonic and his rings. Of course, manually building every part of your boat might not be to your liking, which is where blueprints come in. These can be found the same way as items by just travelling about and if you have the required parts, ships can be built instantly.
While constructing can be fun, the snapping parts together is a bit clumsy which results in some misplaced parts
The wind flows through the world around the tower in a clockwise motion. Forcing your boat to follow. While a cool concept to begin with, you do start to get bored of not being able to fight against the wind and end up having to travel in a large circle once more. This can be countered eventually when you start to locate generators to give your boat more power.
The eye of the storm isn’t always calm however with occasional storms coming in. This can be made worse if you have Twitch features enabled as viewers are able to trigger storms within Make Sail’s world by using the streams chat. Annoyingly it seems like there’s no real limit to this and if your viewers are irritating enough, expect to be stuck in a storm. While a cool feature, some moderation needs to be implemented.
There’s another Twitch integration element that names discovered islands after viewers and even boats. The islands are procedurally generated with each game created, so utilising this mode allows streamers to connect more with their audience. Clever idea.
The sound work is great and may make you need the toilet frequently but also feels calming. It looks unique too, with Make Sail bearing a sort of rustic, soft feel that makes the game feel gentle and less intense than the concept puts across. The wind flowing is visible which helps with navigation without needing to consult the mini-map, and chimes and parts have long columns beaming into the sky.
While the HUD is informative and stands out, I can’t help but feel it stands out too much. The Mini-map is a bit of the large side and eats into the screen. There’s also a button guide area visible in the bottom right that could do with going as well, or at least being there for the start.
Make Sail is fairly easy to understand. Sailing might be a bit tiresome and brutish at times, but the ship customisation keeps you coming back for more. The boat builds are limited to your imagination but could do with a refined snapping system, or X, Y, Z movement locking system to make the task quicker. I’d also enjoy seeing some type of multiplayer mode so a friend could jump in and help collect chimes.
Make Sail is an enjoyable game with a calming tone to it. There could be more story elements included to change up the wading back and forth from grabbing Chimes as it can get boring. The customisation is where the title shines and it’d be awesome to get a sandbox mode for those who just want a creative experience without the story. I’m interested to see how the title develops over time because it certainly keeps you wanting to play more.
Make Sail is available on Steam and is in Early Access
A code was provided to complete this piece