Pirates of Black Cove by Paradox Interactive review

Strategy swashbuckler that leaves our timbers less than shivered
Photo of Pirates of Black Cove by Paradox Interactive

Everyone, it seems, loves a pirate – and thanks in no small measure to the recent Pirates of the Caribbean films, their popularity shows no signs of diminishing. Paradox Interactive have decided to ride the crest of this wave by devising a tongue-in-cheek budget version of every pirate cliché, throwing in a mix of Sid Meier’s Pirates! and the cartoon comedy of the Monkey Island games, more recently reprised by Telltale Games.

Pirates of Black Cove lets you choose one of three types of pirate captain with corresponding special abilities, and the aim of the game is for you to perform a series of tasks for the three main rogue groups (Pirates, Corsairs and Buccaneers) until you’re in a position to become the Pirate King.

Scurvy knaves on sea and land
The action is divided into two sections – ship-to-ship combat and land-based RTS-style missions where the invariable formula is to come ashore with your merry band, fight all comers along a predetermined path to the top of the map and then trudge back to the embarkation area once you’ve achieved your aim.

Items that can later be used to turn into potions can be collected in the ocean and stronger, faster and better-equipped ships can be bought once you’ve collected enough blueprints from sunken vessels and amassed enough gold. You’re allowed three fighting shipmate types per mission (grunts, ranged and specialists) with ‘heroes’ unlocked in later stages.

If you don’t expect too much from this game, you’ll probably some most fun out of it. The comedy is mixed (1,000 jokes are there to pick up), voice acting is deliberately self-mocking and neither the sea nor land battles will tax any serious naval warfare fan.

If the next edition improves the creakingly slow navigation time and removes the ‘trudge back to the dock’ sequence, this seadog might have some legs.

Company: Paradox Interactive

Website: http://www.blackcovegame.com/

  • There's plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour.
  • Walking back to the ship, it repetitious and painful.


What Pirates of Black Cove manages to do is keep the fun in buccaneering, while offering an undemanding combination of ship-to-ship warfare and RTS-style land battles. It tries too hard to be too many things at once - but it may keep some amused.