One Piece: World Seeker is a solid attempt at an open-world licensed anime game but the same attention to world building isn’t applied to its gameplay to craft something that’s truly memorable.
One Piece: World Seeker has so many solid ideas on paper that, if executed properly, should’ve made it one of the best-licensed anime games on the market right now. However, as you might’ve guessed, the game presents these ideas well enough but never fully executes them properly to make for an enjoyable, and more importantly, fun experience. While One Piece: World Seeker isn’t an amazing game by any stretch, it may be one that longtime fans of the series can pick up and enjoy, and it certainly has the basis for a sequel that could be a lot better.
World Seeker takes place in Jail Island, which is located in the New World. There’s a very interesting premise for this story even if it’s one that’s non-canonical to the anime. Following the death of the island’s leader, Jail Island becomes unstable with political and economic turmoil as the Navy steps in alongside those who are anti-Navy. Of course, the Straw-Hat Pirates find themselves at the center of this conflict.
Players may be disappointed to hear that you’ll be experiencing this adventure as Luffy, while the remaining crew members are left aside as quest-givers who make an occasional appearance throughout the plot. On top of this, none of the new characters introduced inOne Piece: World Seeker are particularly interesting. However, fans might find more to latch onto when it comes to the game’s traversal and open-world.
While I’d say the open-world in One Piece: World Seeker is pretty barebones when compared to more critically-acclaimed games in the genre, it’s undoubtedly pretty and fun to run around in. There were plenty of moments I found myself gazing over a large vista, with the game’s Steel City in the background accompanied by some mountains and open ocean. In these moments, One Piece: World Seeker truly feels quite adventurous.
As you progress through the game you’ll be given skill points that’ll improve Luffy’s Gum-Gum abilities which in turn allows you to traverse the world easier and fling yourself across large distances. These moments are admittedly cool and made me feel like I was controlling the iconic series protagonist with ease. It’s certainly no Spider-Man when it comes to traversal, but what we’ve gotten here is pretty solid.
It’s at the ground level where One Piece: World Seeker suffers the most. Combat is really clunky and uninteresting just a couple of hours into the experience. Luffy has the same combo strings over and over again with little to no variation and it gets boring fast. Enemy AI is about as good as you’d expect and isn’t awful, but it’s nowhere near up to modern standards.
I’d say the most infuriating thing about combat is One Piece: World Seeker’s incredibly harsh difficulty spike about six or seven hours in. This difficulty never really carries over to grunt enemies, but when pitted against some of the bosses things can feel really, really cheap. So much so that I found myself having to completely opt towards cheap mechanics to overcome some difficult fights. That’s not very fun at all. When paired with the game’s loading screens every time you die, things also get frustrating.
This is even more difficult because the combat’s two main mechanics, attacking and dodging, don’t flow together well at all. Once you’re committed to Luffy’s combo string, there’s no getting out. You can take your hand off the attack button which will cause Luffy to stop attacking, but there’s a period in between that moment and your ability to do anything again where you’re basically a sitting duck. I think a lot of the game’s arbitrary difficulty could’ve been alleviated if you were able to dodge during combos, especially since you’ll be consistently going up against more than one enemy. This almost seems like a given as we’ve seen other games do this before and things typically turn out for the better because of it.
Quests are littered throughout the world of One Piece: World Seeker. There’s never too many to the point where things feel overwhelming but there’s a decent number to take on. None of these quests really amount to anything though outside of collecting various items or beating down a couple of enemies which is a shame. There are tiny sub-plots in side quests but none are very interesting. I did find some enjoyment in finding various items and collectible chests as they encouraged me to explore the map a bit more, but the fun in this may wear off fast for some.
There are a variety of systems in the game that could make for some great side content, but they don’t. You’re able to develop your relationship with multiple factions and characters across the island but it never feels like any of these bonds are meaningful, nor did I really care what sort of rewards I would gain from them. Additionally, you can interact with each Straw-Hat Pirate in different ways. Usopp and Franky work as the game’s crafters, while Sanji can cook and send other crew members out with a meal to search for items. All of these things sound interesting but you never get much more than what they are at face value. Equipment never feels rewarding and the items you get are just that, items.
One feature that I really liked in One Piece: World Seeker is the ability to create your own playlist with the game’s soundtrack. Some of the most iconic anime of all time is accompanied by incredible music. While you won’t find any original One Piece music in this game, it’s got a really fun set of songs and the ability to listen to those songs anywhere, in any order is a welcome feature that I hope more games adopt. Also, this might just be something I noticed, but the game’s opening music is really great and totally took me back to the licensed anime game openings from the GameCube, Xbox, and PS2 era. I found myself playing it over and over again in the actual game.
One Piece: World Seeker is a commendable attempt at adapting the anime into an open-world game. While it never reaches the grand heights of other open-world games, there’s a solid foundation here that I hope will be applied and expanded on a sequel of some sort. If you’re a fan of the series and anime games in general, you’ll probably be able to get past some of the clunkier features in the game, and if you are, you’ll have some fun occasionally. In the end, World Seeker, unfortunately, amounts to another licensed anime game with so much more potential than what we got.