Pirates Outlaws is the latest CCG roguelike to try and emulate Slay the Spire on mobile. While it’s a pretty welcome site on a platform quite sparse on that genre’s front, it’s not quite up to snuff.
As the name suggests, this CCG features all things pirates. You’ll select your favourite class of pirate from a standard gunner all the way up to a cursed captain or a rich admiral.
Each class has a different starting deck, skin, and unique ability, though you’ll have to work to unlock each of them.
There are six classes in total, and each costs a considerable sum of gold, which you’ll earn during each adventure.
You’ll also earn reputation, a secondary currency that you have to earn a bunch of to unlock later classes. These pirates won’t just follow any old captain, after all, but it also prevents you from just buying your way to victory via IAPs.
Pirates Outlaws costs about a mere dollar
That’s right, while Pirates Outlaws is a premium experience at an, admittedly inexpensive, price of a dollar, there are a bunch of IAPs you can grab to boost the experience. These range from standard gold purchases to boosters that grant you more experience, reputation, and gold.
However, there’s nothing greedy about these IAPs, as you can earn every single one of them by simply playing the game. It’ll just take quite some time.
In terms of gameplay, it’s a pretty standard roguelike CCG, just with a pirate twist. You’ll choose from one of three islands to explore – the latter two of which you unlock with gold and reputation.
Once you’ve selected, you’ll plot a course between a bunch of different islands. Each time you head to a different island you’ll experience a new random event, from battles to taverns, shops, and more random happenings.
Along the way, you’ll pick up new cards to add to your deck, relics that provide passive bonuses, and gold that you can spend in shops on new cards and relics.
Each level is a series of random events followed by a boss battle
Eventually, you’ll hit a boss battle that will prove more difficult than an average battle, requiring all of your skills and deck knowledge to progress.
Beat the boss and you’ll head to the next area to explore. Overall, you’ll have to battle through three different areas to successfully complete a run, which provides the maximum rewards.
In terms of battle, it’s all pretty standard stuff. You’ll often face multiple opponents and can play cards that represent shields, bullet shots, punches, and sword swipes.
Most cards have an ‘ammo’ cost to play, which you can restore by playing an ammo card in your deck. Managing this is where the main source of skill comes into play, as you can play all cards in your hand each round. Your hand doesn’t grow in size over time.
Our biggest criticism of the battle system is the lack of animations. The developer has gone to such a big effort to provide lovely character art for your character and enemies, but they don’t actually do anything when they attack.
The battle system lacks depth and animations
Not only that, but the experience just generally doesn’t feel as deep or compelling as Night of the Full Moon, its biggest competitor on mobile. That’s likely down to the fact that enemies don’t actually have a deck – they just deal a set amount of damage or use a particular skill during their round.
The result feels a little lifeless, with you just using the highest damage cards in your deck each round until the battle’s over. We longed for the interesting enemies in Night of the Full Moon, which often required us to completely change our approach to each battle.
Overall, while Pirates Outlaws isn’t quite up there with Slay the Spire or its biggest mobile competitor Night of the Full Moon, it’s still a solid roguelike CCG in its own right.
Its biggest advantage is that it costs a mere dollar to pick up, so if you’re short on cash it suddenly becomes a much more enticing option. Just don’t expect the same level of polish as its competitors.
A swashbuckling adventure
Pirates Outlaws is a solid enough roguelike card battler that just doesn't do enough to compete with competitors like Night of the Full Moon and Slay the Spire.