One Piece, if you’re not familiar with it, is a manga and anime series about a bunch of pirates. If you have a cursory familiarity with it, you probably associate “One Piece” with the lead character Luffy, who is typically bare-chested, wearing a straw hat, and up to some sort of mischief. Luffy goes adventuring with his merry band of misfits - the Straw Hat Pirates - on his quest to find the mythical One Piece that will make him the pirate king.

Fortunately, although the odds are often stacked against him, Luffy’s consumption of Devil Fruit has given him all sorts of (mostly body-stretching related) abilities which enable him to get out of various scrapes after the requisite tension has been established and peril can, therefore, be handily averted at the last moment.

One Piece: World Seeker Review
you’ll spend ages wandering around, hoping to stumble across whatever you’re looking for so that the game can progress.

Now imagine that character in an open-world action adventure game, during which you must earn skill points to unlock Luffy’s various abilities because reasons, and that’s pretty much World Seeker in a nutshell.

The premise is simple enough; through various attempted piratical narrative shenanigans, our hero finds himself freely roaming an island that is populated primarily by Navy sailors. The Navy being sworn enemies of pirates, combat invariably ensues when Luffy is spotted. There are also a bunch of civilians here, some of whom support the Navy (after all, the Navy's activity on the island is key to the civilian’s prosperity) and some of whom give you quests. The Straw Hat Pirates have gone missing, and it’s up to Luffy (you) to find them so you can get the band back together and set about… I won’t spoil it, the story’s pretty good and certainly on-song for One Piece.

Quests are… mostly super lame. The bulk of them are “go over there and find something” where the “finding” bit is laborious in the extreme. The things you’re finding don’t seem to want to be found, requiring you to randomly run across them most of the time, and the search areas are large - the combination meaning that you’ll spend ages wandering around, hoping to stumble across whatever you’re looking for so that the game can progress. I typically end up mentally gridding the map up and just systematically covering the whole thing - although that is far from guaranteed to work.

One Piece: World Seeker Review
One Piece: World Seeker Review
it’s like someone tried to make a hamburger last longer by blending it up with a litre of water.

If you’re thinking that the quests sound like a way to lengthen the experience, lest it all be over too quickly, I think you could be onto something. The whole game feels like that; it’s like someone tried to make a hamburger last longer by blending it up with a litre of water. Sure, the burger now has more mass and consuming it will take more time, but people that do so are hardly likely to extol the virtues of the chef.

Same deal here. The island is big and beautiful, but there’s really very little point to any of it. You can very quickly uncover the whole map, after which you can zap here there and everywhere - by way of fast travel - at no expense. All that’s really left to do is the quests and, well, instead of satisfaction on completion, it’s frustration throughout the duration that awaits.

The combat itself is pretty fun, and it gets more fun as you spend all those skill points to unlock all manner of perks and abilities. The rate that you earn them is reasonable, too, letting you cement your skill with what you have and then giving you new toys to play with before the old set got boring.

The difficulty settings are commendable as well, with easy actually being easy - letting less-skilled folk explore what the game has to offer (not much, sadly) without any real risk of death. Unfortunately, the enemies you wield your skill against don’t really mix it up much, so repetition sets in quickly. Fortunately (?) you can mostly skip this aspect of the game, outside of scripted sections, making combat - something most action games focus on - entirely optional.

One Piece: World Seeker Review
One Piece: World Seeker Review
Ultimately, it’s weird as hell that a game based on a funny, action-packed manga

There are hints at various sub-systems in the game, including factions you can build rapport with and assorted forms of crafting. None of them really add to the experience, though, and - like the bulk of the game - feel like they’re placeholders the designers planned to explore and expand on later, only to accidentally ship the game before they got around to it.

Presentation is mostly good, and includes well-made cutscenes - complete with objectification of curvy, barely-clad, highly sexualised women because… look I have no idea why this sort of thing still exists in 2019; suffice to say if you liked Bayonetta’s lingering crotch-cam, chances are pretty good you’re going to like One Piece: World Seekers Breast Seeker’s animated interstitials.

Ultimately, it’s weird as hell that a game based on a funny, action-packed manga about a team of misfits, fighting, and stretchy, fruit-based powers is so… boring. It looks good and exploring as Luffy is fun for fans but… it would be so much better if they’d actually included a game. Hell, if you could play more than just Luffy that would have helped too.

Maybe next time?