Hello. I’m Benjamin Wagner, this is my blog and today I start a new series, so to speak. I play a lot of video games and have always had quite a lot of difficulty stopping, even when I’m not enjoying the product. But that stops now. I have decided that when a game gets too bland or too unenjoyable, I will just stop. And it brings me great shame that the first game of 2022 to fall into this bracket is One Piece World Seeker on the PS4. I am a huge fan of One Piece. Without it, I would have not only not been interested in anime, but my interest in video games would also be lower, I wouldn’t be learning Japanese and I would most likely still be working in my dead-end office job at my uncle’s factory. It isn’t that much of an exaggeration to say that One Piece has well and truly changed my life.
One Piece, as a media franchise, is a giant. It has over 100 volumes of manga, 1000 episodes of anime, is popular all around the world and has many, many video games under its belt. Some of these try something different but most end up as either fighting games or, in recent times, spinoffs to the Dynasty Warriors franchise. And that is why World Seeker was an exciting game. It’s an open-world RPG with the Straw Hat Pirates exploring a new island with new characters and a story that features writing by the mangaka Oda himself. And with not just multiple good One Piece games under their belt but also co-developing Wii Fit U for the Wii U, the developer Ganbarion seemed to be a safe pair of hands also. But, to my great disappointment, World Seeker has ended up as one of the dullest and flawed experiences I have ever dipped into. Here is why:
Well, first of all, the game performs poorly. Playing this game on a PS5, really puts into perspective how many games struggle to reach a consistent 30 frames per second. It seems to me as if the ambition in this one really impacted the performance of this game as from the first moments just running around some fairly barren and empty landscapes, the game chugs and struggles to keep with itself. This is just the same in combat where the game isn’t unplayable but it does jerk and stutter fairly often. Speaking of combat, it’s bad. Considering the number of games this developer has made around the One Piece series, you would expect them to understand what they’re making. Even the fairly recent One Piece Unlimited World Red managed to implement semi-open areas with some fairly enjoyable and fluid movement and combat options. World Seeker manages to take this fluid combat and make it a jerky, stop-start mess. Moves don’t combo together fluidly and special attacks are far from special; just sort of happening and making you wait a second before moving again. Movement around the world is just as disappointing as you can use Luffy’s Gum-Gum Rocket move to whip around the environments but the barren nature of the world and the stubbornness of the camera and lock-on systems makes the thing such a chore, I’d often just run around instead.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that in a game based on a franchise with not tens, not hundreds but multiple hundreds of interesting and varied characters, there is one playable character in the game. You play as Luffy and that is it. Every other character is just an NPC to be rescued or a feature in cutscenes. Luffy is a fine character and playing as just him could have worked. Maybe. But the fact is, he is boring to play because the combat system in this game is poor. It also tries to incorporate stealth elements into the mix and this is not only clunky but goes against Luffy’s character. It’s a baffling choice that makes the game incredibly dull. That’s the keyword here: dull. One Piece World Seeker isn’t fun. At no point in my hour and a half playtime did I enjoy myself. Well… I suppose the introduction to the story itself is fine enough. The idea of a prison island has been done in the anime before and the original characters that have been created are interesting. It’s just a shame that the game around this is such a joke.
Honestly, going forward, I wish less for a big open world game and more for a strong 2D fighter. I would really love a big open-world game, don’t get me wrong, but I fear that the game would never be given the studio or budget to do it justice. Instead, a 2D fighter is much more budget-friendly and, with the wealth of characters at their disposal, a much more manageable proposition. Even with just the characters from the East Blue Arc would fill a fighting game roster so, with the number of characters the series has to offer, it is shocking that there isn’t a Dragonball Fighterz style One Piece game with endless DLC to take advantage of the fans of the series.
Regardless of my wishes, One Piece World Seeker is not the game I wanted it to be and it has dampened my hopes for a big AAA anime game going forward. There is definitely something here for One Piece fans, as the art style is good, the new characters are well designed and the story seems very authentic to the series. It’s just a shame that the game around it is utter tosh.
Thanks for reading. I’ve been Benjamin Wagner and I endorse this sad message.