Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler is a point-and-click adventure game by Venture Moon Industries. A Kickstarter project turned Steam release, it reminds me of a children’s game, a la Barbie’s Island. This isn’t to say that it’s terrible, but I have to wonder if that’s the result they were going for.
As with other games in this genre, the mechanics for Duke Grabowski are very simple – use your mouse to click on various places or items to either walk or interact with them. This quickly makes the game a bit repetitive, as there’s really only three things you can do: walk to thing, interact with thing, and pick up thing. Of course, “interact” also includes talking to the inhabitants of the island.
Duke’s quest is to woo three ladies to prove he can be the next captain of the ship – a task given to him by one of his more clever shipmates as they believe he will never be able to do it. Turns out, this clever shipmate might not be so clever, since completing this task (and the game) only takes about 3 hours. The dialogue is quippy and lighthearted, but mostly stuffed full of groan-worthy puns. It becomes painful when you realize you have to go through this with everyone on the island, maybe multiple times, because they might have some item you need to complete your goal.
As for atmosphere, I really liked the brightly colored backgrounds and the overall soundtrack. They work together to portray Bodacious Bay (yes, that’s really the name) as a bustling and fun town. But, while I’d say there’s nothing very wrong with Duke Grabowski, there’s also nothing very memorable. Pushing aside the mild misogynistic undertones for a few laughs, I found myself wondering why a swashbuckler was doing such mundane tasks in the first place. Was I really the hero of the story, or just playing out what it feels like to be the butt of a lame joke?
I have no idea if this is Venture Moon’s first game, but it certainly feels like it; there’s a certain “unfinished” quality. Some good news is that it is the first of several planned chapters. It’s a decent maiden voyage, but I would love to see some more oomph in the next one.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
The mighty game of "meh."
Plot - 4.0/10
Design - 8.0/10
Gameplay - 5.0/10
Duke Grabowski, Mighty Swashbuckler is a decent first attempt, but I’m hoping the next releases by Venture Moon Industries have more character development, interesting stories, and better game mechanics.