High Sea Saga is another Kairosoft game so expect the usual faces (Sally Prin, Kairobot, etc). This is the closest yet perhaps to a pure RPG: there’s very little in the way of city SIM other than arranging rooms around and no real “events”. You sail from island to island conquering them and fighting pirate ships, collecting and upgrading crew members. You can also fight other players (it doesn’t matter if they’re online or not – and if they lose, they get a medal) and also attempt daily monster campaigns to kill x number of monster y. If you have friends, their kills count towards the total.
The IAP in this game has been controversial. Really, it’s a $20 game (in Australian dollars anyway). To play it properly you need to buy the “Gold Pass” as well as (and this is something I object to) the separate ad removal, unless you can cope with the irritation and loss of screen area from the ads. Ad removal is clearly something that should clearly have been bundled with the Gold Pass but Kairosoft are out for your cash with this one. Fortunately on iOS, the Gold Pass is a one-time purchase, not monthly as it apparently is on Android. But on Android it appears there are much easier ways to get medals, and medals are critical for buying and upgrading characters.
On the upside, this is a very long game and if you decide to replay on Nightmare mode you will get months of play. Months because every consecutive day you play you’ll earn medals, and you only ever get a limited amount (unless you pay squillions for them in IAP), and you’ll also get prizes for playing x number of days straight. Plus you’ll be endlessly waiting for your stamina to refill unless you spend medals to refill it (I don’t recommend wasting them this way).
There are two ways to win the basic game. You can either figure out the complex monster hatching and training system and get and upgrade to a couple of top level ones that are literally impenetrable. (I must confess, I gave up despite spending ages on the Wiki looking at the colour bars). Or you can invest hours in training up your crew members and taking them through all the jobs multiple times and upgrade all their equipment. My two front fighters had been upgraded to Fiend 5+ times by the time I eventually won.
It’s grindy. It’s really, really grindy. It’s a life suck. I played it because I got sucked in, but you really need to make a decision on this. I don’t think the game is playable at 5-minute stamina refills (gold gets you down to 2-minutes). On higher battle levels, P2P ship battles (the best way to get a lot of cash quickly) can be 42 stamina. (You’ll probably only have about 80 stamina max by this time). Do the maths: that’s one battle every 3.5 hours. Absurd right? The stamina system is utterly unfair and broken.
Ultimately, I did enjoy this game though the earlier stages were more fun. If you’re torn between this and another game, get the other game. If you have time and money to burn, this is potentially a good choice.