"Adventure Time is a uniquely funny, profound cartoon full of personality, and Pirates of the Enchiridion appears to be an earnest attempt to capture what makes the TV show special."
Cartoon enthusiasts familiar with the exploits of Jake the dog and Finn the human now have an RPG specific to their tastes. At E3, RPGFan received a live demo of Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion by designer Rhys Cadle of Climax Studios. The British developer's goal in designing Pirates of the Enchiridion was to capture the color and character of the TV show, and from our limited time with the game they appear to have succeeded.
Pirates of the Enchiridion begins with Finn, Jake, and BMO spending the evening out on the balcony of their treehouse, only for Finn and Jake to wake up in the middle of an ocean. The Ice Kingdom has melted and as a result flooded a large portion of the Land of Ooo. Finn and Jake locate a nearby abandoned boat with JEFF emblazoned on the rear (the boat's name was determined by fan vote), and our two heroes sail on the good ship Jeff towards the Ice Kingdom to investigate.
Pirates of the Enchiridion is written by Adventure Time game creating veterans, with some oversight from Cartoon Network producers to make sure that the script retains the unique feel of the show. All of the characters in Pirates of the Enchiridion have their TV show voice actors reprise their roles, but a few Climax Studios employees voiced penguins and other background NPCs. Finn and Jake sing a variety of sea shanties as they travel on Jeff, and these clever songs both reflect the musical DNA of Adventure Time and serve as recaps for the game's plot and reminders for upcoming quests. On foot, Finn can smash obstacles with his sword and Jake can morph into a scooter for faster travel.
Sailing Jeff through Ooo's new inland sea is key in Pirates of the Enchiridion. All of the important locations in the game are newly-minted islands, and sailing between them while fighting pirates, grabbing floating crates and message bottles, and singing salty sailor songs is central gameplay feature. Characters use Dosh (Pirates of the Enchiridion's currency) to upgrade skills, with skill caps set by character levels. Everything from specific stats to special moves and the size of the special move meter revolves around spending Dosh for upgrades, so getting Overkill bonuses for extra fight rewards and snatching all those sea crates are worth it.
Combat is brisk and turn-based, with Finn, Jake, BMO, and Marceline as the playable characters. Using an item doesn't waste a turn, and there's a shared meter for special moves (like Flower Points in Super Mario RPG or S. Moves in Skies of Arcadia). The attack animations were smooth and expressive, with Jake's moves centering on his transforming powers and Finn's attacks using a variety of different swords. Enemies are always visible in-world, so some encounters can be avoided. We didn't see BMO or Marceline in action during the demo. Pirates of the Enchiridion has several more Adventure Time mainstay characters in supporting roles, including Princess Bubblegum, Peppermint Butler, and Lumpy Space Princess.
In addition to traditional RPG fights, there are a few dialog battles in the form of interrogation segments. In these, Finn and Jake simultaneously question a hesitant or unwilling subject, and alternate being nice and mean to elicit different responses. Players determine the best approach via context clues, and then choose from a good-cop-bad-cop menu to act. There is no fail-state in Pirates of the Enchiridion interrogations, but players receive more detailed information and better XP and Dosh rewards from stronger performances.
A single playthrough of Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion should take at least 8 or 9 hours, with a total playtime of 14+ hours should players indulge in side quests. Pirates of the Enchiridion was made in Unity, and releases worldwide on July 17th on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One. Adventure Time is a uniquely funny, profound cartoon full of personality, and Pirates of the Enchiridion appears to be an earnest attempt to capture what makes the TV show special. Come on, grab your friends.