A game where you're the ship that blocked the Suez Canal

A ship sailing up an unrealistic Suez Canal.
(Image credit: Napas Torteeka)

In late March this year a giant container ship got wedged in the Suez Canal, and blocked one of the world's biggest trade routes entirely for six days. This obviously happened at a time when most of us were still sitting at home with our shirts off, so the world became obsessed with the story for a few days, and the ship and efforts to un-stick it became a meme. Good times.

Thing is, as experts were at pains to point out while we all had a good laugh, piloting something of this size through the Suez Canal is actually really difficult. An indie developer by the name of Napas Torteeka certainly noticed, and Whatever is a not-entirely-serious attempt to present the challenges of a container ship's captain in game form (thanks, 80.lv).

"You will cry and finally realise how amazing every cargo ship's captain is," reads the game's Steam page. "Because it is extremely hard to pilot that !$@%!$# 200,000-tonne cargo ship with their extreme inertia through the canal!"

A ship in a fantasy Suez Canal.

(Image credit: Napas Tadeeki)

The game is "a singleplayer cargo boat drifting game at its core" and will launch in early access on September 7. I'm pleased to see that the "high priority" additional features to follow post-launch are "more canal" and details like exploding cargo. But the game is being released in what the developer considers a complete form, with nine stages and two bosses.

Yes, apparently at one point Godzilla turns up in the Suez Canal.

A ship in a fantasy Suez Canal.

(Image credit: Napas Tadeeki)

There's also UFOs in some of the screens so, yeah: if you're after an accurate reflection of the challenges faced by the captains of giant cargo ships, this may veer off-piste. But it's fun to see the real world bleed into games, even in a silly manner, and remember when were all laughing at a big ship that got stuck.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."