Here's a quirky little game with excellent sailing ships to explore and battle in

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A curious little indie launched last week, a game where you sail customizable ships across a vibrantly-colored fantasy archipelago in search of ancient secrets, battling monsters and pirates while exploring new islands. Players and developers call it something between the vibes of Wind Waker and the third-person sailing combat of games like Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, both much loved in their time. 

As you explore the islands you grow your crew, u nlocking new ships, equipment, and places to go. You can build up a small collection of ships, over time, specializing them for different jobs. There are also lots of weird NPCs to meet, like frog people, and fishing to do.

What you probably don't expect to hear next is that Sail Forth has a shockingly realistic simulation of sailing for its genre and appearance. While it's very much accessible to the casual player, it has details like separately simulated wind and sails that'll get anyone who loves a tall ship excited. That allows you to properly incorporate jargon-y sailing techniques like tacking, jibes, heaves, and cuts.

It's certainly a pretty game, with both sealife like dolphins and whales as well as a diverse array of islands separated into several regions available. There's sea ice, towering lighthouses, and sandy palms to see out there. It's quite pretty!

Not all pretty, of course, and vicious sea monsters as well as pirates and privateers have to be beaten to make the seas properly safe again for all their weird inhabitants, fishpeople, and anglers.

Sail Forth is made by a small team, Festive Vector, consisting of a programmer/designer with contributions by a sound artist and a pair of writers. You can find out more on sailforth.com (opens in new tab).

You can find Sail Forth on Epic Games (opens in new tab) and Steam (opens in new tab) for $20. Looks like a pretty good Steam Deck game to me, and some reports say it works fine, but it isn't officially signed off on yet. Let's close on some screenshots and gifs, shall we?

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.