Burly Men at Sea is a pleasant little game reminiscent of fanciful childhood stories. Described by many as a visual novel, this title developed by Brain&Brain follows the adventures of three burly and bearded Scandinavian men as they set sail looking for adventure. Their escapades bring them into contact with creatures from folklore along with several odd characters that fit seamlessly into the world the game creates.
Burly Men at Sea begins with the three protagonists discovering an empty sea chart. After asking around, they set off in their boat to see what awaits them. I won’t say much more about the plot since that’s the game’s primary feature, but I will say that the various events, encounters, and easter eggs were entertaining.
The game has twelve endings with each similar to the end of a child’s picture book. Playing through more than one ending feels like the subsequent chapter in the lives of these burly men. The game gently reminds you at the end of a playthrough that there are more adventures to be had, and a book is placed on a shelf as a visual reminder of your progress.
The game does have a sort of looping narrative that some might find too repetitive. I didn’t mind this aspect though. For a lowkey Sunday afternoon, I found Burly Men at Sea to be perfectly relaxing. Each of the game’s endings took between roughly twenty to thirty-five minutes and require you to select alternate paths and manipulate elements in different ways.
I found the minimalistic and clean art style to be quite endearing. This, along with the music, sound effects, and contextual use of language (I mean, when was the last time you read the word “maelstrom”?) created a genuine world in which I was happy to explore for a few hours.
Really the only negative thing I can say about the game is that during a few events I wasn’t immediately sure what my goal was. On the other hand, I always eventually figured out what I was supposed to be doing, and I rather enjoyed not having my hand held through those segments and the rest of the game.
If you have a few hours and $10 to spare, I recommend Burly Men at Sea if only for its relaxing and playful nature. On the surface, it appears incredibly simple, but its simplicity is what makes it enjoyable.
Burly Men at Sea is available for PC, PS4/Vita, iOS, and Android.