Curse of the Sea Rats – Review
Follow Genre: Metroidvania
Developer: Petoons Studio
Publisher: PQube
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: Switch

Curse of the Sea Rats – Review

Site Score
Good: Beautiful hand-drawn art style
Bad: Lack of polish hurts the overall gameplay experience
User Score
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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

You’ve heard of a Metroidvania, but do you know what a Ratroidvania is? Indie developer Petoons Studio is billing their latest title, Curse of the Sea Rats, with this portmanteau. Brought to us by publisher PQUbe, Curse of the Sea Rats is a rat-themed Metroidvania platformer with an absolutely gorgeous art style and a pirate theme, so it’s sure to gain the attention of Metroidvania enthusiasts and pirate fans alike. But is the game worth your doubloons or is it cursed from the get-go?


As a very short cutscene shows, the story begins with a prison ship crashing on the coast. Among the prisoners is the pirate witch Flora Burn, who sees an opportunity to escape amidst the confusion of the crash. Before she makes her getaway, however, she turns everyone on the ship into rats and kidnaps the son of the ship’s admiral. Desperate to get his child back, but unable to leave his post, the admiral turns to the other prisoners and offers them a deal. If they retrieve his son and defeat the witch, he’ll drop the charges against them and allow them to go free. It’s an easy enough premise to understand, and that’s a good thing because the writing itself is sub-par. Jokes often feel forced or unnecessary, and the dialogues are shallow. We weren’t exactly expecting Shakespeare-level writing, but what’s present here just isn’t very outstanding. Most of the personalities of each character comes from their visual design, and as we discovered due to an audio glitch, they are all interchangeable in terms of what they actually have to say.


If there’s one thing that Curse of the Sea Rats absolutely nails, it’s the visuals. The game boasts an absolutely beautiful drawn art style. Individual character designs stick to specific tropes, making it easy at a glance to understand what each character is about. We’d go as far as to say that every single character in the game, whether they are an NPC, protagonist, or enemy, wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘90s Disney Afternoon cartoon series. The art style also translates surprisingly well to the actual gameplay, with smooth attack animations. Environments are varied and look fantastic as well, in part due to great atmospheric lighting effects. Overall, Curse of the Sea Rats knocks its art direction out of the park and is perhaps the best-looking Metroidvania we’ve ever laid our eyes on.


The varied environments all come with their own fitting music, occasionally interspersed with piratey-sounding tunes, which helped to tie everything together. We quite liked what the game had to offer in terms of music but the soundscape doesn’t fare as well when it comes to the voice work. While the game does feature voice acting, the quality of the performances is uneven, to say the least, with certain characters phoning it in while others really put effort into their performance. The aforementioned audio glitch happened when we switched characters at a save point right before a cutscene played. The new character then performed their voice lines with the voice of the previous one. Not only was it odd to hear the feisty geisha Akane suddenly speak with the booming voice of brawler Bussa, but it also highlighted how none of the characters have unique lines during cutscenes, which also felt like a missed opportunity to imbue the cast with individual personalities.


When it comes to 2D Metroidvania games, players are spoiled for choice these days. Just recently, we’ve looked at 9 Years of Shadows, Pronty, and Grim Guardians: Demon Purge, just to name a few. As such, Curse of the Sea Rats certainly has its work cut out if it wants to stand out from the crowd. Apart from the gorgeous hand-drawn art style, Petoons Studio banks on the game’s multiplayer gimmick as its main unique selling point. Up to four players can team up to tackle whatever the game throws at them, although taking everything on solo is also an option. Sadly, Curse of the Sea Rats doesn’t live up to what it promises in terms of gameplay. While the game isn’t a complete failure, there are a handful of issues present here that prevent the game from reaching its full potential. Granted, we tackled the game as a single-player experience, but we didn’t feel like we were missing out on much by limiting ourselves to this. Perhaps the game becomes a little easier when teaming up with a handful of buddies, but some of the inherent flaws can’t be fixed by multiplayer gameplay and would need a significant patch instead.

Each of the four playable characters has its own combat style. The de facto leader of our rag-tag band of criminals-turned-heroes is David Douglas, who fights using a cutlass and is probably the most straightforward character to use. Next up is Buffalo Calf, a Native American huntress who wields daggers and is able to throw them as a ranged option. Bussa is our brawler, able to punch enemies to a pulp with his massive fist. Rounding things out is Akane, who uses a katana for fast attacks. Each of these characters has a unique move-set, which bodes well for replayability, but the game does miss an opportunity in that you don’t need to use these unique abilities to overcome environmental obstacles. There is no incentive to change characters and we feel like if Curse of the Sea Rats would have allowed for on-the-fly character swapping and making use of each character outside of combat, it would have made for a far more engaging game. You can still change characters whenever you reach a save point but there is no real reason to do so when you find a character that suits your personal playstyle.

As this is a Metroidvania, a lot of emphasis is put on exploration and being able to visit areas once new abilities are unlocked. In Curse of the Sea Rats, these abilities are tied to a skill tree. Rather than the classic Metroidvania formula of having to track down a specific item to unlock a skill, you instead purchase them with orbs which you obtain from killing enemies. This actually means that you can grind your way through the early parts of the game, racking up orbs. While this makes boss fights considerably easier, it also makes for a game that feels awkwardly paced and unbalanced. Not that Curse of the Sea Rats is an easy title, but that’s not by design.

The unintended difficulty is perhaps the most egregious thing about Curse of the Sea Rats, as it can be blamed on an overall lack of polish. Collision detection often feels off, with hitboxes not registering correctly. We had a couple of instances where we made contact with an enemy without dishing out any damage but taking plenty of it in return. This also applies to environmental hazards, with spikes in particular hurting us without it being clear that we actually touched them. Pitfalls were also inconsistent, either dealing a little damage and returning us to safe grounds, or causing instant death. These inconsistencies made for a game that felt unfair and frustrating to play at times, and we can imagine that more casual players will be put off by this.

Of course, there are those players that are gluttons for punishment and are always looking for a challenge. These certainly have their work cut out for them here, at least until a patch balances certain things out, and even then it’s likely that there is plenty of challenge remaining. Boss battles in particular are a highlight and there are plenty of side quests and secrets to sniff out, but given how flawed the core experience is, it’s difficult to recommend Curse of the Sea Rats based solely on its gorgeous art style and the multiplayer gimmick. Neither of these are good enough to get over the inherent issues that are present, and with the stiff competition the game faces in the Metroidvania genre, we’d suggest waiting for a patch. Once some of the kinks are ironed out, that €19.99 price tag starts to look a lot more reasonable.


Despite absolutely amazing visuals, an enjoyable soundtrack, and a simple enough-to-follow premise, we can’t quite recommend Curse of the Sea Rats in its current state. The gameplay simply isn’t up to par with what you can reasonably expect from a 2D Metroidvania title, and the game needs some serious patching up before it gets our seal of approval. It is by no means unplayable, and it can be completed as is, but it’s an unintentionally cumbersome affair. We really wanted to love this game, and we’re hoping that a few months down the line, Petoons Studio is able to turn things around, but right now, you’re better off seeking your Metroidvania kicks elsewhere.

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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Curse of the Sea Rats - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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