Playing Rogue-inspired games can sometimes be a bit of a solitary experience, but the upcoming roguelite Ship of Fools from Team17 and Quebec developer Fika Productions aims to make dying and retrying a social event. The game places you and a partner aboard a small boat and it’s up to you to work together to fend off waves of enemies coming at you from all sides. Essentially, the game is a combination of traditional roguelite mechanics and party-style co-op games like Overcooked and Moving Out (both of which were also published by Team17).
Ship of Fools’ concept is certainly clever, but I imagine you still have some questions. Thankfully, I recently had the chance to ask Fika Productions CEO and co-founder Antoine Grégoire-Slight about a few things, including where Ship of Fools lands on the roguelike difficulty scale, whether the game will still be fun solo, the possibility of post-launch content, and more. Scroll on down for the full discussion…
There aren't exactly a shortage of indie games with roguelike elements these days. Aside from “You’re on a boat!” what sets Ship of Fools apart from the crowded pack?
The main unique selling point of Ship of Fools is how it’s been built from the keel up for co-op. Unlike a lot of roguelites, where the second player experience feels tacked on, in Ship of Fools you can really help each other and make a powerful duo. Add to that a kickass dynamic soundtrack, charming characters, and unique game mechanics, and you have all the ingredients for cooking up a roguelite that stands out.
Could you give our readers a quick rundown of Ship of Fools’ rogue-ish mechanics? Is it a roguelike? More of a roguelite?
The game loop follows a classic roguelite formula: you start from a hub area and set off to try and beat the game's final boss by doing ‘runs’. As you journey across the Archipelago you will sink quite often, so there are plenty of meta-progression unlocks to help you in your journey.
Where is it on hardcore-ness spectrum?
The game is a tad less hardcore than other roguelite staples like The Binding Isaac, Enter the Gungeon, Dead Cells and Hades. On a scale of Powder Monkey to Captain, Ship of Fools would be a great pick for mates, carpenters, and gunners. Analogy aside, with the co-op aspect of the game, it is perfect for an avid roguelite player to introduce their friends and family to this genre.
The Ship of Fools demo only lets you play through “The Forgotten Waters” area. How many sectors can you play through in the full game?
There are four sectors in the full game.
Is there a specific end-goal to the game and a fleshed-out story leading up to it?
Yes, the end goal is to stop the Aquapocalypse… but will you really stop it? The story is quite lighthearted, and each time you unlock new NPCs you will gather some more info about what is happening and what you need to do next.
Will there be any dedicated endgame content once you achieve your main goal?
For now, the endgame content consists of trying to unlock every Fool, item, cannon and upgrade. There are a ton of builds to discover and try out with more than 100 items in the game.
How many “Fools” are there in Ship of Fools? Which ones are your favorites?
There are two starter Fools and eight to unlock. My favorite one hasn't been revealed yet, so I will talk about my second favorite which is Gill. They have a passive ability of a free harpoon (each of the Fools has their own passive ability); each time you hit your harpoon shot you can do crazy combos with some of the items. It often gives me the same good feeling as going infinite in Magic the Gathering.
Upgrading your ship is cool, but do you ever get the chance to acquire a new one?
Not for now, there’s only the good ship Stormstrider.
You say playing Ship of Fools solo is an option, but is it really? A lot of games designed for co-op technically let you play on your own, but often it isn’t that fun. Does the game adjust if you’re on your own or is it simply more difficult?
Yes, it's fun and the game is adjusted for solo play. Playing by yourself gives you access to an automatic shooting turret that you have to reload and move around; some enemy patterns are also adjusted in solo play, which has been done for fairness. Of course, you have more things to manage, but at least there will be no communication breakdown with a crewmate. The difficulty really depends on your management skills and your crew.
Are there plans to continue supporting Ship of Fools post-launch?
AYE! [...] Adding more endgame content and additional challenges will be our first priority for future updates.
Finally, if you had to sell somebody on Ship of Fools by giving them one example of something crazy they might encounter on its seas, what would it be?
I hesitate between a colossal two-headed half-skeleton sea serpent that has a giant eye in one of its mouths or simply cute hellish penguins that spray fire by sliding around on their belly.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!
Ship of Fools sets sail on PC, Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and Switch on November 22.