Crimson: Steam Pirates

Multiplayer:Yes, pass'n'play only
Universal App:No
Purchase for iPhone:None available. Buy an iPad now!
Purchase for iPad:
Crimson: Steam Pirates
Price: Free
User rating:
GD Star Rating
Crimson: Steam Pirates, 7.0 out of 10 based on 13 ratings

Crimson: Steam Pirates represents something of a turn-based strategic game. It is one of the examples of iPad games that tends to depart what is feasible as a conventional physical board game. In principle, the game could be played as some type of miniatures game, but it would require a lot in the way of tabulations and measurements. I think this is an interesting ‘board game’ because it gives us some opportunity to see one of the ways that the mediums open up gaming to us.


The game sets itself up to be a steampunk adventure on the high seas. There is a plot here, but it’s just of just a sketchy excuse for the action. Realistically I feel this game would have had about the same impact as it does without it, but at least the storyline is not incredibly intrusive and does add some atmosphere. There are a few occasional larks, particularly when the purpose for a particular raid is to acquire a party dress. However, I digress.

The game takes place on a top-down view of an oceanic setting, filled with islands waterways, canals, forts, and various steam-powered ships. It is a turn-based strategy game where you trace the trajectory of your individual ships and let them fly. Once a course has been chartered, all ships move simultaneously and if they can fire at a legitimate target they will. Mostly you’ll be manoeuvring ships with the intention to broadside opponent ships or bombard forts. On occasion you may intercept a ship and board them instigating a tactical combat. The combat is done in waves, where you assign crew men to lead a charge. Once assigned the statistics are worked out automatically and your results are returned.

What is unique to this medium is the way that a ship’s course is chartered. You drag a projected trajectory, and the iPad automatically limits you relative to the possible curve of the ship’s movement and the maximum length of travel. It will even highlight for you the range of fire for a given ship. During these tracings you can double speed, range, or spend time repairing.


One of the first things you’ll notice about the game is its episodic format. With the basic game comes about eight scenarios that create a single chapter. It is clear from the game that other chapters will be made available with more scenarios as time goes on. Already you can open up the second chapter of the game.

Probably the second thing you’ll notice is the theme song being completely appropriated from Pirates of the Carribbean. It took at least several bars before the tune became something actually distinguishable from the original theme song. However, that’s just a quibble and not really a detriment to the game. Likely the creators will call it an homage.

What tends to irritate me however is the mix of visual styles. All the presentation in the menus and the opening or closing screens has something of a gritty industrial look (as steampunk should). However, you are then transported to a fairly colourful, almost comical table for the actual game. I think this juxtaposition does not work well, because the humourous elements (i.e. the narrative) are does with photorealistic elements, while the serious elements (the game) are presented comically.

It is also obvious that while there is a lack of tutorial, the graduated difficulty of the campaign settings will easily acclimitise the player to the learning curve of the game. Now for those who are into multiplayer, there is an option to duel it out on multiplayer maps. It’s a pass’n’play option only but it is at least a multiplayer option.


6/10: Lots of interesting things here, but overall I found myself uncommitted to the campaigns.

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