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Curse of the Sea Rats (Switch) Review

by Joe DeVader - April 7, 2023, 7:33 pm EDT
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Don't let the witch and her pirate crew get you RATtled. Get it?

There is no shortage of 2D metroidvanias in the current indie space, a sentence I am positive I have typed at least three times before this. For this reason, if you’re going to add on to the pile, you need to make sure you have some aspect of your game that makes it stand out from the rest, and while we’ve seen a large uptick in metroidvanias with hand-drawn art in recent years, it still tends to be enough to grab my attention at the very least. Enter Curse of the Sea Rats, a game that first came into my view during one of last year’s Steam Festivals. The demo showed a lot of promise: four playable characters, hand-drawn art reminiscent of a 2D animated film, a fun pirate aesthetic, etc. However, the game sadly does not quite live up to the promise it shows, and while it’s not a failure, it unfortunately contains problems that hold it back from achieving its true potential.

Curse of the Sea Rats begins on a British ship carrying several prisoners, including our four main characters. When the ship crashes somewhere on the Irish coast, the pirate witch Flora Burn takes the opportunity to transform everybody on board into a rat. She then escapes with her crew, kidnapping the Admiral’s son on her way out. Desperate to get his son back and break Flora’s curse, the Admiral offers a deal to these prisoners: he’ll set them free and strike down charges they had against them if they defeat the witch and return his son safely. The four agree and set off in search of the witch, learning of her power source: a medallion with a connection to ancient magic. However, this medallion is incomplete, with our four-prisoner team having the missing piece in hand. In order to reach Flora Burn, the quartet must explore the island in their new rat forms, engaging with Flora’s crew on the way to break the curse and take her medallion away.

You can play as one of four characters, each with their own style of combat. David Douglas is an American revolutionary soldier armed with a cutlass, Buffalo Calf is a Cheyenne huntress making use of daggers for both close and ranged fighting, Bussa is a fugitive slave from Barbados who fights using his massive fists, and Akane Yamakawa is a Japanese warrior wielding a naginata. Where this cast differentiates itself is in their overall moveset, with their regular combos, parrying abilities, air attacks, and magic being unique to each character. Unfortunately, this is really the only thing different between them, as none of them have any form of traversal abilities to themselves. Outside of combat, every character plays the same, goes the same speed, jumps the same height, and shares the same overall upgrades. Each character does have their own skill tree, but completely filling just one character’s skill tree is so easy and fast, and often makes them so powerful that there is little incentive to ever switch to another one. The entire game can be played in local co-op with up to four players, but this is likely the only way you’ll ever see any character other than the one you immediately gravitate to and take through the whole game.

Combat overall feels fine in Sea Rats; hits feel like they have a good impact, and blocking an enemy’s attack is usually pretty satisfying. I personally gravitated towards Akane, as the longer reach of her naginata fit best with my personal playstyle, as did her water-based magic. Bosses are well animated and unique enough from each other, with some of them even referencing other games (including one that is literally just Dracula from Castlevania but a rat). The voice acting for most characters is a bit questionable overall, but I personally found the cheesiness of the line reads to add to the charm in the end. Sadly what took away from the charm was the multitude of bugs I experienced over the course of my playthrough. If I switched characters right before a cutscene, there would sometimes be a problem where the wrong voice would read the lines. For example at one point I talked to a group of drunk pirates as Akane, but as I had just recently switched over from Douglas, it was his voice that read the line in question. Also, if you’re wondering whether or not the four characters have their own dialogue in situations like that, unfortunately they do not, every character appears to be reading from the same script for most of the game.

Another bug I experienced was the game forgetting I had acquired an inventory upgrade that was supposed to let me buy a higher number of health potions, therefore keeping me at the base number for a large portion of the game. This eventually fixed itself, but it was annoying for the time it occurred. Many of the problems I ran into have been or will soon be patched according to the developers, but unfortunately it was a tad too late to not paint my experience at least a little bit. Overall, Curse of the Sea Rats is a game I think has a lot of potential, but the samey characters and bugs hold it back from being what it seems like it really could be. If you’re really itching for a new metroidvania experience, or just really like rats for some reason, you could definitely do a lot worse than this one, but I sadly cannot say I would recommend you dash to the eshop as fast as you can for it.


  • Enjoyable art and soundtrack
  • Excellent character design
  • Overall satisfying combat
  • A multitude of bugs
  • No real incentive to use all four characters
  • Skill trees are way too fast and easy to complete

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Game Profile

Genre Adventure

Worldwide Releases

na: Curse of the Sea Rats
Release Apr 06, 2023
RatingEveryone 10+
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