The Pirate Queen on Quest 3: A worthwile adventure?


The Pirate Queen on Quest 3: A worthwile adventure?

Image: Singer Studios

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Step into the boots of a female pirate who ruled the South China Sea 200 years ago.

Cheng Shih is one of the most feared pirates in history. At the height of her power, she commanded a fleet of over 400 ships and some 70,000 men. She also enforced a law that demanded equality between men and women. The Pirate Queen is a VR experience that pays tribute to this extraordinary woman.

The story begins after the mysterious death of her husband, when another pirate leader attempts to seize power over the fleet. As Shih, you must thwart these plans and take her husband’s place.

Focus on storytelling and exploration

The narratively dense story takes place over the course of one night and consists of 13 chapters of varying length that take about two hours to complete.

The game alternates between narrative passages, puzzles, and skill challenges to keep things interesting. You traverse the areas, which take place entirely on the high seas, by walking, climbing and rowing. As you do so, you can hear Shih’s thoughts and participate in her inner world. The pirate is voiced by American actress Lucy Liu.

The Pirate Queen is the first game and the first VR production from Singer Studios, and that shows here and there in the lack of polish in the game and puzzle design, as well as in the occasional object interaction. The locations are deserted, and when you meet other characters, you only see their silhouettes behind glass. Towards the end, things get a bit more tense, but there are no sword duels or anything like that. The Pirate Queen is first and foremost a (linear) exploration game.

I really missed a crouch button. Without it, it was difficult to play while sitting down, as some objects are difficult to reach. At least you can adjust the height in the menu, but who wants to go to the menu every time?

Atmospheric set pieces

As a VR game, The Pirate Queen did not fully convince me. But I truly enjoyed the narrative elements and the lovingly designed environments that brought me into contact with Chinese culture, a world largely unknown to most Westerners. Singer Studios worked with historians to ensure historical authenticity. However, the studio took artistic freedom with the story.

An atmospherically lit room with a niche for a Chinese deity.

This artwork captures the mood of the interiors well. | Image: Singer Studios

Visually, The Pirate Queen is a mixed bag: the interiors in Quest 3 look rather detailed and atmospheric, while the exteriors are lacking in detail. When rowing on the sea, you notice how flat and colorless it is. I did not try the graphically more elaborate PC VR version.

If you want to play a narratively dense VR experience and are interested in (Chinese) history, The Pirate Queen is a good choice. But if you are looking for a challenging VR game with lots of action, look elsewhere.

You can purchase The Pirate Queen for $17 in the Quest Store and on Steam.

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