I like the detail given to the world, of 1700s colonial America/Caribbean in all its horror, even if romance was the primary focus. The simple lack of care many had for slavery at the time, but also the existence of indenture and otherwise forced service. The oddly-democratic culture of piracy, but also not shirking from the fact that none of them were angels and some quite reprehensible. The mentions of even the ignored colonial powers active at the time – the English and Spanish get the limelight, but the French and Dutch also get a mention (only missing the Portuguese and Scandinavians, really). The actions of the Anglo-Irish landlords in Rose’s backstory, and the potential for in the diplomat route to not take overt action against the British. The political and diplomatic side of that conflict in the 1700-1850s is also not very well covered.
Sure there are some things that break immersion – language isn’t entirely what I’d expect of the setting, terminology wouldn’t always pass by a nitpicker, the history’s evidently been played with a bit – but everything else made up for it. There is some room for a bit more nuance – for instance many native cultures in both Africa and the Caribbean would sell their enemies to the slavers in the first place – but it was a pretty good glimpse into the Caribbean as it was back then.
I only did the Eden path but I liked the fact that he wasn’t willing to give up his oath to his country over his love. Reminds me of a quote about William Pitt, that he was “married to his country”. Don’t really see much of that in fiction compared to the reverse. The other thing I liked about him was the hypocrisy (is that the word?) of him wanting to bring order with good intent to the Bahamas while not blinking an eye at slavery or oppressing the natives. That paternalistic attitude of colonial governance also isn’t seen that often. In addition I liked his honour yet still being a consummate politician, his confusion at a brash PC. Quite a rounded character.
That all said, I wasn’t too fond of the plot. Exploring the implications of the End of the Golden Age would have made a change from pirate/Caribbean mysticism/magic, which I personally find overused. Pacing could have been somewhat better – I did not expect to be stuck on an island for the majority of the game. The story had a really good start with the taking of the sloop, and then that turned out to be the majority of the pirating involved in the game. I know romance was the main goal, but I felt it needed mentioning. I did also think that the romance was a little fast in terms of time frame – over and done with in a week – but perhaps that’s my personal preference.
My other criticism was that the characters aside from the ROs were a bit flat. There was a glimpse of character, a description of their background, and that was largely it. They feel more like narrative vehicles than characters of their own. Rose, for instance, never mentions having issue with the PC shacking up with Eden until the end despite her grudge. Then again, this was somewhat expected considering that romance is the primary focus (something that appears to be done pretty well in my minimal experience of these things), but it would have been nice if the other characters weren’t just there to fill out the world.
I didn’t get that much of a connection with Darius: he feels like a mechanism for the player to decide between options at a later date. There are hints of something more – mainly through his interactions with Seth – but in general he’s so perpetually stoic and cynical and not much else. Mott seemed the most developed character of the non-ROs, despite being the PC’s enemy. The other one would have been Bellamy, even if he only showed up for one chapter.