ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise Review – Wobbly Sea Legs (PS4)
Virtual reality is an exciting proposition for fans of all kinds of media. Imagine seeing your favorite comic book, television, or movie characters brought to life and meeting them virtually face to face. ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise takes this approach with the popular manga franchise, with its release on PlayStation VR. Is this trip with the Straw Hat Pirates worth your time and hard-earned booty? Read on to find out in our ONE PIECE Grand Cruise review.
ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise features plenty of characters from the main cast of the manga. Protagonist Monkey D. Luffy makes an obvious appearance as the leader of a ragtag bunch of pirates aboard the vessel Thousand Sunny. There are two battles that can be played. The first is a battle against the navy, and the second is a fight against a Kraken or giant octopus that Luffy naturally wants to subdue into a pet. In any playthrough of both scenarios, the player is given only a few seconds to decide where to go by looking at a barrel and pressing the cross button. After a short conversation between characters in the chosen location, the player is called back out onto the deck for the real action to take place.
The graphics in Grand Cruise are one of its best assets. Familiar characters are instantly recognizable, and the cel-shaded style presentation lends itself well to VR scenes, which tend to have lower poly counts since two viewports must be rendered each frame. There’s some fanservice going on with the characters Nami and Robin as well, including the rather awkward option of staring at Nami’s chest while in her bedroom, prompting a reaction from her. There’s no direct interaction, however, as the entire experience plays out like a very short episode from the show involving the player as an audience member.
Not Much to It
VR is all about immersion. It puts the player smack dab in the middle of a scene, engrossing them in the center of all the action. Grand Cruise loses a lot of this immersion factor in its main events. While individual scenarios featuring marginally interactive conversations between the player and a couple of characters have a good level of immersion, the fight against the marines and the fight against the Kraken both sideline the player. It appears Grand Cruise’s origins as a multiplayer experience couldn’t be ripped out entirely. Instead, random red and blue silhouetted player characters with letters emblazoned across their chest appear at all other cannons that the current player is not occupying. There’s some sort of Red vs. Blue competition going on, but the player’s teammates are so accurate that there’s hardly a contest, and the player’s team will usually come out on top, for no reward other than notching a win. There’s not even online leaderboards!
Seeing everything that ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise has to offer will take most players well under an hour. This includes an introduction that cannot be skipped, which becomes very repetitive after running through it a few times in order to visit new locations. Navigation definitely could have been upgraded for this PlayStation VR release. There is a way to change who congratulates the player at the end of both scenarios, but that’s it in terms of affecting the overall adventure. Grand Cruise is, for the most part, an on-rails experience, without even the excitement of actually moving anywhere since the player is stationary for the duration.
ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise feels like a trip aboard a dinghy rather than a pirate ship. Even simply allowing for free travel around the boat as the show’s various characters react and move around would’ve given players something more interesting to do. But for die-hard One Piece fans, this is the closest you can get officially to the series’ many characters. As it stands right now, it’s hard to recommend ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise for anything more than a couple of dollars, and the entertainment value on offer doesn’t feel worth the current asking price of $9.99 USD.
ONE PIECE: Grand Cruise review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.