There’s a motivational tactic that prescribes you take massively ambitious items on your to-do list and break them down into smaller mini-tasks to make them more achievable. While that makes sense for enterprises like losing weight or starting your own jingle-writing business, Deadliest Catch: Sea Of Chaos shows it makes a lousy framework for a video game.
Based on the Discovery Channel documentary series of the same name about real-life crab fishermen doing their lucrative but extremely dangerous jobs aboard vessels in the Bering Sea, this game breaks that major task down into a series of smaller ones in a simulation style. You play as the captain, which means you’re responsible for hiring a crew, keeping them happy and rested (obediently, they only sleep when ordered to do so), and bringing king and opilio crab back to shore for a healthy profit. Also, it’s agonizingly dull: Every step along the way is boiled down to a simplistic Flash-style game, almost arbitrarily. The worst offender of these is when it comes time to offload your crab. Rather than just place them into a giant bucket, you have to play crab-basketball while contending with a swinging crane all too eager to block your jump shot. That said, some amusement can be wrung from these activities as the sound clip of someone angrily moaning, “No!” is repeated with wild abandon every time you slip up. You’ll hear this a lot more if your guys don’t rest, as a weary worker is a more accident-prone one.
The threadbare patchwork connecting all these games comes via navigating the map, deciding when to head into town to load up on fuel, repair your boat’s engine, winch, and goal-tending crane and where in the sea to look for crabs. Time is a precious commodity, as everything you do eats away hours you need to best all the other fishermen vying for the same crab and dollars as your crew. Occasionally, you’ll be able to trade intel with the other captains, provided you’re willing to risk that they might be bending the truth to send you off the crabby scent, but more often than not they tell the truth. Don’t look for Mass Effect-esque mind games here. There are some interesting ideas at play, but Sea Of Chaos is simply too literal and barebones an interpretation of the show to give it much in the way of sea legs.