Review: Burly Men at Sea

The Nintendo Switch is fast become home of indie titles I kept meaning to pick up elsewhere and never did. There is something to be said about its convenience, both as a portable console and not having to worry about specs as I do with my ageing laptop.

Burly Men at Sea is the latest title like this, although it was initially released as a mobile game so I have less of an excuse, but it is still one I never got round to actually buying. Then it came to the Switch and I jumped at the chance. The game’s visual style drew me in years ago, and now I have finally played it!

Burly Men at Sea stands out because it looks like a stylistic children’s book rather than a game, with minimalist designs and an engaging colour palette. It’s certainly a game that stands out, but beneath the surface (excuse the pun) is an amusing and engaging narrative.

Burly Men at Sea screenshot

At the start of the game you come across a blank sea chart and that starts and the Brothers Beard set off on an adventure that takes them across, and under, the sea. The story itself is short and you’d easily be able to complete it in about 30-45 minutes depending on how much you poke at everything and savour the experience. However, it’s so charming that you’re likely to pick it up again in the future and play it once more.

The first time I played it through I wanted to make sure I didn’t complete it in one sitting (for my own benefit really) but when I started it back up again I’d evidently saved just a few minutes before the end.

Burly Men at Sea is full of charm and character, and characters that are full of charm. It’s difficult to describe unless you play it, but the language used adds a flourish that gives the game it’s own style. For a game that is essentially an interactive story, it is a big bonus.

Burly Men at Sea screenshot

You view the game as if looking through a telescope and to navigate you must pull at the edge of the viewport. You’re able to use the touchscreen or standard controls and each has its own advantages. They’re both easy to use, but the touchscreen feels more ‘natural’ to me. It’s a clever way to add a bit more interactivity beyond a simple movement mechanic and adds a bit more to the mystery of explore what is just beyond your view.

Other than this, the only real interaction you have with the world is dialogue and clicking on background items that offer charming brief animations (birds flapping, books falling over and that kind of thing).

Ultimately you’ve got to want to play this type of game otherwise you’re not going to enjoy it. Burly Men at Sea is short and it is more of an interactive story than a traditional game. If you’re on deck with it, then you’ll love it but if you want something that you can dig your teeth into more than it is probably not worth bothering. The art, writing and overall charm though make Burly Men at Sea stand out in an increasingly crowded eShop.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Burly Men at Sea may not be for everybody, but it is a unique and enjoyable title. If you're after a game with some great writing, or just something that's a joy to look at, I thoroughly recommend it.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Gorgeous art style
Charming and full of character
Good writing


Little interactivity

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