I have to admit to a love affair with the TV show Deadliest Catch. (At my house, we call it "Dangerous Fish.") The show follows the exploits of actual Alaskan crab fishermen as they work one of the world's most dangerous professions: hauling crab from the bottom of the dark and stormy seas off the Alaskan coast. As far as reality televisions shows go, it's first-rate, and I find it to be a soothing reminder that however hard my job may be, it's not crab fishing.
This summer I had the pleasure of meeting Captain Sig Hansen, one of the stars of the TV show, and getting some hands-on time with a preview build of the game. Now that the game has been released and I've spent some time with it, I can report that it's probably not for everyone, but does offer some good solid fun, albeit with a bit of frustration and disappointment.
Sea of Chaos is actually the second Deadliest Catch game. The first, Alaskan Storm, was a bit more in-depth, filled with videos of talking Captain Sig and put you firmly in the captain's chair, tasked with sorting out the high-level strategic aspects of successfully fishing for crab. It was a fun game, but very dense and, as Captain Sig said, probably only fun for people who actually fish for crab.
With Sea of Chaos, Discovery Channel and developer Crave Games set out to make crab fishing a bit more engaging and accessible. They definitely succeeded, but whether or not the result is any fun will depend on what kind of games you enjoy playing, and if a little bit of minigame, mixed with a little bit of strategy, mixed with a lot of staring at loading screens is your idea of fun.
Most of the action in Sea of Chaos takes place in the campaigns, which set you up as a crab boat captain trying to make a certain amount of money, or competing with other captains. One campaign actually walks you through a re-creation of an entire season of the TV show, which is fun.
You can pick and customize your boat, hire and fire your own crew from a roster of people appearing on the show and then set sail for (hopefully) crab-infested waters. Crew members have different skill levels in the different aspects of crab fishing and can level up over time.
Once you hit the crab ground, it's time for minigame madness. There's a pot-setting minigame, a pot retrieving minigame, a crab-sorting mini-game, a boat repair minigame, a "man overboard" minigame and a crab offloading minigame. Each minigame uses a different crew member skill set, and each crew member is skilled in different areas, so you can mix and match crew members to minigames to get the most out of your crew. successes earns bonus cash and there is a fair amount of skill involved to get it right.