Tragedy of Prince Rupert feels like it was ripped from the pages of an old adventure novel, full of strange contraptions, fantastical whimsy and hidden secrets. While this atmosphere is charming and is combined with a fantastically realized bullet hell arena shooter, some things might have been a bit too well hidden.
Title: Tragedy of Prince Rupert
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by indieboost
Interface: Keyboard and Mouse
Available on Steam
Tragedy of Prince Rupert is a fast-paced 2D action arena shooter with a historical hot air balloon (Montgolfiere), which can dive 20,000 leagues under the sea and soar into space.
Tragedy of Prince Rupert first caught my attention because of how different it looked. The sepia tones and detailed, almost hand drawn, environments are fantastic, all inspired by a 1958 Czechoslovak adventure film (Karel Zeman’s The Fabulous World of Jules Verne). The game’s style hits super close to home for me: I grew up on the adventure stories of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Daniel Defoe (a passdown from my father who also grew up on these books) and have always loved the fantastical, almost surreal sense of adventure they embodied. The images from Tragedy of Prince Rupert immediately reminded me of those old wood etched illustrations.
Initially, Tragedy of Prince Rupert come across as an simple bullet-hell shooter with this incredibly cool vintage aesthetic: You pilot a Montgolfiere hot air balloon which happens to be able to shoot off an incredible amount of firepower, fly high into the heavens, and also delve into the depth of the oceans to avoid a host of enemies, from three mast sailing ships training their canons on you, to swooping flying machines and dirigibles, all intent on blowing holes in your balloon and seeing you plummet to your death.
This all handles incredibly well, even if it gets chaotic very quickly, but that’s not what makes Tragedy of Prince Rupert a hidden gem. No, it’s all the things that are hidden high in the sky and deep under water that elevate this game.
As you play the game, no doubt dying fairly often and all to quickly, you notice things. Strange things. For me, it was a huge fish just under the water’s surface which I saw when I dived underwater to seek shelter from the bullet storm that was happening in the air. I was quickly swallowed by the fish and suddenly found myself piloting a biological submarine with which I could safely explore the aquatic environment.
I wont spoil things, because the surprise of what you can find is half the fun, but suffice to say there are numerous secret collectible to be found that play into the game’s narrative, a full crew to unlock for your Montgolfiere and perhaps even a princess to save.
Tragedy of Prince Rupert hides a lot of its most interesting features, and doesn’t make an effort to actually push you in their direction. On one hand, I love this; the discovery of these gameplay elements and narrative beats feels exciting and wondrous because you’re finding them almost by chance. However, I cannot help but feel a lot of people might never find them, play this game for a short period and then never touch it again because they never saw what weird possibilities hide in the heights and depths of the Tragedy of Prince Rupert.