To get this out of the way in advance- I don't know how I spent 20+ hours on this game. I took a lot of time trying to justify this purchase and find something good in this game but I instead burned out fast. Also I left it running in the background while I did other stuff, but we'll get to that later.
Apparently, this game has gotten a little better than when it launched, as it's at least a stable, running program that does what it's meant to with some degree of consistency. This has had the unfortunate side effect of revealing it to be a poorly designed and thought out game on several other levels. A lot of things in this game, from the stock Unity pregame config menu to the bizarre use of the English language, lead me to believe that this is less a project someone worked on because they wanted to and more a product hastily thrown together for commercial release.
Character creation is arguably worse than nonexistant. There is a character creator at game start, but you just shuffle through random selections until you find the one you want. This is made a little easier by how limited the selections are, and also how little they matter, as you'll see little of your own character in this game. You have direct control of where the Captain goes and who they attack and that's about it. You need the captain nearby to open chests and dig holes but they're otherwise a regular crewmember. If your Captain dies, they're unceremoniously replaced by another nearby crewmember. You might not even realize it happened, and realistically, even if you do it won't notice unless you were particularly attached to your starting character.
The central idea is that you build a ship and sail around, destroying other ships, looting and generally doing pirate-y things. There are towns, islands and other ships scattered around the world, and as you sail further towards the edges of the world, enemy encounters increase in difficulty. The problem is that this "difficulty" is entirely contrived. Enemies get bigger ships and more crew members for the first few levels, but around rank 5 the ships start to get samey. Coincidentally, this is the rank at which cannon combat becomes a major factor, necessitating a 30-second wait before boarding can begin. The fact that you can't control your gunners' targets and that their AI occasionally locks up for the entire phase doesn't help. Eventually all that increases is the level of the enemies you fight, and by that I mean their HP- and, more troubling, their tendency to know a skill that causes them to violently detonate on death. Otherwise they're not much of a threat- a team of four with decent stats and good weapon experience can handle most ships in the game with no meaningful injuries.
In combat, you have almost no control. You can try to direct your captain and crew to attack specific enemies, but they seem to just do as they please, usually aggroing onto enemies that attack them. Since ranged weapons can hit through walls, this means they get juggled between targets a lot and spend much of a boarding operation pathfinding up and down ladders. Trying to watch what's actually happening is meaningless, because the already tiny characters will bunch onto the exact same location. It's actually easier to just watch the equally tiny readout at the bottom of the screen to see if any of your crew has died, and wait for the sound that indicates that all the enemies are dead.
There's also islands, and that's about all I can say about that. They have enemies on them and items you can activate. There is one that can be exploited to gain a ton of TP over and over, but for the most part the gains are miniscule. Having to kill thirty natives just to get to two coconuts and a chest with 15 gold in it is less than busy work. A few interesting things are set to happen on islands, but few actually do because of how badly optimized the game is. Far too many times I fought an islander, reduced them to near-death and saw the screen go dark with the prompt for them to surrender and join your crew, only for them to die because the prompt took ten seconds or more to appear. Islands also have treasure that you can dig up with a shovel that costs more than several cannons. Most of these treasures are garbage, but using treasure maps you can dig up some interesting equipment, and in attempting to use it you'll have to do battle with the game's interface.
So much of the game is reliant on your pirates, so the menu for equipping and leveling them shouldn't be so much of a mess. All pirates are sorted manually into groups that determine how they're used- the player can never select individual pirates other than the Captain, only entire groups at once. Your crew also never use their skills naturally, as their AI is entirely determined by what group you put them in. This almost entirely means that Ship Crew is the only useful group, as they prepare food and clean ♥♥♥♥ off the decks, which is 90% of sailing really- the Training, Gunnery and Boarder groups are only useful if you have a handful of specific items placed on your ship, and presumably Custom 1 (of one) just idles until they get hungry or given a kill order. The problem is that these groups can only be changed by going into the crew management menu, which is a hot mess to say the least. The biggest problem by far is that after selecting a crew member, the only way to go back to the list of crew is to close and reopen the menu. There's no way to sort your crew at all, and the game's internal sorting seems arbitrary- your captain will often end up somewhere in the middle of the top row, even if they're consistently the highest leveled among your crew. This same menu is also how your crew uses items, and between the battle interface being literally unreadable and the menu being difficult to navigate, healing mid-fight is an impossible task.
So much of this game seems to have been added in because it was a popular game mechanic and not because it was actually considered in terms of meshing with the game. You can "plunder" towns by killing NPCs, but shopkeepers have normal pirate drops, so you're really just locking yourself out. Ships take damage from cannon fire, but enemy crews will just board you well before you deal enough damage, and when they're all dead you can blow the ship up automatically anyway, so really the damage to ships only affects the player ship. There are many different island types and a lot of rare encounters you can find, but they all boil down to "bump weapons with enemy until death".
By far, what sealed this for me- not just "this game is bad" but "I need to tell people this game is bad" is that this is all there is. The objective of the game is to defeat the four legendary pirates. They are placed at the corners of a square world, surrounded by rank 9 encounters. Sailing in this game is tedious- the game loads an empty encounter, adds a percentage to the top corner of the screen and makes you wait while it counts up to 100. Nothing happens while you sail but eating and ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥. Events take place in between this, not during. Everything between point A and B is skipped. Enemy ships can interrupt your travel, but there's no pursuit or retreat, just an optional 60% chance to attempt to evade before you're stopped dead and forced to fight. You do this until you reach the corner and meet the game's final bosses- ships at about level 4, with the exception of a single pirate with 600+ HP. They die the same as any other enemy, and you're left in the far corner of the world with the knowledge that you have to do this all three more times.
Normally people say this kind of thing with hyperbole, but I entirely and earnestly mean it when I say that this game has caused deep levels of personal regret through my time with it. Looking for improvement made a passable game seem dry and tedious instead. If it were free, I would still not recommend it.