Sometimes the core concept of a game is solid and appealing, like attempting to work together in an ever-increasingly chaotic situation to survive and thrive. The concept in theory works, the likes of Overcooked, Moving Out, and Unreliable Delivery Service have tried and succeeded. The hilarity of working together and things going wrong make these awesome games to play together. However, they can also fall into the trap of being too hard or broken to be fun enough to stand out in a crowded genre. Trash Sailors sadly falls into this latter category. While there’s fun to be had in Trash Sailors, it’s simply too hard and too broken to recommend. Especially when there are much better co-op experiences to be had on the Nintendo Switch.

The story of Trash Sailors is fairly simple: the world has been swept away by a giant trash tsunami, which has left trash floating around just waiting to get picked up and used. You’re left to drift the trash sea in a makeshift ship. Trash is now your main resource and, ultimately, the key to your survival. You can recycle it into fuel, spare parts, and even weapons for the journey ahead. The weapons allow you to survive swamp crocodiles, toxic sharks, arctic pirates, and other hazards that will sink your boat.

Trash Sailors sets itself apart right away by its unique art style. You would think that a game where you look at a bunch of trash all the time wouldn’t be pretty. However, the little details in Trash Sailors, like the patch marks on the boat, add a fun charm. There’s even the design of the different stages and how they differentiate themselves from previous ones to make quite an impression. The unique artwork coupled with the chaotic look the developers put into the game create a certain charm right from the start.

There’s also the gameplay itself, which is a bit of a mixed bag. The co-op nature makes for a very fun experience when multiple people are working together to make the boat. It was a lot of fun to yell at each other as things went horribly wrong or when we were about to crash into a building. Breaking tasks up among friends and family makes the experience far more manageable and enjoyable. Someone steering the ship, someone fixing the ship, someone inevitably falling off said ship (I don’t know why you’d assume that was me. It wasn’t me…every time). There’s even a role for someone to fight off the bad guys coming to kill you. Unfortunately, this is where the gameplay falls apart.

Combat in Trash Sailors is, quite frankly, terrible. It just doesn’t work at all and is easily the worst part of the game. It’s extremely difficult to line up your shots and impossible to know how much damage you did. This is a pretty major problem for Trash Sailors, as combat is as much a part of the game as resource collecting or ship repairs. It’s crazy to describe this issue without saying that combat as a whole needs to be completely reworked. It isn’t fun, isn’t satisfying, and is just plain broken.  

It should be said that Trash Sailors is a game that NEEDS to be played in co-op to find any enjoyment, for two reasons. Firstly, you have so much more fun yelling at each other to get tasks done, desperately trying to survive. Secondly,  there are so many things that need to be done at every moment that it is actually impossible to play alone. This last point was genuinely the most disappointing and angering area for me. Yes, any titles in this genre (Overcooked, Moving Out, etc.) are designed to be best when played with others. Yet Trash Sailors is genuinely unplayable alone. There are too many things happening at every moment for you to ever have any sort of control or fun. Your ship is getting attacked on all sides from all sorts of things, the ship is falling apart, you’re trying to avoid running into something, don’t die, etc. It’s too much for one person to handle and, worse, the game never tries to balance this issue. If you play alone or with four people, the game maintains the exact same amount of tasks, difficulty, and objectives. Plain and simple: Trash Sailors is unplayable in single player mode. 

Is Trash Sailors worth your time? Sadly, in its current state, no. Trash Sailors has its fun moments and extremely unique art style to help visually stand out. Plus, like every co-op game in this genre, it can be quite hilarious to play with friends as chaos ensues and everyone is yelling at each other to do tasks. Yet a key gameplay aspect of Trash Sailors is completely broken. The combat doesn’t work and isn’t fun, despite it being so integral to the gameplay. Add the fact that it’s unplayable in single player mode and you’ve got a very mixed experience that may not be worth your time. Until these issues get fixed and combat is completely overhauled, Trash Sailors may be more trash than treasure. Especially when much better co-op experiences exist on the Nintendo Switch.