There has never been a shortage of nautical-themed simulation or adventure games. There seems to be something about the high seas that draws in young and old alike, with stories of Vikings, explorers and pirates handed down from generation to generation. What’s wonderful about Enemy Waters: Submarine and Warship Battles is that it strips all these stories down into a simple, action-packed and highly addictive experience.

Out now for Android, Enemy Waters by TeaPOT Games puts players in the shoes of the lead Admiral for an egotistical but (generally) harmless enough King as he seeks to conquer his enemy, Pirate Little John. As you try to conquer the seas, you’ll be expected to fulfil all the roles and duties of a powerful olden-day navy. This includes protecting civilian (including merchant) ships, establishing & retaining control over ports and other maritime assets, sinking enemy ships, and hunting for treasure aboard wrecked naval ships.

Each specific challenge is quite short, meaning that even if you only have a few minutes to spare, you can dive into Enemy Waters. One of the strengths of the game for those new to the genre is that the difficulty increases quite slowly so you can make some serious headway before you face defeat. Another strength is that instead of a length up-front tutorial, Enemy Waters introduces and guides you through new features on an as needed basis so there’s plenty of time before the training wheels come off fully and you’re left entirely to your own devices.

Enemy Waters Drift

From the outside, this might sound like something that would turn-off more experienced ship simulators, but the developers here have managed to implement a long-run tutorial that avoids coming across as patronising. Features don’t appear before their purpose is explained so there’s no opportunity to figure things out on your own ahead of being shown by the game.

The gameplay in Enemy Waters is strong, but what really sets the game apart from its competition is its ships. With 20 different ships in total (10 warships and 10 submarines), there’s just enough variety to make the game interesting for ship nerds while allowing players to get to know the ships well enough to strategically put together the best fleets for the tasks at hand. Among the options are some really interesting ship designs including the Espora, an Argentinian warship grounded in classic German design, and the nuclear-powered Akula submarine used by the USSR/Russia and India.

Enemy Waters Submarine

Enemy Waters also features solid graphics, particularly under water. It’s a fun game to look at, especially for the challenges that have you manoeuvring submarines around underwater mines and other obstacles while fish-watching. The game performance is also solid, though if you’re using an older device you might experience a little graphics lag here and there with the torpedoes.

Where the game is more likely to attract criticism is in its controls. The controls are set-up in a way that really makes sense for a mobile game, however if you’re coming at this from a hardcore ship simulation perspective, they might lack the degree of realism you’ve come to expect.  While you have a choice of speeds and use the camera to aim (rather than auto-aim), there’s no currents to content with or knots to figure out. If you can get past that though, you’re bound to have some serious fun.

Enemy Waters Map

Choose your own path through the game by completing section challenges in the order you choose.

One small thing, but a frustrating one for those it affects, is that on some devices (ex. Sony Xperia XA series) after taking a screen shot the touch menu at the bottom of the screen blocks the speed controls on the right-hand side. In order to fix the problem, you need to leave the game and jump back in or lock/unlock the screen. It isn’t the kind of issue that leads to mission failure, but it is confusing and aggravating.

Small control flaws aside, Enemy Waters is definitely a game with downloading if you have any interest in ships or naval culture. Even if you don’t there’s still solid fun to be had. It looks good, it plays well and it’s a very welcome addition to the adventure-based ship-simulation landscape. Enemy Waters: Submarine and Warship Battles is free-to-play and available now in the Google Play store.