Playing an Adventure Time game comes with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we're always up for another quest with Finn and Jake, but on the other, we're all too familiar with the "games based on movies/TV series" curse. It's a curse that's taken the life of many potentially good games and resulted in half-baked experiences. Pirates of the Enchiridion is chasing the wave that the last season of Adventure Time is causing, but as with many licensed games, the wave seems to have hit a bit too early.
Humour is all about timing, as the right punch line at the wrong moment attracts little laughter, which is why games have often had a hard time transferring from the silver screen to this medium of ours. South Park: The Stick of Truth did it surprisingly well, but Matt Stone and Trey Parker famously pushed themselves and the studio to the edge to achieve this, an achievement that Climax Studios can't match. They try but never succeed. The voice acting is subpar and weirdly slow, meaning that the jokes never really manage to sail all the way home.
Luckily there's another level to the series: the world. Wonderfully childish with its dark forest, an island made of cupcakes, and all its characteristic citizens, it's a part of the series that Pirates of the Enchiridion has a bit more luck with. There's life in the different areas of the map, as citizens walk around side-by-side with potential opponents, but it quickly becomes apparent that the life feels hollow. The more you explore, the more you realise how the people are standing still or walking in a very tight circle. Sometimes they say something - sometimes it's even a little funny - but repetitive dialogue quickly becomes apparent. Basically, the happiness, the humour, and the life of the series are things that Pirates of the Enchiridion never manages to grasp, and it ends up being a game with the Adventure Time skin but not its soul.
Gameplay-wise the developers have made some clever decisions, and thanks to its turn-based fighting system they've been able to pull together something fun that wouldn't have been possible with an alternative setup. With a basic attack, special attack, block, items, and the possibility to run away, here you have perfectly acceptable although extremely safe combat. It works because it borrows from what other games have already proven a success, but it never really tries to walk its own path.
When you're not fighting or exploring you'll sometimes have to interrogate different characters. which is basically a decision between playing good cop or bad cop. Should you be nice or mean? This question is often pretty easy to "figure out" as the game straight up tells you the best approach. What if you choose the wrong option? Don't worry; just pick the other one next time. It ends up being a pretty weird addition which doesn't really add anything that couldn't be achieved with an entertaining cutscene.
And that basically sums up the whole game; you need more entertainment. Not from a lack of trying, but by a lack of time to really see the potential of the ideas properly fulfilled. When you sail on your boat Finn and Jake will sing a song, for example, but we couldn't make out the words, and at one point Finn's voice disappeared in a cut-scene, and when he opened his mouth again it was Jake's voice coming out. Even though Climax Studios has made some good decisions, Pirates of the Enchiridion could still use a bit more time in the oven before it's ready to set sail.