One can make the case for this game being hugely absorbing or too hard for its own good. Either way, Nantucket is a slow-paced and frequently unforgiving game. Neither of these are "bad" qualities, but as a blend of Oregon Trail, Moby Dick, and board games, the formula here is at least somewhat familiar: You'll start off in a tiny rotten boat with a salty crew. You have to play your cards right and carry out a lot of missions before you can afford to cruise the seven seas in style with some sense that you'll survive. Sometimes the challenge is fun and rewarding, like when you've properly planned for the voyage ahead and are able to upgrade your ship. Other times, it's frustrating because the game doesn't seem to play by its own rules: On some expeditions with an understocked amount of grog, the crew decided they didn't need to drink anyway and stayed sober permanently -- until later when there was a mutiny due to a lack of grog.
Random events are the lifeblood of any simulator-strategy game like this, and it's disappointing that the spectrum here ranges from boring and repetitive (you're worried if you start imitating a crew member's personality, everyone will look down on you) to more eyebrow-raising (when you interrupt your crew having sex, you can join them and then use these relationships to earn money and fund your journeys). In a game all about high adventure, it's the static imagery and how tiny (and slow-moving) your boat is that's really at odds with that idea. Everything takes place on a map unfurled on a wooden table. That, and another screen representing combat, is all you'll see. The harshest criticism you can levy against this lack of distraction is that at times it feels like you're managing a spreadsheet. The highest praise you can say about it is that it's all about the strategy. There are some strange tonal notes here (as mentioned, plus things like your suddenly becoming xenophobic just because someone on your crew is racist), but if you keep an open mind, there's a rewarding rhythm that sets in to the flow of going to all corners of the map, leveling up your ship and crew by the time logged in the deep blue. Only it's a little too bad that just as if you were to do this journey for real, there's a fair amount of monotony to work through.