The game is completely text based, and is played by selecting whatever you feel is the appropriate option or response for a given situation. You may find yourself dealing with a tense battle at sea where your choices could determine whether your crew lives or dies, or deciding how to treat captives you've brought on board. Depending on the type of character you want to play, the right answer to any situation is whatever you want it to be. Certain choices are received better or worse by other characters within the narrative, but if you want to be a cold, calculating officer who only cares about yourself... be one! If you want to be the hero who saves everyone... be one! Some paths are easier than others, and danger isn't always confined to the battlefield.
Analysis: Like its spiritual predecessor, Choice of the Dragon, Broadsides offers a lot of freedom in its well written narrative. You can be male or female, hero or scoundrel, Coke or Pepsi... it all comes down to you and how your actions affect the scenarios that unfold before you. The story here is a bit drier than the previous Choice of Games title, with more thought given to how people are going to react to your choices and think of you than where to fire. Diplomacy is important, and can mean the difference between a long and successful career, or one cut bloodily short. Of course, this isn't to say you should kiss everyone's boots or try to keep everyone happy; you'll get the most rewarding experience out of Broadsides if you approach situations by thinking the way your character would honestly react, rather than by simply picking the choice you think will get you the best boost within the game. In this, the game offers a nice chunk of replay value, so you can start over again with a different set of tactics to see how your attitude changes certain scenarios.
Broadsides is also exceptionally more complex in terms of statistics. Apparently, life is simpler when you're a dragon; all you have to worry about is picking bits of armor out of your teeth. Broadsides adds a multitude of new statistics to your character that need to be kept track of to keep your advantage, and as such puzzling out the best possible choice for a situation is harder than before. Arguably, this can be a point in its favour, since it forces you to roleplay more and really think about what your character would do. It winds up offering a deeper experience because of it, but also may scare off players who preferred the jump-in-and-go approach of Choice of the Dragon.
Surprisingly deep and well written, Choice of Broadsides is an ambitious adventure with a lot of twists and turns that should provide a lot of meat for fans of text RPGs to sink their teeth into. The lack of fangs and scales this time around shouldn't be a deterrent, since Broadsides offers a wealth of interesting characters to meet and tricky situations to resolve... and it's all up to you how you do it.