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What is Call of the Sea?

Call of the Sea is an otherworldly tale of mystery and love set in the 1930s South Pacific. Explore a lush island paradise, solve puzzles and unlock secrets in the hunt for your husband’s missing expedition.

Review

CALL OF THE SEA is an exploration based game that is perhaps appropriate to refer to as a “walking simulator” but that would be more of a pejorative than it deserves to be done so as. It’s similar to MYST from way back when in which the game is mostly just about visiting the very lovely locations and solving some very light puzzles. There’s no chance of dying and very little character interaction but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s also a game that if you figure out its primary selling point then you’ll figure out the game’s big plot twist so I’m not sure how to talk about it.

So, instead, I’m going to say that I recommend the game if you need something very relaxing to play and aren’t really interested in purchasing at any price higher than $7.99. It’s worth it to get for under ten dollars but I wouldn’t spend any more money on it. As stated, this is barely a game but it’s a fun way to waste a few hours exploring the pretty island with its cartoonish Monkey Island-esque graphics and Pacific Island ambiance. The mystery is a fun one to unravel, even though I figured it out in the opening scene. Now if you want to know more, stay and read on but consider yourself warned.

Okay, the game’s central premise is that you are Norah Everhart, 1930s New England high society woman who has traveled to a remote island in the South Pacific looking for her missing husband, Harry. There’s some questions from the beginning about why she’s going to this island alone on a rowboat, what she hopes to accomplish, and how she plans to get back once she’s found whatever it is she’s looking for. However, these are mild issues in the grand scheme of thing. Norah suffers from some strange illness covering her in odd patches on her body and she dreams of strange underwater cities.

Yeah, the big twist of the game is almost immediately spoiled by the fact I tagged, “Cthulhu Mythos” when discussing this game. It’s a Pacific island, there’s a bunch of fish-shaped iconography across the place, Norah is from Newberryport, and the expedition was almost funded by a bunch of people called the “Starry Wisdom” society. If you can’t figure out what’s going on by the end of the second chapter, you’ve probably never read The Shadow over Innsmouth. Except, I don’t think that twist is actually a bad thing to have spoiled because everything becomes about the anticipation instead.

The funny thing is, this isn’t a horror game. The island is bright and cheerful, the atmosphere is wistful, and the (let’s call them what they are) Deep Ones are at least threatening. Hell, I’d argue the Innsmouth Legacy has more a terrifying interpretation of the creatures and they’re protagonists of the series. This is definitely more an urban fantasy interpretation of Lovecraft’s Mythos but those expecting some horrible twist or dread will be disappointed.

The puzzles are generally well-designed but not always intuitive. One puzzle might just consist of writing down all the symbols on tiki statues spread throughout a camp site, another might be assembling a puzzle out of torn paper pieces, and a third might be trying to assign symbols to musical notes on a piano. Sometimes there are issues that you wouldn’t expect like after getting all of the electrical grid of an old ship back online, you still have to flip switches to turn on the electrical wires without any clue that’s necessary.

This is definitely a game with a lot of trial and error mixed with touching everything (or using a guide). The art style is really nice with the illustrations being extremely well done and the non-realistic graphics will probably age far better than a more advanced Triple A game. The island is a beautiful place to wander and sometimes I just stopped to look around at the giant diamond shaped stone monuments or beautiful lagoons. There’s only one main character but she does a good job of being likeable as she just talks to herself the entire time.

In conclusion, Call of the Sea is an enjoyable game where you wander around a beautiful island and explore a bunch of ruins with a minimum amount of danger as well as some cyclopean ruins. I don’t regret my purchase but I wonder if they could have gone in a more horror-driven direction. The best chapter is Chapter 3, which is a dark and stormy level with an abandoned steamer and ancient creepy temple.

Available here (Steam)

Xbox Store

Playstation Store

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