Call of the Sea is the debut title by the Spanish indie studio Out of the Blue and is best described as a first-person adventure puzzle game. According to the developers, they were inspired by the following game Fire watch, mist and Sub Nautica, all shared the theme of solving exploration and puzzles.
I’ve been a fan of this genre since the 90’s, the direction the developers chose, whether the puzzles would be a bit original and rewarding, and whether it all makes sense in the story. I wanted to know how.
An interesting story about love and the quest for cure
You play the game as Nora Everhart, whose family suffered from a mysterious illness that killed her grandfather and mother and is still attacking her. The first symptoms of tiredness and dark spots begin to cover her hands. Needless to say, this has had a huge impact on her life, as if she were a kind of freak of nature, not forgetting the uncertainty of how long she still has to live. I am always forced to wear gloves so that people do not look at her.
One day, her husband, Harry, wasn’t strong enough to help some doctors find what was killing Nora, and went on an expedition to do the impossible. Day and night pass, but Harry is worried about his wife and suffers and never returns. One day, Nora receives a mysterious package with a photo of her husband and a note with instructions for an unnamed island, and when she arrives, jogs her memory. In one of her previous dreams. As she heads to the island, she finds clues about her father’s whereabouts. What happened to him, and did he find the cure he was desperately looking for?
At first glance, Call of the Sea is a game created with attention to gorgeous details. Instead of spending the entire journey on an island with the same assets, you’ll find yourself in a constantly changing environment that feels unique as the story progresses.
The pictures speak a thousand words and do not attempt to explain the meticulous attention and detail of the island’s design, either above or below the surface. Instead, take a look at the screenshot above and imagine this experience throughout. Not all areas feel like they belong to postcards, but the game has some stunning scenes and moments that I’ll never ruin.
We recommend playing the game with proper sound setup or headphones, as the orchestrated soundtrack and ambient sound provide a great immersive experience. The voice-over dialog is very well done and provides Nora’s inner thoughts and hints throughout the game. One thing that diminished my experience is one of my pet’s pees in adventure games, the invisible wall. I wish the developers had found a more creative way to implement restrictions on movement to areas outside the scope. Even if it’s an adventure game wink from the 90’s, it feels like a lazy solution from a design standpoint.
Immersive gameplay surrounding mysterious puzzles
When you start the game in a small cabin, explore the room and collect the first clues, it’s still not very obvious, but as soon as you start your journey on the island, you’ll find the character moving very slowly. This is a game mechanic explained by fatigue from Nora’s illness, and the first few minutes of the game feel very restrictive and even annoying. To be honest, I was worried that this would be a problem for the whole adventure, but a few minutes later, the mysterious power of the island gives Nora the power to run. This is the same as moving at the speed I think it is normal. This basically meant that I had to hold down the run button all the time, which at first felt like a terrible experience.
However, this unusual mechanic was fortunate to become a second nature after a while, and although unconventional, it transferred a sort of struggle for the protagonist. Early in the game, you are already familiar with the first puzzle, but solving it is not too difficult. But later puzzles require a detailed search of the environment, clues to mysteriously placed objects, logical thinking, and sometimes luck to solve them. Nora also keeps all the important information in her diary so that she doesn’t have to take notes or rely on her memory. Most puzzles are feasible, but one requires more effort than the other, but there are some challenges, and I’ll grow some more gray-haired strands and guide them to solve them. I’m sure I had to rely on it. Nevertheless, the cleverly designed puzzles often reminded me of the game mentioned above, which was inspired by the developers. This can be considered a great compliment.
Like most adventure puzzle games, you can’t die. Despite the fact that you are on a mysterious island, I personally expect death to lie in all bushes and trees, but the island poses no danger to Nora. It is certain that he will occasionally pass through dark and uneasy places to remind him that he has set foot on an island that may have killed Nora’s husband. However, the game doesn’t really become a horror or horrifying experience. The moment of pause is balanced and most often exists to further immerse the player in discovering the island and developing the story.