Call of the Sea Reviews

  • C64 MatC64 Mat1,220,108
    12 Dec 2020 12 Dec 2020
    10 3 1
    A Macro Review™
    Series X tested.

    Call of the Sea is a first person adventure puzzle hybrid, in the style of Myst, Obduction, Schizm etc. It's played at a slow pace as you explore a diverse and beautiful island 74 miles off the coast of Tahiti in Polynesia.

    You explore this island as Norah Everhart, a 1930s American who has come here searching for her missing husband Harry, after taking delivery of a mysterious letter and an artifact leading to the place.

    Rather than being an open world which gradually unlocks more for you to explore, Call of the Sea is split into six individual chapters, so you're not able to really let go and explore everything you can see, which is a bit of a shame. The plus side is there's a chapter select on the main menu, so you can always go back if you miss any achievements or story beats.

    The island is beautiful - it's highly stylised instead of being super realistic, and some chapters of the game, especially numbers three and four, really stand out visually on the Series X. The puzzles found within each chapter invariably involve unlocking a way forward to the next one, but they're distinct from location to location, and each one can be deciphered logically - everything you need to complete them is tracked in your journal in-game. I beat the story in about six hours without using a guide, and I implore you to do the same as solving the puzzles after following the clues makes you feel like a bit of a genius - it's very satisfying.

    Unfortunately the game does have two massive downsides.

    Firstly the story. Without any spoilers at all, it's full of holes, lacks background or explanation, and leaves you feeling deeply unsatisfied by the end. I have a lot of things to say on that, but I can't here without spoiling it. It's childish at worst, and badly written. You just keep thinking: Okay, but why? Why is this happening? If this is the case, how did Norah even get to this point?

    Secondly, the protagonist. She never shuts up. Ever. Every single thing you discover, examine, pick up, there's spoken dialogue for it all. That's not bad per se, but the writing and delivery is completely unnatural. Norah talks out loud as if reading from a diary, about everything, past and present, and it's completely immersion breaking, as the only person she's speaking to is you: The player. It's especially annoying when she starts describing your location, and you haven't even looked up and seen what she's talking about, essentially spoiling the discovery you would make for yourself. It's the same with the puzzles. You find a clue or an object which you can manipulate, and Norah talks out loud about what it could mean or be connected to. You could mute the dialogue, but then of course you don't get any where it matters, such as in cutscenes or story beats.

    None of the achievements are missable, as you can replay every chapter and things you've discovered stay discovered, so there's nothing to worry about there - it's an easy 100%.

    Call of the Sea is a bit of a weird one for me. I went from being disappointed to elated to disappointed again, and although I'd recommend it to Game Pass subscribers just for the excellent middle chunk of gameplay during chapters three and four, Norah will do her best to piss you off whilst you're playing, and the writing and plot will leave you feeling unsatisfied. Really, it's so hard not to tear into it here.

    Overall I'm glad I played it, but having beaten all the puzzles and laid the story bare, I can't say I enjoyed anything but the middle part. If you want puzzles, play it. If you're looking for a good plot, don't bother.
    Showing only comment.
    FFX BrotherhoodI upvoted, because the majority of the review is sound and pretty well-written. Though I would like to offer an explanation for this paragraph.

    "Firstly the story. Without any spoilers at all, it's full of holes, lacks background or explanation, and leaves you feeling deeply unsatisfied by the end. I have a lot of things to say on that, but I can't here without spoiling it. It's childish at worst, and badly written. You just keep thinking: Okay, but why? Why is this happening? If this is the case, how did Norah even get to this point?"

    A lot of the story is subtle and there's a lot of implication. A lot of it also ties in with work done by a very famous author and a story that he wrote, and a lot, I mean A LOT of the story in this game ties into that original work. Without knowing exactly which parts you didn't understand or have answered, I can't really go into more. Though I'd always be willing to discuss it over a PM if you wanted? So yeah, I'd argue against that point heavily.

    I also found Norah rather endearing though, so who knows
    Posted by FFX Brotherhood on 20 Jan at 04:56
  • AlertCat WeaselAlertCat Weasel220,989
    11 Dec 2020 14 Dec 2020
    7 3 2
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    For the many fans of Point and Click, first-person adventures, Myst and Riven have been mainstay titles in their libraries. These games are fantastic at transporting you to a mysterious, strange world with complex problems to overcome, and beautiful worlds to explore. What these games don’t do with their serious take on the genre is allow for new gamers of this current generation to slip into the action with a bright and vivid colour palette and accessible early gaming puzzles to overcome. Call of the Sea by developers Out of the Blue, and published by Raw Fury takes all the best bits from these major titles, but presents them in a much more user friendly way, with a Zelda Wind waker/Sea of Thieves style world to explore.

    The game itself follows the story of the female protagonist Norah, she wants to find answers to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of her husband Harry, who is known to her as her “old pal”. He undertook a journey to find a remedy to Norah’s family disease and leaves no rock unturned while trying to find a solution. Unfortunately, his adventure has taken a turn for the worse, and now it is you saving him, and not the other way around.

    The premise of the game is simple. You must explore a mysterious, yet beautiful island that is located off the coast of Tahiti. This landmass that you must explore is unchartered, and the locals refuse to name it. However, you must overcome the obvious signs to stay away, and venture deep into its jungle environment. The game plays out in a first-person perspective where you must search for clues in the surrounding areas, and piece together the small bits of information so you can solve the many puzzles you encounter. The problems that must be overcome to progress the story are usually straightforward, with solutions and hints staring you in the face. But more complex moments are found when you attempt to unlock the secrets of the island. Many of these types of games require spatial awareness and a high degree of logical thinking. Therefore, they may be out of the reach of inexperienced gamers, however, the mixture of puzzling difficulties makes Call of the Sea much more accessible for a wider ranging audience.

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    While the simplicity of most of the puzzles, it may be dumbed down too much for veteran gamers. But I believe there is enough to keep everyone entertained. What was also fantastic about this game was the pace at which both the story progressed and how the plot unfolded. Clever use of photographs and letters between the pair helped to show both sides of the relationship. As the player, you become engrossed with how the plot unfolds, and the dynamic between the two. You forget that our female lead character is unwell, but small reminders sharply focus you on the dangers they both face. It's brilliantly written and takes you on a journey of discovery and on an emotional roller-coaster.

    Myst and Riven are renowned for being beautiful and atmospheric titles. Whenever I see a game in this genre, I hope that it retains some of these qualities. Fortunately, Call of the Sea does! Wandering around this stunning island you will discover a variety of biomes from; craggy rocks, lush forests, dense marshes and gorgeous beaches. The vivid colour palette gives the world a wondrous and alluring look, where every element is interesting and has a magical undertone. I loved every bit of this puzzling adventure, and the developers have created a glorious environment to lose yourself in.

    If you want an example of a game that has near perfect audio, then look no further! The music, sound effects, and acting work in perfect harmony to deliver the story and it envelops you in the world that you are exploring. The music creates upbeat and fun moments, which are immediately juxtaposed with sombre and minor tones that create a serious and ominous atmosphere. The sound effects breathe life into this slow-paced intellectual title, which makes you smile as each different location has its own unique sounds. Norah is voiced by Cissy Jones from Firewatch and Walking Dead Season One. Her tone and delivery of her lines brings warmth and emotion to help build a report with the female protagonist. The audio is a treat, and sounds spectacular through your TV, but for the best experience I recommend playing exclusively with headphones.

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    Because of the genre of game, most of the action is played out as fast or as slow as you like, meaning that the complexity of the control set up is not an issue. Fortunately, Out of the Blue has kept things simple, so learning the basics is easy to achieve. On the whole, the controls work very well, but I'd still say that this would play better with a mouse and keyboard. At points you will edge towards the item you want to interact with, still finding that you cannot select it. These are the limitations that console gamers accept, and though it was a little annoying, it didn't break the game, nor did it ruin the immersive nature of the title.

    Each chapter you take on is set in a small enclosed area of the island where you are free to revisit, and replay each at your leisure. There are many hidden items, documents, and photos dotted around the landscape, so collecting these will be a challenge the first time that you play. This requirement to find everything to obtain the 100% completion status will not be of interest for everyone, but as each chapter can be selected freely, I believe that most gamers will return to try to find all the secrets that eluded them first time around. At the time of writing this review, Call of the Sea is free to play as part of the Xbox Gamepass subscription, or is available to purchase at around £17. Both options provide great value for money, and I believe you'll need around 7 to 10 hours to complete this if you don't use a guide.

    If you are looking for an interesting title that allows you to play at your own pace, and lose yourself in the beautiful world it's set in, then look no further than this game. A wonderful story with great voice work awaits anybody that wishes to take this on. You won't be surprised when I recommend that you give this a go! Can you help Norah overcome the variety of puzzles that block her progress? Will you be able rescue her "old pal", and in the process save herself? Take on this adventure and see for yourself.
  • JayLive510JayLive51020,932
    18 Dec 2020
    6 9 3
    I like to start and finish my games. I am a tomb raider veteran. Starting with Tomb Raider 1 1996, all the way till Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. Without any help, I can solve 90 % of tomb raider puzzles. I am not super smart, but I am not an idiot either when it comes to puzzles and stuff.

    Impossible To Solve Puzzles

    I write all this to put things in context. This game…is really hard on me. Even on Day One, I got stuck at this puzzle, rotating face column thing. I spent an hour running around, looking at every corner. Eventually, I found a YouTube video and copied his solution.

    I even left a comment asking him how he got the clues, and he responded with the details. Even after this video and clarification, I still don’t know how he arrived at the solution. I pushed on with the game and reached this bizarre Shipwreck part of the island thing.

    Once again, there are many puzzles and solved them one after another. The game continues to be extremely light on details on what a puzzle is supposed to be or what it even means. There is no context or a theme to these puzzles. Each puzzle is unique, so what you did before has no help here.

    Eventually, I reached a pit, which had like some 8 or 9 buttons. I got the puzzle solved, and the goo is flowing, and all the pipes are on. Yet, that is not the full solution apparently. There is more to do, but there is no hint or anything. The lady in the game, won’t even wonder loudly, like what to do next. She talks so much exposition. After seeing me stuck in the same place for an hour, why not ‘wonder talk’ and give a hint. please.

    Final Note

    Anyway, the game is still gorgeous. I absolutely love her voice. It’s soothing, especially after dinner. It has a great story, but the puzzles keep pulling me back from appreciating the exotic island and its mysteries.

    I am just too dumb to play this game.

    [review taken from my medium publication post, "Call of the Sea — Day Two — Uninstalled From Xbox"]