Sea of Solitude – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure game
Developer: Jo-Mei games
Publisher: EA
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Sea of Solitude – Review

Site Score
9.5
Good: Superb storytelling, Beautiful graphics
Bad: Clumsy voice work
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Games have been used as a form of storytelling for years now. Where first the plot took a backseat to gameplay, only being there in a vague capacity (if there was a plot at all), these days there are a lot more titles that think about telling a story first, before working on the gameplay elements. Sea of Solitude is a perfect example of this, though it creates a perfect blend between the feelings it is trying to convey to its players and the interactive fun that makes a game a game and not just a walking simulation. With game giant EA backing up Jo-Mei Games in this endeavor though, perhaps it shouldn’t be very surprising that Sea of Solitude manages to balance the best of both worlds.

Story

Sea of Solitude tells the story of Kay, a young woman who may appear human at first glance but is definitely not upon closer inspection. Kay wanders around on her boat in a half-flooded city inspired by Berlin and encounters various monsters, some more dangerous than others, each in their own way relevant to Kay’s situation. It shouldn’t be hard to guess that a lot of the things we see in this game are a metaphor for more tangible, real-life situations. The various monsters Kay meets, the way the city changes from warm and inviting to dark and hostile in the blink of an eye, even Kay’s appearance itself all serve a bigger narrative. A narrative that tackles such a serious subject matter as mental health, bullying, insecurity, and guilt. The story very much reveals itself piece by piece, slowly uncovering more about Kay’s less than perfect life and the reason for her facing her demons now in a quite literal sense.

Graphics

The graphics of this game straddle the line between cartoonish and realism, and most of the time that works just fine. The animation is in 3D and while the scenery is extremely detailed and the monster designs are really cool, the game doesn’t try its hand at the photorealistic graphics some games prefer. This is especially noticeable with the water, which always looks just slightly anime-esque instead of acting like a real liquid would. This isn’t a bad thing in itself though, as it only emphasizes the fact that the world Kay finds herself in is not the real one by a long shot. And as mentioned above, the stark contrast between the scenes that are lighter and more colorful as opposed to the ones signifying severe emotional distress is stunning.

Sound

The sound design in Sea of Solitude is simply put ideal. As mentioned above, a significant element of the game is the way Kay’s world changes depending on the mood and subject being addressed. Where once there was sunshine and calm seas, Kay’s memories can literally summon a storm minutes later, and the music changes accordingly. The soundtrack is mesmerizing, with a lot of very beautiful music. There is also a significant amount of dialogue in the game, all of which has been voice acted. While this voice acting isn’t bad exactly, it also doesn’t sound quite as professional as one might expect. Mostly the voices will grow on you over time, especially Kay herself, but it can sometimes take the punch out of a moment that might otherwise be deeply emotional.

Gameplay

Sea of Solitude is an adventure game that focusses mostly on the plot. As Kay, you will explore the flooded city either by boat or, whenever the water has sunk low enough to permit it, on foot. There is a set storyline to follow, so there isn’t a lot of freedom on where to go next, though there are always some little sideways you can go down if you feel inclined to take in the sights. If you get confused about where to go, you can shoot off a flare. This bright light will launch itself in the direction of your next objective, making it easy to not get lost.

Besides this there are a few mechanics that come into play, changing from scene to scene. There are segments with a sneak mechanic, where you need to keep an eye on nearby monsters so as to not end up as their snack. Sometimes you will need to run away or evade enemies, or use your flare to light up the area and scare them away. Often you will find corruption, which you need to clear away before being able to continue. There are also some platforming elements in certain sections of the game.

There are a bunch of collectibles for you to vehemently search for while exploring the city. One of them is messages in a bottle, which will allow you to read up on Kay’s inner thoughts, giving you a bit more insight on what might really be going on.

Conclusion

Sea of Solitude is refreshing in every sense of the word. The graphics are stunning, the music is emotional and it tells a heartfelt story without falling prey to overdone clichés or an overly depressing tone. But unlike some indie games which tackle similar subjects, it doesn’t sacrifice fun gameplay, though the story flows just as naturally and is definitely worth a look.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Sea of Solitude - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Jessica
Jessica


Games are my escape and writing is my passion.

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