IntroductionWelcome to the Bermuda Triangle! Whether there will be a coinciding "Goodbye Bermuda Triangle" is still to be determined. A freak storm has caused your plane to crash, leaving you washed up on the beach of chain islands. Realizing the predicament you are in as you quickly find your crashed plane nearby, you luck out and also find a machete. Venturing into the island, you eventually come across the first of many survivors. Although they are survivors like yourself, they are still strangers. Countless others have felt the wrath of the Bermuda Triangle's storms, and have shared with you the unfortunate luck to wash up on these very islands. Speaking with him for a moment offers rewards. It turns out he is somewhat of a merchant on these islands and operates on the very ports you will sail to and from. With his help and the help of others alike, you set forth on a journey to escape this dangerous section of ocean waters. This is a single-player action roleplaying game, with no DLC, purchasable July 5th on Steam. You can also purchase it now through the Microsoft Store or PlayStation Network for $14.99.
GameplayThe game, although is very simple when looking at it as a whole, makes it so without being boring. The concept is to pick one of the seven starting characters, explore each island, find at least one tablet giving you coordinates, and sail to the next as you work up the chains. These tablets will determine how many islands you skip ahead, sometimes being just two, and sometimes being three or four, all depending on how many you find and return to ports. Islands will have one of three difficulties: easy, medium, or hard.
After finding one or more tablets on an island, you'll return to the port where you will deposit them on a large map stand, unlocking the option to travel to a new island. You may stay and finish exploring, or you can simply "leave island" by speaking with the merchant at the port. Regardless of where you are on the island, your compass in the top-right corner will always have an indicator for where the dock is located. Occasionally you will need to find a key somewhere on the map in order to unlock a giant door that leads to more unexplored regions. Typically you will find the key somewhere nearby. The key will be pocketed so you can still fight enemies while traveling back to the door.
There are two forms of currency in this game: experience, which allows you to purchase player upgrades such as increased health finds, sprint, special attacks, and dodging abilities. The other is gold, which will be used to upgrade your ship to allow tablets to show up on your island maps, islands carrying treasure, and other crew related perks. Every island is built with hexagon regions. This makes it incredibly easy to navigate from one to the next as they show you the borders of the island, as well as how to get to the connecting one. They mark points of interest after stepping in them. Potential crew members will also be shown as a black outline of them, while templates (after unlocking a perk showing them on the unexplored maps) will show up in their respected regions distinctly.
Enemies are unique to their regions, but you'll find similarity in the way they attack. Each chain of islands will have near harmless enemies who can only hurt you if you run into them, some who will shoot poison or seed-looking projectiles at you, and others who will be brute smashers if you stand too close. The first chain of islands matched me up against dodo birds (the ones that only hurt if you bump into them), poisonous frogs who if not hit quickly will jump high up and attempt to body slam you, and bigfoot inspired enemies who get close to you in order to bash the ground. One other enemy I ran into within the first two chains, and was incredibly frustrating at first, was a small innocent looking raptor. They were anything but innocent. In fact, they were the fastest of all the enemies, as well as dangerous. They dash quickly and if you don't take the aggressive approach and attack first, they can easily get the best of you. Mastering those encounters with them is tough at first, and as soon as you think you've perfected them, the next island will be giving them armor and they will be slightly larger.
The game pushes you to play it at one time which can be off-putting to some that you can't play for an hour or so, save progress, put on another game for awhile, and then come back to it later. If you die, you restart from scratch (although later you can warp to different chains when starting over and also carry over a small percentage of experience and money to spend on upgrades), and if you quit, you restart from scratch with no form of currency carried over. When first playing, I was even slightly discouraged about this system, but after playing for hours-on-end I began to perfect all the different parts of the game. I developed a plan to speed my way through many islands with the help of valuable perk and skill upgrades, and began to feel it is something that can easily be completed in a single sitting.
SurvivingThe game is unforgiving when it comes to death. When crew members die, they are forever gone, and you are no different. Death will force you to start back from the very first island (second if you count the tutorial island). If you've survived the first chain of islands long enough and came out victorious against the boss, you will be able to warp to any chain of islands you want. There are 4 chains total, each with their own theme of being tropical, deserts, swamps, or tundra inspired environments.
Health is hard to come by. Unless you are lucky to find a health pack for yourself and crew members from a locked chest, your only option is to focus your attention on the environment. Cutting down bushes will yield small amounts of health but is based on a completely random system. You can also find giant purple glowing trees which will give you a massive amount, but these will mostly be found on the other side of a bridge (crew member importance), or following a boss fight. As you gain experience, you'll be able to purchase a skill that will give you a chance to find health from enemies. This is almost the number one upgrade you need, because it makes a huge difference.
Clearing out enemies and cutting down bushes, every chance you can, will be the best strategic plan. Not only will you become very good at the tactics within each small enemy encounter, you'll be clearing out a safe route back to the port when you've found one of the tablets. Enemies do not repopulate in the game, so clearing them out once will promise a safe and rewarding island visit.
Crew MembersAh, crew members. What would you do without them? Sure they may cower in fear from every enemy, and they would rather you do all the fighting, but they are very helpful in this game of survival. You start with only 1 crew member slot available, but in time can have a following of up to 4 (still a single-player game though). These members of true expendability will come and go all the time. There will be at least 2 new recruits on each island, who will all offer their own set of skills to be evaluated. The skills you will find will consist of them being able to lock pick large chests throughout the islands (where you will find the power abilities), build bridges, boost your experience gain, increase your standard attack damage, and revive you (one time), to name a few.
Recruiting them is as simple as pressing a button, but losing them is somehow almost just as easy. I found myself leaving them behind when running away from fights, where I would then sail off to the next island for adventure by myself. They have a heart icon hovering above them showing their health. For the most part they are able to sustain this for awhile, but only if you're careful with them. Like mentioned earlier, they really do cower in fear from attacking enemies. They will bend of and shake, leaving them sitting ducks for attacks. Because they follow you nearly step-by-step, you need to be somewhat strategic with where they cower down at during a fight. Being aggressive and not letting the enemy come close is the absolute best way to prevent them from taking too much damage.
Alongside the perks they bring to the table, they are useful for carrying those heavy tablets back to the port. When on an island with more than one tablet, it pays to have as many crew members carrying as many tablets as possible. Don't forget these tablets stack up when sailing to new islands, and running back and forth is time consuming.
Sound and GraphicsThe game is built with bright environments. Everything has a nicely bolded outline making it extremely easy on the eyes. Rotating the camera shows the 3-dimensions of all the artworks, making the game more immersive as a whole. Its very smooth flowing with the camera, with little motion blur, and is easy to distinguish the different elements of the environment from one another. As much as the camera allows smoothness, enemies and characters move just as smooth. I did not experience any frame stuttering or breaks in the flowing motions while playing.
The night and day cycle does not take anything away from the graphics either; the rain is soft while the lantern produces the perfect amount of lighting during the night time. They gently roll into one another, preventing a strong preference for one while despising playing during the other.
The sound fits the theme of the game. It has a tropical island tone at times, and at others has an adventurous-conquering feeling. It matches the sense of adventure and dually reminds you somehow that you are not quite safe yet. Enemies have their unique sound effects, and so do the characters. Although there are no voices in the game, the characters reminded me of older LEGO video games with the mumbles, shouts, and subtle sounds of being scared.
ConclusionLost Sea is a colorful game that is easy on the eyes, mind, and controller. A simple game system that never becomes too boring, and an experience that is more than suited for younger kids as well as older gamers who are looking to break up the monotony of everything reaching for realism. It can challenge you when it comes to stressing over the death/restart features, but after learning everything there is to learn, it can become a breeze to catch up to where you were and push on further. A save function would have been appreciated, but the game works around it in overall gameplay style. Take it for the indie game it is, and you'll find you might surprisingly really like this game.
|+ Engaging gameplay|| - Can be short re-play-throughs|
|+ Bright and sharp environments|| - No saving progress|
|+ Gameplay system easy to understand|| |
|+ Friendly characters|