Call of the Sea
Norah receives a mysterious package after her husband goes missing during an expedition to a remote island off of Tahiti. There is just one small issue, Norah is suffering from a disease that makes her weak. So, taking off on an adventure is a little crazy but it’s worth it to find her husband. Playing as Norah, you run into some issues when you get to Tahiti. Locals do not go to the island and are very reluctant to get near the island. Luckily, you find one crew that agrees to take you there and pick you up at a later date. The island is where our adventure and search begins.
The island is immediately mysterious and beautiful. Strangely, you feel stronger and healthier than ever. It’s so isolated that you feel free to search anywhere with no fear of another human. Even though you know that there has to be something wrong because your husband and his crew disappeared here. Almost immediately, you run into your first mystery. There are large doors and pikes everywhere that don’t match up with the local South Pacific architecture. To get through the doors, you will have to search for clues and put them together to open the gates before you can delve deeper into the jungle.
As you make your way further into the island, you find disturbing letters, photos, and recordings strewn amongst abandoned camps. Almost immediately, you find hints of something supernatural or otherworldly happening on the island. There is a black goo that seems to have caused insanity in at least one of the expeditions crew. Yet you have yet to find anyone or their remains anywhere on the island. As the story unravels, it seems there are always more questions than answers.
I didn’t look into anything about Call of the Sea, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is an adventure point and click in the same vein as the Sierra games from the 90’s and early 00’s. The puzzles are just complex enough to be interesting and just obscure enough to not make them boring. I only ran into one puzzle that made zero sense to me. I actually had to go get a hint and even then, I was confused but that is likely due to me being a dummy. You have to search all of the camps and make sure to do so thoroughly otherwise you will, for sure, miss something that is incredibly important to the puzzle.
That is where I ran into an issue. There are little dots or symbols on things you can look at and, in some cases, you have to be in an exact position to see the dot and if there isn’t a dot you can’t interact. There was a couple of times where I was completely lost and then happened to walk by a mural or paper and because it was at a different angle it gave me the image. It would always end up being the last piece to the puzzle it seemed. In fact, there were a couple of times where I interacted with something and then did it again just out of frustration and, for whatever reason, that time she wrote a note in the journal about it and it was the key to unlocking a series of puzzles. It was frustrating and made me question things later in the game. I kept wondering if I would have to go and click a bunch of stuff again to figure out if the first time just wasn’t good enough.
The visuals were striking and very colorful. I loved traversing the island and seeing all of the sights. The dream sequences were interesting, beautiful and, in some cases, terrifying. It looks a lot like Ori in many ways, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Because where Ori was successful in juxtaposing beauty and a foreboding ominous feeling, Call of the Sea fails. I felt like the they were attempting in sections to make the island feel dangerous but it came off more like a fun romp. There was only one part that I definitely felt that something ominous was about to happen and that was because of the drastic departure in color palette and visuals.
The H.P. Lovecraft feel was great and kept me interested throughout, saving the game from dropping into mediocrity. The failure to capture the danger/foreboding doom graphically is saved by the story. There is the possibility of a curse, extra-terrestrials, sea monsters, elder gods, or a million other creepy things associated with the island and the author that inspired it. A lesser story would make this game completely unremarkable and I would have dropped out. But by the end, I was compelled to continue and even when I was blocked or confused, I was drawn forward because Call of the Sea keeps teasing you with answers while piling on more questions. Some of the systems that are used on the island are spooky and intriguing and, honestly, clever. There is a pipe organ that harnesses the sea to create the notes and it is one of the coolest devices I have seen in a game. The way it is activated and used is a feat but one that could plausibly be done by ancient technology. It kind of has an Ancient Aliens feel at this point in the story but it’s in the best way possible.
To sum it all up, Call of the Sea is an above average point and click walking simulator. It does have some flaws but overall pulls you in because you want to get answers to its intriguing questions. When you first land on the island you will definitely be struck by the beauty and colorful world that have been created. Unfortunately,
it fails to capture the foreboding of the story itself. The best part about Call of the Sea is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It tells a compelling story at a brisk pace that is long enough to support its twenty-dollar price tag (or free if you have GamePass). I believe that anyone that likes a puzzle, adventure, or point and click game would enjoy it immensely. It would get bonus points from anyone who is a fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories.!