German indie studio Jo-Mei Games is behind this beautiful looking adventure title, with notorious money-hoarding behemoth EA the publisher. It certainly looks the part, but doesn’t quite deliver the goods.
Sea of Solitude
When a developer takes on the task of making a game that’s not supposed to be outright fun… that’s something of an issue.
Sea of Solitude is supposed to offer an insight into the horrible world of depression. Whilst that’s a noble endeavour, is it really a sound creative decision?
You star as Kay, a young lady who is journeying to become a human again.
She dwells on her past and her struggles with anxiety and depression, which are worsened by giant monsters that lurk in the surrounding waters of a flooded city. It’s your task to guide Kay towards a more positive outlook and to overcome inner demons.
Now, absolutely no one is complaining about Sea of Solitude’s looks. The artistic style is wonderful and ever-evolving.
The problem is it’s not a particularly enjoyable or rewarding game. It’s like talking to an attractive individual only to find out he or she is about as emotionally engaging as a rattlesnake.
It’s a useful reminder that exceptional physical appearance is no match for inner charisma. As it is, Sea of Solitude is shallow in its gameplay punch, but beautiful to behold. And that’s not enough to maintain your attention.
Guy Jackson’s strong soundtrack does go some way to take the edge off the shortcomings.
It works at its best in the quieter piano compositions, as occasionally it tries to live up to Sea of Solitude’s lofty intellectual ambitions.
The orchestral choir is a bit old hat these days, we find. Roll out the high-pitched vocals to stir those inner emotions, eh? We find a beautiful piano piece is much more effective.
Full marks for effort to Jo-Mei Games as a lot of work has gone into aiming for someting special, it’s just a real shame the gameplay is so uninspired.
If you’re willing to overlook the gameplay issues, you may still get something out of this. Yes, it looks great – and it has a strong start. The soundtrack is also strirring.
Plus the noble effort of challenging mental health issues is highly commendable, as is the innovative approach to not brush over the nature of mental illness.
And that’s why we’re disappointed it’s so lacking in engagement factor. It’s all rather flat as an experience. As such, we recommend RiME for a similar title that delivers more on its promise.