Electronic Arts is mostly known for annual sports games and the bombastic military shooters it produces on a regular basis. But on the other side of the coin, they have a programme called EA Originals, an initiative that supports independent developers in their quest to make something truly special and interesting, such as Unravel and A Way Out, and Sea of Solitude is one such special game.
Game director Cornelia Geppert described the game as a very personal tale of regret, taking responsibility and dealing with a breakup she experienced in her personal life, and the passion shines through tremendously.
All alone in an open sea
Sea of Solitude sees you following the story of Kay, a young lady that’s covered in an all shadowy black with red eyes, who finds herself sitting alone in a small little boat in a city that’s completely covered in the water of a vast ocean. The story has her set out to try and figure what is going on, but she quickly finds out that she is not alone, as there are dark monsters in the water that try and consume her. She makes her way around using a flare for navigation, and the light of a lantern on the boat to traverse the dangerous seas and rooftops of the city.
Kay is not entirely alone though, as a girl in a bright yellow raincoat does show up to guide and aid her. She also has some abilities to help her, as she can light up an entire area by dispelling the ‘corruption’ by funnelling it into her backpack.
Sea of Solitude has some pretty big areas to explore and some collectables to be found. Because of this, you can quickly lose track of where you need to go. Luckily you have the ability to shoot a flare in order to find your way. The design of the game makes it pretty simple to keep track of where you are and while it can seem big, it never feels like you’re going completely out of your way.
A short, yet emotional experience
Sea of Solitude is not the longest of games. In fact, it can be seen as a bit on the short side, and due to a pretty linear experience, it doesn’t really have much replay value to it, unless you are a 100% completionist.
The four odd hours you will spend with Kay will be quite an emotional and powerful experience.
That said, the four odd hours you will spend with Kay will be quite an emotional and powerful experience, as you come to grips with the person that she is, and the inner emotions and demons that she needs to deal with. The story can at times be a bit predictable, as it deals with things that many of us have gone through, but it still has an impact in the way it is told, and with how Kay learns to deal with the regrets of her past. Sea of Solitude won’t render you into an emotional wreck, but it will invoke some feelings and emotions in you, probably because of you seeing yourself in Kay in some way.
Stunningly designed and fun to play
The game is pretty simple to play, as it doesn’t employ a bunch of overly complicated mechanics. It does have some horror elements to it, but at no point will it give you a heart attack because of jump scares.
The art direction, music and sound design of the game are incredible, and while some might not like the stylised feel of Sea of Solitude, I quickly fell in love with the setting and environment that was created. The voice acting of Kay and all the other characters she encounters on her journey is also damn good, and it helps a lot to give the story that is being told some weight and impact.
You also won’t easily get bored with gameplay elements, and while the mechanics stay the same throughout, you will seldom find yourself repeating the same type of things over and over again during the time you’re playing the game.
A true indie gem
Sea of Solitude is a game that most probably won’t turn a lot of heads as it doesn’t do anything wholly original, but what it does have is a lot of charm and it executes what it sets out to do with a helluva lot of competency and flair. It’s not a game that will invoke a bunch of raw emotion, but you will feel something when you reach the end of it.
It certainly is worth your time since it won’t take too much of it and is a true gem that deserves to be played, as it tells a story that just about all of us can relate to.