Call of the Sea is impressive and immersive. I can’t think of many more examples of a better puzzle game with such an interesting story binding it together.
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle,
Developer: Out of the Blue
Publisher: Raw Fury
Release date: 8 Dec, 2020
Call of the Sea is a first-person adventure and puzzle game set during the 1930’s.
After years and years of appointments and medical referrals, the doctors have all but given up on Norah’s unusual and rare condition. In pain, and suffering from horrible nightmares and visions, her husband Harry decides to embark on a quest to solve the riddle behind her affliction. The trail takes him to a remote island in the South Pacific that the locals fear and have named “The Island of Death”. When Harry goes missing without trace, Norah musters all her energy and travels to the island to investigate.
You play as Norah Everhart, devoted wife to Harry Everhart.
In search of your missing husband, you arrive on a mysterious island and must explore for clues to Harry’s whereabouts. Along the way you will find evidence of your husband’s progress in trying to find a cure for your illness, and clues to his whereabouts and what happened to his party.
Norah has a journal where she notes important finds, and documents clues to puzzles which block her progress. You can refer to the diary at any time which provides invaluable help. The diary has a notes section which recaps the story and a log section which places all clues to puzzles.
If an object is examinable, then an eye symbol will appear. The object can be rotated which sometimes reveals more information. Norah will comment on the object and any important information is noted.
Sometimes Norah will find a letter that Harry has written for her. This produces a small cutscene detailing Harry’s efforts in finding a cure and his concerns and worries.
Collecting clues is vital to progressing so you’ll need to examine everything you can. The notebook page should be full if you are harboring all valuable evidence so if there is a gap on the page you’ll need to keep looking.
Using the evidence in your notes and logs you’ll need to solve the puzzles at hand. You do not have an inventory as such but occasionally you will pick up objects that will be automatically used on the correct puzzle.
The puzzles are varied and interesting and can be quite challenging. There is a mixture of smaller and easier puzzles along with bigger ones with multiple facets. One of the first puzzles you’ll encounter is actually broken and referring to a guide proved this. If you get stuck on the lens aligner puzzle then you’ll need to look up the solution until it’s fixed.
Norah sometimes enters a dream like state brought on by her illness. This manifests into a short sequence away from reality and into some strange places.
There are also sequences which take you underwater where there are puzzles to perform and objects to find.
The story progresses in a few different ways but mostly by examining objects that reveal clues into what has happened. There are story board events, and personal messages between Norah and Harry left in letter form.
There is a lot of interesting lore to find on Polynesian culture and the island is wrapped in mystery and ritual occurrences.
Keyboard or controller can be used.
There are lots of interesting achievements to gather, including hidden objects located in some difficult places to find.
I loved Call of the Sea. I just didn’t want to stop playing it.
The atmosphere is superbly done with layers and layers of lore, intrigue and mystery added to the mix at just the right times. There is even a short, but informative, seven-part prequel story in the news section to wet your appetite and introduce you to the two main characters. Check it out before you start!
I really enjoy good character development and the relationship between the two main characters is what drives the story forward. Norah and Harry are as deeply in love as the day they met, and this is portrayed wonderfully through voiced cut scenes, and letter correspondence between the two of them. The game manages to convince you that they have the perfect relationship and would do anything for each other. There are lots of different types of lore lying around to enforce this notion, from inscribed photographs showing special memories to events in their lives that we witness. I really enjoyed this part of the game as it made it feel like more than just a puzzle game loosely tied together.
The game felt like a true adventure where you cared about the characters and you wanted to know what happened to Harry and you wanted Norah to find him.
There is plenty of exploration to do, and lots of objects to examine. Objects that can be examined will invoke either a text-based summation and/or a voiced comment from Norah. Inspecting objects will add to the lore and reveal parts about the story and island. It is all cleverly layered and keeps the intrigue high.
Puzzles were imaginative but quite difficult I thought. I managed to solve them without any guides apart from two. One of these puzzles is broken and the other was slightly misleading. The puzzles were cleverly entwined around the story, which is mostly Polynesian based, and added to the immersion and feeling that the puzzle was part of finding Harry rather than a disconnected puzzle for the sake of it.
Some puzzles required making notes, even though there is a diary where all important clues and puzzle notes get added. The diary can only be brought up on full screen however which means you are flicking between puzzle and diary. I would have liked the option to have the diary visible alongside the puzzle so that you refer to it and solve the puzzle simultaneously.
I think most people will struggle with these puzzles. They take a bit of exploration to find the objects needed to provide the clues and when you have all the clues, it takes a fair bit of brain power to work them out. Personally, they hit just the right difficulty level with me and although I struggled, it was immensely satisfying when you reach that Eureka moment.
The island setting is beautiful and voice acting is superb. Cut scenes are dramatic and have a high production feel. The whole game feels mysterious and eerie.
The story is one of the best I have experienced in a puzzle game. Characters are strong and well developed with wonderful music and sound effects accompanying it.
There are six chapters and I played through the game twice to gain all the achievements. It took me around twenty hours to do so.
The graphics were beautiful. The game felt polished and professional. I did get some screen tearing in the early chapters though but this seemed to resolve itself later.
The island is well detailed and they’ve put a lot of effort into the Polynesian look and feel.
Voice acting was superb and there is a wonderful orchestral tune played for dramatic effect when required.
Call of the Sea has the complete package.
I wish there were more games around like this. Often games suffer in one department and excel in others. Call of the Sea manages to produce a wonderfully intriguing story, characters who you want to invest your feelings with, a great setting full of eerie tales and mystery, and genuinely challenging and clever puzzles.
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you buy this. Definitely one of the best games I have played this year.