Norah knows something is wrong the moment she sets foot on the island. Despite its inviting beauty, a strange ambience permeates the air. After all, this is the same place that may have claimed the life of her husband, Harry, who never returned from an expedition here to find a cure for Norah’s mysterious illness. This time, it’s Norah’s job to save him. Call of the Sea is Out of the Blue Games’ marvelous debut title and mixes a tantalizing mystery that sets itself against equally engaging puzzle solving and exploration.
The beautiful presentation of Call of the Sea attracted me from the start. From lush jungles to breathtaking shipwrecks, it’s a beautiful game, and many scenes would look quite at home on a postcard. The ancient ruins also impressed me with their haunting beauty and during times when seemingly impossible machines come to life.
Norah is more Nancy Drew than Lara Croft, so puzzles take priority over combat, and they succeed with clever design and great variety. What I love most is how Call of the Sea makes you feel both an attentive sleuth and a problem-solving genius. He takes advantage of his alluring beauty by encouraging players to look all around them for clues and connect dots. An old wall painting or a hastily drawn sketch can often be the difference between a quick fix and a more prolonged head scratch. Inspecting curious objects and notes is part of the fun, and nothing is ever too hidden. I always found everything I needed if I was reasonably thorough in my research. Additionally, Norah writes down important information in her journal, which alleviates a lot of the memory pressure.
The puzzles come in many cool shapes and sizes; they can be as simple as rotating totem poles to match a specific pattern, or as elaborate as deciphering a dead language. One of the biggest and most awe-inspiring challenges put me in discovering the right melody to play on a giant, ancient organ. Smaller puzzles often feed into larger ones to create a cohesive whole, and it’s fun to see how the puzzles are constructed by theme. Call of the Sea regularly surprised me with its puzzle design, and I was always looking forward to seeing the sequel.
The challenges become more complicated as Norah penetrates deep into the island. Most of the puzzles are reasonably difficult, but a couple feel too obtuse. A particularly infuriating example is using symbols to activate a series of locks to open a door. It’s a smart idea on paper, but after exhausting the area of all of its notes and visual clues, it felt like the game still wasn’t clearly communicating a key milestone – like I’m missing a crucial piece of a puzzle. cool. I eventually resorted to a walkthrough, and I’m still not sure what the answer means.
However, when the going got tough, the strong narrative propelled me forward. I loved taking notes with more details about Harry’s expedition and a better understanding of Norah’s illness. The story takes dark and surprising turns that lead to a surprising and above all satisfying conclusion. With the emphasis on ancient tribes, mysticism, and death, the endearing bond between Norah and Harry manages to shine even when Norah is the only one providing insight.
Call of the Sea kept me hooked from start to finish, making it a trip worth taking on. I could have got lost on this island and solving puzzles for double its actual running time (around six hours), but the game spends as much time as it needs to tell its story and test your head. It’s an island worth blocking out.