Developer: Out of the Blue
Platform(s): PC, PS4 (Reviewed), PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Gene(s): Electronic puzzle game, first-person adventure
Publisher: Raw Fury
The cosmic horror universe created by H.P. Lovecraft has already served as inspiration for several movies and games and now, developer Out of the Blue has decided to drink from this fountain, Call of the Sea, its action-puzzle title is based on the works of the famous writer.
You play as Norah, a woman suffering from an unknown disease (some black spots on both hands and sometimes has a hard difficulty on standing up or walking). Call of the Sea invites the player to explore a mysterious island off the coast of Tahiti in 1934 and try to decipher the unexplained disappearance of an archaeological expedition. The group, led by Harry, searched the local ruins and legends surrounding the region for a cure for the strange condition that afflicts Norah, after a few months without any kind of news from her husband, she receives a package in the mail with an old photo, a key with the initials CW and a bizarre dagger. The mission seems simple at first: find him. However, there is more to his illness and this island than one might think at first.
As the plot unfolds, we discover more details about the unfortunate ending of those who dared to set foot on the island, how their sanity gradually ebbed away, and we are forced to help Norah make a difficult decision: live or love.
The game has a great start! Directly linking to the great Cthulhu’s lore, the opening/beginning of the game is already amazing and very immersive.
The game has so much care on its creation like some letters have a short cutscene to illustrate what happened in the letter, this kind of detail gets me every time. Another great thing is that those who had read the books will see a bunch of direct references! Like de Vinyl from “The Music of Erich Zann” (One of my favourite tales by the way) or a newspaper talking about the family who lived on the farm from “Colour out of space”. So, if you are included in this level of appreciation of Lovecraft’s work, I strongly suggest you read everything! Another interesting writer to have a look at before you play is Julio Verne, I was lucky at this point, because I have read “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas”, and the book talks about the wonders of the mysteries that are hidden in the deeps of the sea.
The graphics reminded me a lot of Bioshock 3, being half drawn and half 3D. It has a brilliant landscape, worth it to take a few minutes to appreciate it.
Even though the games have this gigantic Lovecraft’s atmosphere, it brings a beautiful and joyful scenario with lots of singing birds… colours… and sunlight. Well… most of it anyway it does get dark as you go. So, from the first moments of Call of the Sea, it is evident that the game is inspired by many classic works of literature. Here we have clear evidence pointing to Julio Verne and H.P. Lovecraft. So that being said, Verne brings the amazing and beautiful part of the unknown in the meanwhile, Lovecraft, brings the dark cosmic part, which was an excellent mix for me and the game did it with perfection, as it’s not a Lovecraftian horror game, but it doesn’t leave aside its mysteries and influences.
Call of the Sea is divided into chapters where you’ll have to unravel specific puzzles to have the means to solve an even bigger one that will give you the possibility to advance to the next part.
Assuming a didactic stance, the game starts the adventure calmly, with relatively simple challenges. However, as you progress into the island, the puzzles get more difficult with loads of “complex” puzzles that were made, so you take your time to solve them, they aren’t that easy but also not impossible that you would get stuck for days on it if you get all the clues that the game always gives you. So, remember, don’t play this game for the first time if you’re in a hurry. The best thing about these puzzles is that they are extremely rewarding when solved.
For me that the only bummer I saw during the game, was the fact that you can’t jump cutscenes nor dialogues, that’s a bit annoying when you are playing the game for the second and third time.
Norah has a diary which is extremely important to keep track of the updates that she does, so you have a beautiful immersion during this amazing experience. Every time Norah sees something important, a new note will appear in her notebook, and it’s with these tips that the player needs to unravel the problems to advance to the next area and understand more about Henry’s fate and the evil that befalls our explorer.
A good feature of the game is the fact that you can save anytime and continue exactly where you were at the moment you saved the game.
The soundtrack and sounds during the game are all impeccable! They go perfectly with the game’s atmosphere. My suggestion is that you play the game with a loud 5.1 Home heater or a good Headset, so you can feel the surroundings.
The voice acting is amazing, every single one of them does an excellent job, and we are accompanied by their beautiful narration until the last minutes of a short but memorable game. Part of the charm that captivates us comes precisely from the exceptional dubbing of Cissy Jones, a veteran of electronic games. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the cast does a good job too, but Norah’s is the soul of the game.
Call of the Sea was such a great surprise to me, from the first moment I saw a trailer I was intrigued with this game, being a huge fan of Lovecraft’s work, I was “puzzled” with this game and what it’s about. When the opportunity of reviewing it, I was delighted to do it and the game gave me more than I was expecting from the beginning to the end of it, this is a 10 out of 10 game since you press “Start a new game”. I really hope that more and more games like this one keep coming.
Ps: Thank you Raw Fury for the opportunity of reviewing this game.