Call of the Sea is a first-person adventure puzzle game set in the 1930's that tells the story of Norah, a woman on the trail of her missing husband's expedition. The search takes place on a strange but beautiful island in the South Pacific, filled with secrets waiting to be unearthed. It’s an otherworldly tale of mystery, adventure, and self-discovery.
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I covered this game as part of my coverage of the Humble Choice for June 2022
A puzzle game set on an island.
Call of the Sea is a puzzle game that also feels like it’s a bit of a walking simulator. Players will explore an island, finding tons of small items to pick up and investigate. Many of which are involved in elaborate puzzles. Truthfully I only was able to solve two or three puzzles during my time with the title, but all of them were solid, with the third one taking the majority of the time.
The issue with Call of the Sea is the puzzle I got stuck on, stumped me for a long time, however after getting a single hint, it all clicked into place, but that was after about twenty to thirty minutes. I found one solution but there’s another explanation for it, and I appreciate that, but I can also see this game will challenge players.
It’s the writing and voice acting that deserve a special mention because this is a compelling story from the first hour and I want to see where it goes. There are a few tropes involved, but there’s also a lot of mystery and intrigue.
Pick this up if you like challenging puzzle games and solid stories. This feels like an absolute hit with the understanding the puzzles might be extremely hard to solve, but good puzzle games will be somewhere on the scale between challenging and obscure, and I think this was more about difficulty so far than poorly designed puzzles.
I’m planning on coming back to this as soon as possible.
If you want to see the video this was taken of, or more from me on the Humble Choice or Game Pass, check out: https://youtu.be/NPxN2M0c65w
What if Myst had a spoken story and a voiceover that held your hand through every puzzle while commenting on every random object scattered throughout the world?
Most of what pushed me through Call of the Sea was an interesting mystery I wanted to get to the bottom of as well as some occasionally neat puzzles.
The puzzles are a mix of "wait what am I supposed to do with this?" and "OK I get it you don't need to walk me through every step of putting this round thing in the round hole". It would've been nice if they had threaded that needle a bit better.
While the mystery was interesting, the moment-to-moment writing was pretty bad. The protagonist is constantly commenting on every single thing she finds throughout the world and it truly feels like they ran out of things for her to say. Voice acting left a bit to be desired as well.
I enjoyed the game for the most part but the ending was pretty bad and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Not sure if I'd recommend it. I think there are better games like this.
+ Intriguing mystery
+ Some interesting puzzles
- Bad moment to moment writing
- Too much narrating
- Iffy voice talent
- Occasionally confusing puzzles
- Terrible ending
“Call of the Sea” gripped my attention and anticipation based solely on the trailer’s gorgeous art style and mysterious hints at the story—I’m thrilled to say the game lived up to my expectations with solid puzzles, believable core characters, and a fresh exploration of a timeless tension in the human experience.
First things first—the puzzles in this game are near-perfect by my account! They all got me to pause, slow down, and think, but they also always gave me the information I needed, or at least made me feel like it was accessible. I never felt like I was spinning my wheels on a puzzle, and I only looked up two hints online throughout the entire play-through. Nora helpfully tracks all puzzle-significant information in her notebook to eliminate back-tracking! Of course, it helps that the puzzles all take place within beautiful environments.
Then there are the characters! Nora and Harry present one of the most realistic video game romances I’ve personally experienced, all through simple interactions in letters and self-speak. I absolutely adored every time I got to read one of Harry’s letters to his “old pal.” Beyond these two, the rest of the expedition crew, whom you meet entirely through collectibles, are a mixed bag of forgettable and memorable characters, pretty much based on how long they stick around in the story. My one great wish is that these characters had been humanized more.
Finally, the story of the game explores a timeless tension within the human experience, but one I will not spoil for you. Simply know that the beautiful environments are the beginning of a wonder-filled journey that brings the player to life even as it does so for Nora!
For anyone who has GamePass, this is absolutely a worthy play; heck, even its 19.99 price tag for non-subscribers is more than fair for what you are getting! Check this game out—I truly believe you won’t regret it!