Call of the Sea is an adventure video game developed by Out of the Blue and published by Raw Fury, releasing in late 2020. Set in the 1930s, players assume control of Norah Everhart. She must explore an island in the Pacific to find her husband, Harry, who has gone missing after embarking on an expedition.
One day, Norah receives a package containing a strange ritualistic knife and a photograph of her husband Harry. There is a note on the back of the photo that says 74 nautical miles east of Tahiti. Harry went there to search for a cure for a mysterious illness that has plagued Norah’s family, killing her grandfather, mother, and slowly killing Norah as well. Norah arrives on the island and begins to follow the bread crump trail left behind by Harry. It soon becomes apparent that the expedition didn’t go as smoothly as hoped. Norah will discover much more than she could have ever imagined in her wildest dreams.
As Norah, you must solve a number of well-designed puzzles in order to progress the story. Surveying every inch of the different environments is essential so that you can find all of the necessary clues to help solve each puzzle. Also, there are a huge number of collectible documents that give you further insight into the goings on. The game does not feature any kind of combat system.
During the Xbox showcase back in May 2020, Call of the Sea really stood out to me. When it released via Game Pass, there was no way I wasn’t not checking it out.
Firstly, let me mention the gorgeous visuals in the game. I love how bright and vibrant everything is, the colours really pop. Unfortunately, it can be a bit too bright and dark in areas making visibility a problem. During a recent patch, a brightness adjuster was added to the settings. However, this was not in place when I played the game. Another thing, Norah moves painfully slow even when running. I’ve never seen someone climb a ladder so slowly outside of a WWE ladder match. Again, this appears to have been somewhat fixed but I’m basing my review on how the game was when I played it.
The story is wonderfully told and it takes a few unexpected turns. At its core, this is a tale of true love and the lengths one person is willing to go for another. It’s very touching and is helped greatly by some impeccable voice work. Norah is a likeable character and I really rooted for her to be reunited with Harry. In some ways, Call of the Sea reminded me of games like Firewatch or What Remains of Edith Finch. However, in terms of its gameplay it’s like chalk and cheese to those other games.
Let’s talk about the puzzles. I’ll put it this way, no game has made me feel as dumb as this game did. They are clearly really thought out by the developers but I found the vast majority of them purposely confusing. The game seemingly gives you false clues at times which makes matters even worse. Once you find the solution you’ll feel silly for getting so stumped but there were moments when I still didn’t get what I was meant to be looking at. I am proud that I managed to figure one or two out without looking up help. However, if you can beat the whole game without doing so then you have a lot more patience then me. Spending an hour on a single puzzle can really hurt the momentum of the story which was what I cared most about.
Finally, I did suffer some performances issues with the game. There are some water sections where the framerate dropped to nauseating levels.
Overall, Call of the Sea tells a wonderful tale of love and sacrifice. It’s very pretty and exploring the different areas for clues was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, those puzzles really annoyed me. However, it’s very likely that I am simply an idiot which is no fault of the game.
The Final Score - 7.5/10