THis first-person puzzle adventure is set in the mysterious Polynesian island of 1934. You play as Nora. Nora is a woman suffering from a strange illness that causes black spots on her hands, believing that there is a cure in the island’s secrets. You arrive in search of Nora’s husband, Harry. Harry came here to look for a cure, but hasn’t returned yet. When exploring the jungle, you rely on the hints Harry left behind, and through his diary notes and Nora’s remarks, we get the feeling that their relationship is sweet and tragically romantic.
It’s all a set dresser. The Call of the Sea is a really complex escape room, puzzle-centric and the story is purely for taste. It can occur in the Roman Empire as easily as Mars in 2087, or the island in 1934. As a result, there are some “horrible savage” metaphors that haven’t really been investigated, but this isn’t a game driven by. That story.
The puzzles are carefully crafted to make you feel like you’re running along a sensible difficulty curve instead of hitting a wall. Each chapter is one different puzzle, and the more you explore, the more hierarchical and complex it becomes. The most useful feature is Nora’s notebook. She writes down only the actual clues and leaves space to show if you missed it. Some puzzles are difficult to unravel, but you’ll never pull your hair out trying to determine if this bird photo is the key to everything. If it’s not in Nora’s notebook, it doesn’t matter.
In a true escape room style, you often come across devices that you still don’t know what to do, as the clues go further. This makes the game feel more like a journey than a procession of puzzles. The area you can explore in each chapter is small, and you can always turn some huts upside down to find clues. But I realized I was afraid of the underwater section – the sea definitely didn’t call me. The slogan is to look for clues while submerged, but ironically, the story is the strongest under the waves.
As with any great puzzle game, there is a special satisfaction in finding a solution to a difficult problem that has puzzled you, and that is the best reward for the game. The call of the sea enlivens the story towards the end, but I care much more about the clues than the story of Nora and Harry. It’s frustrating as the best puzzles do well, but the solution doesn’t feel a hassle or gimmick. This is definitely for the pencil biter to check.