The Xbox Series line of consoles and the PlayStation 5 are now a reality. And both parties have some impressive things going on within their spaces. The PS5 launched with some amazing exclusives, while the Xbox boasts better performance on multiplatform titles. However, the PS5 does come up on top thanks to the games on offer alone. The ghost, that was the lack of exclusive games, from the Xbox One era still seems to haunt Microsoft’s and its new consoles at launch. But not for long though.
Listen to our Gaming Expert’s prediction on The Future of Console Gaming before jumping into the review.
Microsoft has been very vocal about their effort to bring exclusives from both first- and third-party studios. Yakuza: Like a dragon could be one of those attempts, albeit reserving console exclusivity for a short period of time. From this point of view, the Xbox platform’s first notable exclusive is Call of the Sea, which graces the old and new generation Xbox consoles alongside PC. And if this game is any indication of things to come, we have plenty of reasons to be excited about games on Xbox.
Call of the Sea is a first-person adventure game that puts environmental storytelling and engaging puzzles at the forefront. Right off the bat this game faces the threat of being branded a walking simulator. Sit through this adventure though and you will find that it is so much more than that. You play as Norah Everhart, a woman with a mysterious illness, who finds herself searching for her husband. The search leads you to a tropical land where your husband had ventured on an expedition to find a cure. The setup is intriguing enough to pique one’s interest and the game manages to keep the sense of intrigue alive throughout its run time. This is achieved by polishing the three main elements of the game to a mirror sheen. The setting, gameplay and story. Each of these elements are meshed intricately through stunning visuals, excellent puzzles and strong voice acting.
As good as the puzzle design and story is, the real star of game in my eyes has got to be the Island itself. The game’s art and sound deserve special mention for delivering environments that feel so lived in, despite the lack of inhabitants through the majority of the game’s run time. There is a sense of atmosphere that immediately captivates you and has you moving towards the next nugget of gameplay only to see what awaits in the next area. Despite its cartoonish, somewhat cell shade visuals, the world here is effortlessly immersive. Throw in story elements and puzzles that feed off of this world and you have a game where every little aspect works in tandem resulting in a tight yet fantastic experience.
Well, almost. The game isn’t without its issues. There is a fair bit of trial and error with a few puzzles. A lot more than one would be comfortable with. These are moments where the games feels like it has slammed on the breaks. Thankfully though, solving every sizeable puzzle usually, if not always, feels rewarding as the game finds ways to keep the player motivated through story progression, and then another interesting puzzle which is nothing like the last one. The game also offers tools for the player to overcome hurdles, should they choose to invest time reading through the various notes around the world, and Norah’s journal. There is a constant sense of progression every time a puzzle is solved. The story, which explores some heavy themes and isn’t afraid to take some dark turns, is unveiled with a steady bread crumb trail leading up to one of its endings based on your choices.
Call of the sea is a short and engaging game that deserves to be played by anyone who likes a good story. My journey in the shoes of Norah took me to various areas of a world which was breath-taking and sometimes nerve racking. The game makes the best of every element it has to offer, resulting in a must play experience. Call of the Sea is currently on Game pass and if you have about 6-ish hours to spare, you have no excuse to skip this game.