Sea of ​​Solitude: Directors Cut of the adventure for Switch in the test

Sea of ​​Solitude: Directors Cut of the adventure for Switch in the test

Sea of ​​Solitude

Since its original release in summer 2019, the action adventure Sea of ​​Solitude has come up again and again when it comes to games that deal with mental health. Depression, fears and the demons of one's own past - the game tells a very personal story and also includes Creative Director Cornelia Geppert's own experiences, which were used as inspiration for Kay, the black feathered main character.

Table of contents

1 Introspection 2 Psyche in distress 3 Making the invisible visible And despite the noble intention of the game, its messages were often described as "conveyed with a mallet" in the original version of the game. A point of criticism that also left its mark on the Berlin developer studio Jo-Mei Games, which is why a revised version of Sea of ​​Solitude has now been created exclusively for Nintendo Switch. A director's cut with new speakers, new cutscenes and a revised script.

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Especially at the beginning of the game you will be followed by a vicious sea serpent in the flooded city. Here you have to get from roofs to protected light sources at the right moment. Source: PC Games Sea of ​​Solitude tells its story fragmentarily, at least in relation to the game world and the reason for your trip. You wake up on your motorized wooden boat on a stormy sea when a flying girl in a yellow raincoat greets you cheerfully and lights the lantern on your boat. In the dark depths below you swim a black creature that Kay has apparently been pursuing for a long time. The cornerstones of storytelling in Sea of ​​Solitude are already clear in this prologue: Kay tells you impressions from her inner life, the rest is done by the environment and the design of the other characters. Since Kay has visual parallels to the red-eyed, feathered monsters, it quickly becomes clear that they must be cut from the same cloth, or that the creatures are supposed to depict aspects of Kay. Finally, the girl in the raincoat represents the lively counterpart to the withdrawn, melancholy main character and introduces you to the simple gameplay of Sea of ​​Solitude.

Moses in Berlin: Ebb and flow are central elements of the game world design and always provide pretty scenarios. Source: PC Games You explore the flooded city, which is based on Berlin, from a third-person perspective, always looking for snippets from Kay's past that appear in the form of black, smoking flares. As long as you stay in the sunny light radius of your boat, the monster residing in the respective section cannot harm you. Most of your journey, however, will be sent on foot through the rubble landscape, for example to open gates or explore buildings. If you get lost in the relatively varied environment, you shoot a flare from your hand, which shows you the way to the next point of interest. Since the water monster from the prologue is ambushing you for large parts of the game, you shouldn't fall into the sea as long as the weather is stormy!

In the dark, dilapidated school, the tormentors of Kay's brother Sunny are chasing you. You have to lure them away from passages and fragments of darkness. Source: PC Games Then you have to jump between the rooftops and buoys, keep an eye on the vicious sea snake and only dive into the cool water at the right moment. Sea of ​​Solitude (buy now € 29.99 / € 18.99) seldom demands a lot more from you than moving from A to B via unspectacular jump & run courses and using a flare to locate the next story fragment, puzzles exist practically not and in the event of a premature death you simply wake up again on the last secure platform. Later sections confront you with smaller opponents, which you should lure away from important points or send you on detours that are not immediately apparent, but the playful content of Sea of ​​Solitude is consistently fairly undemanding in Sea of ​​Solitude look badly pressed on the eye. Fewer details here would have made it easier to identify with Kay's story. Source: PC Games

Psyche in distress

Why didn't you say anything? A question that the relatives of mentally ailing people probably haunted in the head. Kay torments herself with complicity in her brother's problems. Source: PC Games The claim in Sea of ​​Solitude is less in the gameplay than in the complex, important and difficult to convey topics that the game wants to attack. Kay is a young woman who is plagued by various psychological problems that you should now face in her metaphorical emotional world. Not only are the sections of the game world thematically based on individual key moments in their lives, the mostly hostile residents also come from earlier, unprocessed crisis situations. One of the first sections, for example, leads you through a dilapidated school building, in which you repeatedly come across a large, black bird. After a few forays through classrooms and gyms, accompanied by teasing your brother Sunny and his cries for help, the bird finally lets you get closer to him.

It turns out to be Kay's manifested feeling of guilt because she does not bully her brother took it seriously enough and was therefore on his own. In a kind of boss fight you then collect fragments of darkness in your backpack until the memory is erased and Kay can deal with the situation. This pattern repeats itself several times, from the broken relationship of the parents to Kay's partner, who himself gets into mental distress and is increasingly estranged from his girlfriend. Since the protagonist comments on every train of thought and every emotional situation, the story is not very subtle and now and then drifts off into the melodramatic.

Making the invisible visible

The confrontation with the inner demons stages this Play as set pieces that are always similarly knitted, in which you should expose and absorb fragments of darkness. Source: PC Games The fact that some of the scenarios in Sea of ​​Solitude hit the right nerve despite the inconsequential gameplay and the sometimes somewhat thick plot is due to their visual and acoustic presentation. Especially when it comes to the design of the monsters, the game scores with clever, haunting metaphors: Kay's fearful side is shown as an emaciated female figure in a shell-like armor, who repeatedly tries to warn her conscience. The depressed friend initially appears as a proud, white wolf with a brittle ice-fur, the parents' arguments take place in Kay's psyche in front of a red sky with fire and smoke.

This is not subtle either, but it is effective. At the beginning, lightning bolts flicker when the fear monster is present, towards the end of the game we loaded so many problems into our backpack that Kay's running animation looks visibly different - the developers have therefore made an effort to represent psychological processes in a believable way. Another big plus point is the great soundtrack, which successfully and subtly underlines threatening scenarios, while gentle piano and violin music invites you to linger as soon as the weather clears in Kay's psyche. The simple graphic style does not tear up any trees and the Switch version is reminiscent of the PS360 generation, textures are mostly monochrome surfaces and the optics are permanently slightly blurred.

In the shadow of the colossus: The monsters in Kay's psyche are grotesquely changed images of their fellow human beings and their worries. Source: PC Games Nevertheless, the game occasionally draws impressive and coherent images, for example when the giant black bird hovers over you and your surroundings are seamlessly transformed into a gray-brown apocalypse scenario with floating ash particles. You will encounter such sudden changes in the atmosphere several times during the course of the game - not just a graphic highlight, but a clever design to reflect the fluctuations in Kay's psyche! The German voice actors also do a good job, the protagonist in particular blends in perfectly with the sometimes depressing, sometimes bittersweet mood of Sea of ​​Solitude with her gentle, melancholy narrative.

Seafaring to new shores: The most beautiful moments in Sea You experience of Solitude after you have closed with an inner conflict. Source: PC Games Whether and how much you like the title depends largely on how much you can put yourself in Kay's position and whether you can identify with the topics. Viewed purely as a video game, Sea of ​​Solitude is quite short and playful, and technically average at best. As an attempt to digitally depict a state of mind that is difficult to understand and thus make it more accessible, Sea of ​​Solitude can certainly be described as successful, but the game does not achieve the quality and emotional impact of a Gris or Hellblade.

My Opinion

By Stefan Wilhelm

Author A creditable, but not entirely successful attempt Jo-Mei Games and Cornelia Geppert deserve great respect for such a personal, important and rather underrepresented in the gaming sector How to Address Mental Health Issue. Accordingly, it is difficult for me to give the game a comparatively low rating. Aspects of the game, such as the well-thought-out design of the characters, the bittersweet soundtrack and the mostly successful setting, or some poignant scenarios make the title an adventure that should be experienced - with messages that ensure the right person at the right moment can provide positive food for thought. Objectively and purely as a game, however, Sea of ​​Solitude is a rather shallow, technically imperfect and very short undertaking with about three hours. Sea of ​​Solitude (NSW) 6/10

Graphics - Sound - Multiplayer - Pros & Cons Some very successfully implemented, impressive scenarios Touching soundtrack Imaginative, well thought-out character design Fresh setting with an important message Playful shallow and monotonous story sometimes too thick Applied and melodramatic Blurred, faded optics with unstable frame rate With around three hours of very short playing time Hardly replay value, mostly unimportant collectables Occasional glitches and getting stuck in the game world More pros & cons ... Conclusion Playfully thin, not always successful in terms of content, but with its message and some haunting moments are still worth seeing - albeit at a lower price.

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