Call of the Sea is an otherworldly tale of mystery and love set in the 1930s South Pacific. Explore a lush island paradise, solve puzzles and unlock secrets in the hunt for your husband’s missing expedition.
Publisher: Raw Fury
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Also available for: Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC
Cast: Cissy Jones, Yuri Lowenthal
Developer: Out of the Blue
Creative Direction: Tatiana Delgado Yunquera
Writing: Alfredo Gonzalez-Barros Camba
Production, Programming: Manuel Fernandez-Truchaud Lorenzo
Art Direction: Daniel Nombela Lopez
Game Design: Alvaro Gonzalez Perez, Alfredo Gonzalez-Barros Camba
Encompassing mind-bending but well-thought puzzles, Call of the Sea is a story and world heavily inspired by H.P Lovecraft and his Cthulu monsters. Similar to the Myst series, it’s the setting and connective tissue through the world and puzzles that’ll keep you hooked and will have you up late at night promising you’ll go to sleep after you solve the next puzzle.
It’s 1934, and you play as Norah, who has crossed half the world in search of her husband, Harry who’s gone missing on an expedition. Harry had left in search of a cure for Norah who’s afflicted with an uncharacterised disease that has caused black dots to start appearing on her hands. It’s now Norah who’s doing the rescuing as she steps foot on a seemingly abandoned island in search of her husband or any clues he may have left behind.
The Lovecraft influences run deep within Call of the Sea, but this isn’t a horror game. This is a love story. In fact Call of the Sea reminded me of Guellmiro Del Toro’s almost dream-like state he presents with Shape of Water. The island in Call of the Sea is always tempering with mystery, and at times it feels like something may be watching you from the sea, but you won’t be running away from monsters in this game.
There are six chapters in Call of the Sea. Puzzles start easy enough as you land on the sunny beach, but they grow in scope as the game progresses. When you reach the third chapter, you’re exploring mysterious caves and inside of a washed-up ship. In my favourite puzzle in the game, you have to combine mini-puzzles, coded elements and study the moon all to play the right notes on an organ built into the side of the island.
Most of the puzzles in Call of the Sea share a connective tissue in either symbolism or language. So even though the puzzles themselves are entirely different in each chapter, you’re slowly learning the way the game wants you to think and look at the puzzles in Call of the Sea in order the solve them. A couple had me stumped for a solid thirty minutes or longer, but the solutions never feel out of your ability. If you can’t solve a puzzle, you may have missed a clue. The game has a friendly onboarding of important information. As you look at murals on cave walls or read scribbled up notes left by Harry or one of his party, Norah will make a note of the critical stuff and write or draw the essential things into her journal.
With all of that said, there was one puzzle I solved where I didn’t fully understand the final solution. I kind of just stumbled upon the right combination, which was nice, as I had been stuck for some time on that puzzle. But I’m still bothered I don’t understand the theory behind what solved the puzzle. It can also become slightly tedious in some chapters as you spend a lot of time walking back and forwards in the larger biomes. Chapter 3, for instance, as much as I love its puzzles, is a big chapter between the boat and caves and Norah strolls at a slow pace.