Tag Archives: The Sea Will Claim Everything

2016 Game Review Haiku, #29 – The Book of Living Magic

2016 gd games completed the book of living magic

Raven Locks Smith makes
Her way to Oddness Standing
Find book, eyeball plants

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

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2016 Game Review Haiku, #27 – The Sea Will Claim Everything

2016 gd games completed tswce steam

Everyone needs help
In the Lands of Dream, just read
Click all clicky things

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

So many mushrooms to click on in The Sea Will Claim Everything

the sea will claim everything island

Sometimes I just want to read. Other times, I want to play, or, more to the point, interact. With people and animals and things. Cause and reaction is what I’m looking for, but the safe, casual kind. Don’t shoot me in the stomach and force me to find medicine to stop the bleeding. Instead, let me find some fish food for a hungry fishie that will make it smile. Well, after a panic-inducing, unpredictable weekend, I wanted to do both: read and interact harmlessly. Thankfully, there’s The Sea Will Claim Everything, a game which I’ve danced around revisiting lately. Well, the straw that finally broke the camel’s back is that it has now been released on Steam, and Jonas Kyratzes was kind enough to provide me with a free key since I already purchased the game back in 2012 from the Bundle in a Box promotion.

Allow me to quickly summarize what’s going on in The Sea Will Claim Everything. If I can, that is. You visit the Lands of Dream through a special window which allows you, the person reading this and playing the game, to see, travel, and interact with the various strange and fantastical elements of the Fortunate Isles. You begin in the Underhome, a biotechnological house unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Unfortunately, Underhome has been badly damaged by goons threatening to foreclose on it; they are so rude that they even cut up a nice rug. Your job is to help The Mysterious-Druid, who likes to simply be called The, get Underhome back to its healthy former self. However, along the way, you’ll end up on a larger quest to free the citizens of the Fortunate Isles from Lord Urizen’s political and economic oppression.

Strangely, when it comes to me and point-and-click adventure games, it’s always about getting to the next scene to see where things go. Brute-forcing through the puzzles to see what new characters pop up and grab more items for my ever-growing inventory. However, with The Sea Will Claim Everything and other works in the Lands of Dream, I prefer to linger, to absorb. Every screen is packed with flavor and things to click on, with my personal favorite being all the little mushrooms sprouting up in the Underhome. Verena Kyratzes’ artwork is colorful and pleasant, perfect for a storybook-like tale, and you should not take anything for granted–each individual flower has its own flavor text, as does every book and drawer and item at a merchant’s stall. Also, there’s evidently 700 collectibles to gather, so click, click, click.

Gameplay is mostly clicking and reading, and it doesn’t take long to realize that The Sea Will Claim Everything is roughly just fetch quest after fetch quest after fetch quest. Occasionally, you’ll have to find a recipe and create the item someone needs instead of simply finding it elsewhere in the world and bringing it back. I’m okay with fetch quests, as sometimes it is all I want, but I do wish that the quest log, represented as a single-page scroll, did a better job of showing your progress. For example, I need to make a special soup that will help heal the Underhome, and this requires gathering a number of items, but the quest log doesn’t show what I have and don’t have; instead, I need to pop back into my inventory, scan the list, and then figure out what is missing. Also, with so many people and strange names, it’d be helpful to list where the person is in the quest so that I can turn it in without having to scan every single screen in Port Darragh over and over again.

Since you’ll be doing a lot of sitting on a single screen/area and reading flavor text, dialogue text, recipe text, and dialogue text, a good soundtrack is a must. The music needs to not overpower your brain and get in way of the nifty characters and stories, but at the same time ground everything together, enhance it. Make you believe that this talking spider is part of the world. That this town of anthropomorphic creatures live lives and exist beyond your window view. I’m happy to report that Chris Christodoulou’s soundtrack is nearly perfect. Inspiring and mystifying, the songs fit the adventure. I do wish some were a little longer or looped more instead of repeating after a two minutes or so, especially when you are in a room for longer than that. I think my favorite is the piano-driven, calming “Plingpling Fairydust,” but the dark, beyond unnerving “Swamp Thing” is also quite special…for reasons.

The Sea Will Claim Everything is really the most charming oddball, and I’m looking forward to helping everyone I can on the Fortunate Isles, whether it is by solving a mysterious murder or giving them a cookie. It just might take a few more sessions. That’s okay. Those mushrooms aren’t going anywhere.

The Fabulous Screech will make you click and feel emotions

gd the fabulous screech final impressions

The Sea Will Claim Everything is a game I think about now and then, a game which I haven’t really touched in about four years. That said, I think about it like this: starting over, falling into it once more, eyes wide and absorbing, my brain ready for an overload of story and characters and rich lore. The amount of detail that Jonas Kyratzes imagined up for this world, these Lands of Dream, staggers me still, as does the inviting, storybook artwork by Verena Kyratzes. Together, these two create portals, doors that open and close, but take you far away from where you started. I don’t know if I’m ready yet to give The Sea Will Claim Everything another go–I believe I walked away from it feeling somewhat overwhelmed–but I continue to build up brain space for when that day comes.

In the meantime, there’s The Fabulous Screech, which is a smaller, more contained bit of whimsical fantasy and storytelling. No, it’s not about everyone’s less-than-loved Saved by the Bell nerd-for-brains. The jaunty plot is that your partner bought you a ticket for the season’s last performance by The Fabulous Screech and His Trained Humans. You travel to the town of Oddness Standing to see this unique show and learn how The Fabulous Screech lived its life. Interestingly, this game came to fruition as a Christmas gift for someone’s boyfriend when times were tough and funds were short, and the Kyratzes duo ended up making it more personal than originally intended. This is why you’ll click and feel emotions.

Gameplay is minimal and easy, but that’s okay. This is more of an interactive story, and there’s so much to interact with, to click on and read, that dealing with solving complicated puzzles for getting you from point A to point B would have messed up with the laid-back pacing and gentleness blanketing everything here. At most, you have to find an item for a character, and there’s only so many places you can search, so you’ll eventually find it and move ahead. All this captivating reading and visuals are backed by a soothing soundtrack that works when things are bouncy and childish at the theater’s curtains to the darker moments of dread and frailty by the end. Also, and I had this problem in The Sea Will Claim Everything so I suspect I need to learn to live with it, I’m still not a fan of the common-day references everywhere, such as to the Sierra or T.S. Eliot, but I guess that’s what helps make these lands dream-like. That blurring of fantasy and the real world.

The life–and presumably death–of The Fabulous Screech in The Fabulous Screech is anything but straightforward. There’s whimsy and silliness, but also a good amount of stark reality and sadness. Look, aging is unstoppable. That’s a hard fact. Time passes by with every second, and it’s up to us to make the best of things, to find happiness and be happy. I try not to think about my furry pets dying, but I know they will some day, and that debilitating fear makes it difficult to even write about this stuff. Sure, Timmy can be a psychopath and bully, but also a lap warmer and affectionate friend. Pixie can shed like there’s no tomorrow and get her claws stuck in everything, but she also headbutts me hello whenever she can. They are special to me.

Okay, that’s all I can do. Gonna go hug both of my kitty cats now and hope that, at least in their feline eyes, I’m a well-trained human.

The highs and lows of Telltale’s The Walking Dead

telltale the walking dead thoughts so far

At this point, having completed four out of five episodes for season one of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, I know exactly what I like about it and exactly what is not working. It’s a shame there’s some good and bad here, as the good has the potential to outshine the bad, but then the bad is just so disappointing that it could bury the good. Yeah, that was totally clear writing.

I like adventure games, especially the point and click ilk. Please note that I didn’t say love, as I’ve really only fully experienced a few, such as Wadjet Eye’s The Blackwell Legacy series, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, The Sea Will Claim Everything, and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, but I had a pretty good time with those. In the past, I’ve tried playing games like Hector: Badge of Carnage, Machinarium, and Beneath a Steel Sky only to get stuck and give up in  obvious frustration. The things I often like in adventure games are the stories and the ability to click on lots of things for fun (or even bland) descriptions, and the parts I often find unwieldy are inventory management, obscure puzzles, and pixel hunting. The Walking Dead does a lot of great story work, but is hampered by none of the previous things mentioned, rather modern day quirks that really take it down a notch. Let’s start with the bad, then the good.

To begin with, the Achievements. Yes, they are meaningless things, but their inclusion in The Walking Dead is so noticeable that they have to be accounted for. Some have funny titles, often silly or referencing pop culture or even snide, especially based on the group’s current situation. The Walking Dead is not a very funny game, though there are the occasional moments or quips, but the premise itself is rather bleak, and seeing how episode four ended, it’s only gonna get darker. So earning Achievements with names like “You Fight Like a Dairy Farmer” and “Too Much Salt Will Kill You” right when emotional moments are trying to sink in is a bit like losing a loved one and then getting slammed in the face with a custard pie. Again, in the end, the Achievements are completely meaningless, it’s just that they are quite invasive when one is immersed in a world overrun by zombies.

The next problem I have might only be related to the Xbox 360, but I don’t know. It could be on other platforms, and it has to do with loading screens. They come up at the worst time, with the worst transitions to them. It’s just a simple cut away to a boring screen that says NOW LOADING… on it. For instance, near the beginning of episode four, Lee is climbing a ladder in a house to see what’s up in the attic. You actually control Lee as he climbs the steps, one by one, music swelling, the promise of something major soon to be revealed. You get to the top step and…loading screen. This is just one example, but the pacing and tone is often knocked aside on most of the loading screens as they often happen during large moments. I dunno, just like with the Achievements, they really took me out of a great gaming adventure.

Lastly, and don’t worry, I’ll get to some good stuff shortly, when you fail an action scene, more often than not, Lee dies and you reset to the start of the action. For me, this was particularly jarring. These moments where you have to shoot a zombie in a particular spot within three seconds are disappointing in that you are just thrown into it with no guidance and will most likely lose the first time. After you fail that first time, then the game tells you what you’re supposed to do. Gee, thanks. In episode two, at the motel, you used the four-pronged cursor to highlight enemies and shoot with the A button, but this time around they switched to a more traditional RT shooting convention; either way, these moments are not the greatest and seem ham-fisted for gamers that want more out of their puzzle games. I could do without, personally.

So those are the things about The Walking Dead I’m not digging. Otherwise, wow. The story is riveting, and each character comes across fully realized from the word go, making every choice a struggle, whether it’s simply a line of dialogue or a heart-breaking decision. Or, in the case of Ben, an easy one. The timer on dialogue options is a wonderful motivator, and my Lee is the kind of guy that cares deeply about Clementine and tries to keep the group happy; at first, he worked hard for Kenny’s respect, but now that matters no more. I understand that a lot of the finer plot points can’t be changed, but the small interactions between characters and the relationships you construct are where this game shines. I do play with the notifications turned on, something I’ve seen others suggest turning off, as they can potentially negatively future decisions. So far, I’m okay with them.

I will most likely be finishing up episode five tonight or this weekend, and I don’t expect any new gameplay twists to really shake up the formula. Hopefully it’s all story to the end, but I’m sure I’ll have to stumble my way through an action scene or two before the credits roll. Regardless, I’ve been pretty impressed with the effect The Walking Dead has had on me, even with a few problems. I’ll definitely be playing season two as it comes out, episode by episode, whenever that is, ready to make some choices.

The Sea Will Claim Everything in its first hour of clicking

My dream goal would be to cover all the games that came grouped in Bundle in a Box‘s first package for The First Hour, but my time and sanity are running lower and lower with each new day in June that comes to pass. It really is amazing that I’m typing these words here at Grinding Down at all. If anything, I’m happy to report I played an hour (and then some more) of The Sea Will Claim Everything, a unique-looking point-and-click adventure game set in the fantastical realm known as the Lands of Dreams. Click that previously linked sentence to see how the sixty minutes went.

The sad news is that I dragged my feet with this review and the bundle is now over; The Sea Will Claim Everything will not be available for a little bit until Jonas Kyratzes can set up a webshop. So, if you are interested in it and didn’t purchase a bundle, you’ll have to now wait. Sorry, little dreamers.

But stay tuned, as I am going to continue to play The Sea Will Claim Everything and will let you know how it all turns out.

Today’s the day you can open that Bundle in a Box

A few weeks ago, I swore off indie game bundles. Not entirely, but certainly for that bubble of time, as a bunch of game-touting bundles had come out all at once, as if some madman in his madman fortresses, after drinking way too much madman juice, decided to release every rabid hound he had on the poor villagers down below and laugh wildly as he reaped the benefits. Yeah, I’m sure that doesn’t really convey what I want to convey, but basically it felt like too much in too little of a time.

That said, I knew in my heart of hearts that I’d come back, and that would basically happen with the mysteriously Bundle in a Box, a package steeped in slow-revealing secrecy, but sounding of supreme promise, as it did announce that its first package was going to be themed, and that theme, ladies and gents, was to be point-and-click adventure games. Yes, the revolution is in full kick.

Anyways, Bundle in a Box‘s first bundle includes the following: The Sea Will Claim EverythingGemini RueMetal DeadThe ShivahBen There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please! and–for the first time ever–the downloadable version of 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery text-adventure, which was previously only available as a physical product. That’s some good stuff there, and I’m particularly stoked to see two products from Wadget Eye Games, as I absolutely loved the Blackwell titles to death, pun totally intended. I’ve actually had access to a few of these above titles, but never through Steam, and if there’s something I can appreciate, it’s having all my games in one tidy list, ready for launching.

Bundle in a Box is also doing things a little different than what consumers might have already experienced through events from Humble Indie Bundle and Indie Royal. There’s a constantly decreasing minimal price and bonuses like soundtracks and “making of” ebooks are unlocked after a specific amount of bundles are sold. Money goes towards two fantastic charities: The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family and The Indie Dev Grant.

So go forth, adventurers: http://bundle-in-a-box.com/

It’s the first click of many great clicks to come.