By: Jeff Cater
Developers Eastasiasoft have dropped us off, well, more like crashed us into a tropical island and stranded us there. In Lost Sea, you’ll select a survivor and guide them through the perilous, procedurally generated jungles and beaches of the Bermuda Triangle. Or you’ll die and restart from the beginning!
Simply put, Lost Sea handles flawlessly. The melee combat (governed by the all-powerful square button) is pretty basic and mostly relies on dodging blows with the left stick while slipping in attacks when you can. As your adventure progresses, you’ll accrue enough treasure to upgrade your survivor and give them new abilities, like sprinting with R2.
You can freely rotate the camera to get a better angle on things with the right stick as well, but true examination of the world often requires use of the map, which is accessible by pressing the touch pad.
The isles of the Bermuda Triangle are lush and green, and they tend to get a bit crazy later on in the game. One moment you’ll be slashing through flora in the jungle, and the next you might be kicking around a spooky, purple-hued graveyard or a chilly ice island. The procedural generation used to build the levels is quite nice, as all the set pieces come together extremely well.
Sometimes you can look at a game that uses procedural generation and immediately know it, but Lost Sea is not one of them. The enemy inhabitants of the islands also vary nicely, but mostly only visually because many of the same combat patterns can be used to be rid of them.
If you like hang drums or maracas (or both simultaneously) you’re in luck because the soundtrack of Lost Sea is filled with them. Sadly, it never really strays from that style, creating an overwhelming sense that you’re trapped in a children’s YouTube video. It might just be me, but it was pretty hard to enjoy after only a short while.
This is where it counts, people. Survival being priority one, priority two is to look for other survivors and get off the island. Throughout the generated levels, you’ll run across other castaways that all possess skills that can be utilized to maximize treasure and experience gains while exploring.
For example, the first NPC crew member I encountered turned out to be a guy that greatly enhanced my melee attack damage while also granting more experience per-kill. Another was a carpenter that was able to build a bridge to a previously inaccessible treasure chest.
Whoever ends up following you, no matter their skill, will be doing their share of work. Throughout each level, there are large, golden tablets to discover. These act as your tickets off of the island, and pay for your journey to the next.
Once a stage is completed, a world map is shown with a linear path with islands dotted along the way. Say you collected four tablets in the last stage, that now means you can move four islands away and get closer to the boss levels.
As you collect treasure, you’re able to buy upgrades for your hero and your “ship.” Hero upgrades will grant new skills, while ship upgrades might up the number of your followers. Later in the game, having more than one crew member is an absolute godsend because you’ll be able to have them carry the Mayan-looking tablets back to the ship while you defend them, as they cannot attack at all. They can also die permanently (and so can you), so you’ll need to be smart.
My one real complaint with this game is that the way you access your map completely kills the pacing of the game. I’m not sure why they opted for putting a map on a separate screen, requiring a button press, rather than simply having a mini-map off to the side — maybe where that gigantic, mostly useless compass is.
That and it’s easy to forget what information the map contained when you have to regain your bearings every time you look at it, which also brings up another slightly small complaint I have: it just seems like you cannot see enough. The game’s zoom simply feels a bit too claustrophobic and just strains that map issue further.
Lost Sea has a few issues that hold the game back from true greatness, but they’re rather easy to get past if you give the game a chance. The exploration of the generated levels is fun and the combat is simple; even if the soundtrack has a bit too much marimba.