Review: Lost Sea (PS4)

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Title: Lost Sea
Format: PlayStation Network Download (542.2 MB)
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: eastasiasoft
Developer: eastasiasoft
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
Lost Sea is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Lost Sea wastes zero seconds getting directly into the game. There are no splash screens with pre-game credits. You say “START” to your camera, or press the Cross button, and you’re there.

No difficulty settings or other frills exist within the options menu. Just sound levels and vibration and controls. You may choose credits.

You pick your hero and you’re off on an adventure! An adventure where the islands you traverse and explore are procedurally generated. Your adventure will vary.

The hero choices are between male and female characters, all of whom are light-skinned. I wish there were more skin tones included. I thought when I made my choice of character the next screen would allow skin tone variations but the next thing I know the game has begun.

Kudos for female heroes. Unfortunately we will not be tasting the rainbow. I hope that’s the last time I type that in this review since eastasiasoft Limited brought us Rainbow Moon and soon Rainbow Skies.

A look at the HUD shows us our character health, compass, night/day cycle indicator, a ship, and an electric utility lamp.

… the ship acts as my base …
Apparently I have crash-landed on an island à la Amelia Earhart. I better do some ‘splorin’!
(HEY EDITOR! I choose to NOT say “Like Lost” because there is no six month hiatus after 4 levels.) (HEY REVIEWER! Between her and Hurley, I might just choose Hurley. Besides, she was snatched by aliens and ended up in the Delta Quadrant. But everybody knows that!)

I see why there is a ship on my HUD. It is part of the compass which in “game language” probably means that’s where I’m headed. I discover that the ship acts as my base.

As I look around with the right thumbstick it becomes obvious that my current view is top down and I can only see what amounts to about fifty feet in circumference around my purple-haired hero.

SIDEBAR
Why is it that in almost every game, when one sets the controller down for a moment, the character being controlled goes through a yawn animation complete with sound effects? I recognize there are variations to this behavior. But few. Occasionally Daxter will do some acrobatics on the PS Vita. This is the Wilhelm Scream of gaming. (HEY REVIEWER! Idle Animations… they rock.)

A few steps with the left thumbstick and you’ve acquired your first weapon. A machete! You will also acquire your first trophy named: CHOPPER! (HEY EDITOR! Did you ever see Eric Bana’s break-out film entitled Chopper? It’s bloody amazing, mate! Prior to that film Bana was a TV comedian in Australia. After that film he was an amazing international dramatic actor. The Hulk was Ang Lee’s fault, not his.) (HEY REVIEWER! This is the only Chopper I know. And I prefer my Hulks to be of a more Ruffalo or even Norton variety.)

Use your machete to cut through boxes, all boxes, which if any of you have been following me (and no one has) was a pet peeve of mine during one of my first game streams when unbreakable boxes were present. Shortly after that I used my rage to kill the lead singer of White Snake, if memory serves. Check the PS Nation archives if you dare. Happy browsing!

… lore from the 1970s …
Cutting through boxes and bushes and the like reward the player with cash money and XP.

You may find an area where you need a key to progress in a certain direction. So… go find the key! It’s a video game trope! What? Did you think this was Euker? (HEY REVIEWER! I always thought it was Euchre. Seems as though it can be both. I’ll let you slide on that one… but I’m watching…)

The first enemy I encountered I did not recognize as an enemy. You’ll figure it out as you go.

Oh wait. No spoiler, since it’s in the game’s description, but I am in the Bermuda Triangle. A fascinating old chestnut of lore from the 1970s when I was a kid, akin to Loch Ness and Bigfoot and UFOs! Everything old is new again, except me! (HEY REVIEWER! Leonard Nimoy yo!)

And we have a fetch quest! Gaming tropes are increasing. That said, so is the depth of gameplay. There is a crafting mechanic as well.

Suddenly we are embarking upon RPG land. I meet another character with talents which compliment mine. And I see I have a MANAGE CREW button in R1. Shall I recruit her? Well… yeah!

Over the course of the game you’ll recruit several types of crew members with various abilities you’ll need to progress or acquire loot and XP.

… the random difficulty of the islands …
The money you get may be turned in after delivering the appropriate number of tablets to your base. Tablets are the object of the game. You must find them all to progress and up your abilities.

Helping you locate the tablets on the map is your HUD’s electric lamp. It behaves as a kind of divining rod, leading you to your goal.

Progression is where the shadow of the roguelike comes in. If you die your character is dead. You’ll need to begin again with a different character. Your progress is sometimes remembered and sometimes it’s not. A further wrinkle is the random difficulty of the islands you move between. You might begin at the tutorial island but the next may be HARD difficulty followed by EASY. Maybe. It’s random.

The enemy types all have patterns to learn which will help you stay alive but with each new enemy you risk death, possibly a one-hit kill.

Sometimes a map will have a pretty, purple tree which replenishes health. Just don’t count on it being in every map.

What you will find in every map are collectibles! Trophies, yo!

TROPHIES
There is a Platinum. As of July 26, 2016 it is Ultra Rare with only 0.2% of players achieving it. Initially the Trophies come pretty quickly. The Plat is not easy. Another Gold Trophy called Tycoon is at 2.9% for achieving 10,000 gold. Suffice to say, only a hardcore gamer with time and guts can get the Platinum. It’s quite the achievement, no pun intended.

Visuals:
We’re in a cel-shaded world not dissimilar from the Viewtiful Joe games. The framerate, which appears to be 60 FPS, helps the game look amazing coupled with a rich color palate.

There are differing geographical attributes to the archipelagos you’ll encounter. Themes, if you will. Still themes if you won’t.

You’ll start tropical and after the boss on the last island of the first set you’ll go to another collection of islands which may have towns or snow or something else. No spoilers!

… hinting at the adventure to come …
Audio:
Strings, tomtoms, piano, upright bass, xylophone, flute begin the game’s score with appropriately Caribbean fusion jazz. While this music repeats, it never bores. It gives tone and location while hinting at the adventure to come. All this flavor in such a short piece of music! And that’s just the first piece.

The characters themselves do not speak. Their dialogue is read.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
I bought Rainbow Moon with my hard-earned ducats. It’s a beautifully realized game in every way.

An enormous amount of work and planning has gone into Lost Sea as it did into Rainbow Moon. I expected no less and I have not been disappointed. eastasiasoft Limited seems to be growing their RPG portfolio in new ways. I must also remark that they are doing it without enormous use of the Hard Drive footprint they require.

As committed gamers we often use large amounts of space on our hard drives. Lost Sea delivers beautiful graphics and music coupled with engaging gameplay at little more than half of one gigabyte in storage space. No bloat. For an RPG, this is worth celebrating.

The downside is the repetitive nature of a procedurally generated roguelike. An oxymoron for sure, but true nonetheless. Since each archipelago has the same climate and similar attributes, the islands blend into one another creating a pretty but eventually bland environment. After a few hours it can become a bit boring.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

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