Mental health is a difficult subject to tackle in games
Mental health is a tough situation to tackle in games. Achieving a tactful balance between recreation mechanics and hard themes requires insight, however it is able to make for a rewarding revel in while the two intertwine in meaningful ways. Titles like Celeste and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice illustrate this, and Sea of Solitude boldly plunges into similar challenge matter; its international is as stunning as it is despair, with several characters beginning up about how their lives are ravaged by way of mental health.
Sea of Solitude casts you as Kay, a young girl whose loneliness has transformed her into a literal monster. She navigates a partially submerged metropolis, with blurry memories of a human beyond. Soon she unearths out she’s no longer by myself on this world, and he or she starts offevolved a quest of self-discovery wherein she tries to proper preceding wrongs via supporting her circle of relatives (who’ve also end up beasts) locate peace. Sea of Solitude introduces an interesting premise with darkness hiding under the floor, and it largely succeeds regardless of occasional hiccups.
You spend a while travelling with the aid of foot and through boat, platforming over roofs and via cityscapes, avoiding dangers, and tasty with whatever grandiose monster – like a huge, worry-inspiring crow – lurks in the area. I changed into always keen to see what the following beast awaited me would be, and the way the sector might alternate to reflect it, including sundown skies and vicious waves while Kay’s parents bicker at each other.
Kay has a personal reference to each beast, whether that’s a reflection of a familiar darkness within herself or an embodiment of a tortured member of the family, which brings a captivating depth to enemy encounters. I empathized with each most important foe, and never wanted to harm them. Luckily, I in no way had to. Boss battles in Sea of Solitude aren’t conventional fights; instead of defeating enemies, you assist them triumph over problems by clearing corruption, which increases Kay’s know-how in their problems and allows the ones in pain see really, including two characters knowing its pleasant to give up a courting that is dead within the water. It’s a clever approach that succeeds in using empathy in the participant, too.
Clearing corruption is your main goal in Sea of Solitude. Corruption points appear as glowing orbs with clouds of black smoke twirling around them. To eradicate these, you collect other smaller orbs by platforming around the area and doing light puzzle solving. You have a flare you can shoot into the air that helpfully guides you to your next objective, but it’s also your one and only weapon. Light defeats shadow enemies; sometimes you have to kill them before moving on or, as the gameplay evolves, turn them into allies so they can jump upon ledges you can’t reach to grab orbs for you. Fighting or manipulating enemies is a lackluster experience since it doesn’t require much strategy, and I preferred platforming moments that are intertwined with voiceovers that give insight into what happened to Kay’s family.
Puzzles, like defeating shadow creatures, are shallow. For example, you can trick enemies into chasing you to lead them away from a door you wish to enter. But the easy puzzles never bothered me much, since smooth progression allows the story to continue uninterrupted – and narrative is Sea of Solitude’s strength.
Characters have depth, and you learn more about Kay and others when clearing corruption. Problems are rooted in mental health, such as Kay’s boyfriend who is in a deep pit of depression and another sequence about a young boy being bullied. Most of these moments feel genuine, but I found the brief bullying storyline clumsy, especially when it delved into suicidal ideation in a sloppy way. Other times I took issue with stilted and awkward dialogue or when deeply personal themes were rushed.
However, some moments shine when the game lets its world speak for itself; I enjoyed seeing characters coming to grip with their reality on their own and how both the weather and aesthetic changed to emphasize these feelings. I love how the city becomes chilled and blanketed in snow when exploring the topic of a broken romantic relationship, or how a building with vents that spew steam fittingly reflects a father’s overwhelming anger.
Weather plays a significant role during exploration, with rainfall warning you of danger and sunny skies signaling safety. It’s a simple system that works well to inform the player when to brace for horrors, and there is a surprising amount of fright. A fish monster swims in the dark waters and if it catches you it violently tears you apart with its sharp teeth. Murky seas occasionally have ghostly hands that emerge from the depths that drown Kay if she touches them. All of this feels all the more terrifying because of Sea of Solitude’s barren world.
While an empty world is often seen as a terrible in games, it feels appropriate right here not just for the effective horror elements, but also because it displays Kay’s emotions and adds intrigue to the mystery. I saved questioning how Kay ended up by myself and why monsters are the simplest residing beings left. Answers to those questions aren’t continually surpassed to you, but I loved looking to piece collectively bits myself via my own interpretations and messages left behind in bottles.
Sea of Solitude presents an insightful study how intellectual fitness devastates the lives of no longer simply those it impacts, but additionally cherished ones on the outdoor. Kay learns lots approximately herself by information the fee of listening, coming to term with her flaws, and no longer simply empathizing with family however also accepting that a easy restoration isn’t always possible.