Lost Sea is like a beginners guide to adventure. Set on a series of islands you crashed onto as a victim of the curse surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, you search the landmasses on a mission to find the portal to take you back – because obviously when you land in paradise the first thing you want to do is go home.
Step one is to select which hero you want to play as. There’s a nice little collection of characters to choose from ranging from Sea Captains, Tribesmen, 1920’s gangsters to Damsels who’ll cause you distress. I felt like this may have been an important decision which would affect the gameplay (maybe some have better health or are stronger in battle?) but I quickly learnt that you can just pick whoever you think looks the coolest. I mean, who doesn’t want to run around an Island dressed like Bugsy Malone? We’ve become addicted to customising our characters for hours in most modern games, so why not choose a look for your adventure in the Bermuda Triangle?
With your explorer looking as badass (or not) as you want, the story begins and you wash up on the shore of a desert Island without a clue of what to do. Luckily, the first level is a nice, easy-to follow tutorial and to be honest, it’s really not that difficult to get to grips with. Run around with the left stick, move the camera with the right, and hack at anything with your machete with the Square button. There are a few extra additions later on, but as long as you’ve got the basics you’ll be fine. What I liked about beginning this game was there wasn’t any half hour intro video and any dialogue is kept short and sweet so you can get stuck straight into the action. Later on, though, I did feel like it could have done a little bit more to tell you what it was you were trying to achieve.
The comic-like styled visuals of the game make it comparable to a cartoon version of Uncharted – except instead of Nathan Drake, you’re Bugsy Malone – and instead of running around with pistols and grenades, you have a cartoon machete. Off I went, slashing away at bushes (some hold healing berries) and boxes (obviously this is where previous adventurers would hide their cash) and came across a man who told me to follow him. Sure, crash onto a desert island and trust the first person you bump into and let him lure you into his cave where he can tie you up, cook you over a fire and eat your brains under the moonlight. I guess I’ve played too many horror games – don’t worry, he’s not going to eat you (I think). He actually leads you around the tutorial and tells you the aims for each level. You need to explore each island to find treasure, keys to open certain gates (opening up new areas) and most importantly collect tablets which I guess have some sort of magical Triangle powers as you later use these to navigate to islands further along your path.
On your way, you’ll have to kill all sorts of enemies – the only problem I had with this are some of them were far too cute to consider putting my blade between their eyes, but if they attack first then they shall feel my wrath. Each enemy has its own unique attacks, some of them will just charge at you, others spit coconuts (at least I think they’re coconuts), and some slam the floor with their fists and create shockwaves to lower your health bar. You soon learn how to attack each type of foe – charge in with your sword swinging or hold back and wait for the right moment, although mostly you’ll just run around and bash the square button as quick as you can (remember to do your thumb exercises before playing this game to prevent serious injury).
There are also plenty of other stranded survivors in the archipelago and as you meet them you can recruit them to help you on your quest. I got very excited at this point thinking I would be building a village for me and my companions. Unfortunately, it’s not that kind of game. Instead, they’ll follow you around, cower in the corner as you battle the bad guys and always get in the way of your attacks. They do however have a few good uses, which is set out in their list of skills. Some are carpenters and will repair broken bridges for you to reach other parts of the island, others are locksmiths and can pick the locks of chests which hold (sometimes) useful items. My favourite skill is the ability to bring you back from the dead if you somehow manage to take too much damage. Also, if you get annoyed with them, feel free to hit them a few times – they’ll cry as though you’ve just kicked their kitten into the shark-infested waters, but they don’t seem to take any damage from you. It’s a nice form of entertainment and stress relief (please note, I do not condone violence, especially with a sharp edged blade).
What this game could use is a mini-map on screen at all times to help you navigate through the levels. Pressing the touchpad will bring up the entire map and point out places of interest (recruits, tablets, gates and treasure) but once the map is closed, it’s quite easy to end up running around in circles. It’s not the most detailed of games (not that it’s meant to be) and each map looks pretty much the same, with a few exceptions after you beat the bosses and move from jungles and deserts to icy-tundras or volcanic areas.
Let’s talk about the tablets. Once you’ve collected all of the tablets on the island, you can head back to the dock to level up your skills (you need to buy the ability to sprint ASAP or you’ll find the adventure very slow) and leave your current island. Each tablet has a randomly assigned number and this is the number of spaces you can progress. If you’re trying to play through as quickly as possible, always just jump straight to the furthest island along; if you want to play for the sake of it, take your time going through as many islands as possible. Remember, the end goal is to get to the final island, kill the boss and progress.
There’s only one major problem I found and it’s the fact there’s no option to save your game. If you only have a spare fifteen minutes, probably best if you don’t start a “quick game”. It’s only once you’ve defeated the bosses that you can “warp” to the next set of islands upon your return to the game.
Once you die in the game, you’re dead. But don’t worry, it’s not the end. You’re reincarnated and can start all over again – which sounds like it could get quite monotonous, but you do get a little bonus each time. Not only can you reselect which character you want to be (clearly, your last choice was useless … Bugsy got Cream-Pied) but for every tablet you collected, you’ll get gold and experience points to spend straight away on levelling up your skills. Being dead and starting over isn’t as painful as it sounds.
Lost Sea is exactly what it says on the box. If you’re looking for something simple and easy to pass the time but still has its fun challenges and becomes uncontrollably addictive (seriously, if you have work the next day, I’d call in sick because you won’t be going to bed before your morning alarm goes off,) this is worth a shot. I won’t pretend it’s the best game I’ve ever played, but it’s been an enjoyable adventure in this cute version of Lara Croft’s dreams. Adventure awaits.
Karl Rating 7/10