Be­yond The Sea

This week, Ryan checks out the ethe­real ex­plo­ration game Sea Of Soli­tude, and looks ahead to next year’s Star Wars: Bat­tle­front 2...

Micro Mart - - Specialists -

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We may be more used to slay­ing mon­sters than be­friend­ing them in our games, but then again, there’s much that’s en­thrallingly dif­fer­ent about Sea Of Soli­tude, the forth­com­ing ex­plore-em-up from Ber­lin­based Jo-Mei Games. It’s a sin­gle-player ad­ven­ture that takes place in a sub­merged fan­tasy world that looks more like a wa­ter­colour than a typ­i­cal sand­box game; if you’ve played ThatGameCom­pany’s ab­sorb­ing PlayS­ta­tion 3 ti­tle Jour­ney, you’ll recog­nise the soft-fo­cus, dream­like at­mos­phere Jo-Mei has man­aged to cre­ate.

The game’s pro­tag­o­nist is Kay, a young girl who sails around a seem­ingly de­serted sunken me­trop­o­lis. Ac­cord­ing to Jo-Mei’s creative head Cor­nelia Gep­pert, Kay’s lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion is wont to turn her into a mon­ster; “The story is about find­ing out what hap­pened to her,” Gep­pert says, “and work­ing out how to turn her back into a hu­man be­ing.”

As Kay tra­verses the world in her lit­tle boat, she’ll en­counter other mon­sters: one looks like a huge black whale; an­other re­sem­bles a giant bird of prey, perched men­ac­ingly on the re­mains of a build­ing jut­ting out of the sea. Each one of these mon­sters, Gep­pert con­tin­ues, was once a hu­man, too: they’re also suf­fer­ing from dif­fer­ent kinds of lone­li­ness. Kate's – and the player’s – task is to progress the story by find­ing out what hap­pened to them, and how they can be re­turned to their hu­man form.

The pres­ence of Kate and her boat will change the weather sys­tems around each mon­ster, so if one of them’s sur­rounded by rain and fog, say, then Kate’s ap­proach will re­place it with rays of sun­shine. As prob­lems are solved and mon­sters are trans­formed, the wa­ter level will also drop, re­veal­ing a bit more of the city be­neath the waves.

Log­ging Off

It’s al­ready a beau­ti­ful-look­ing game, in­spired, Gep­pert says, by an af­fec­tion for Ja­panese cul­ture: Kon­ami’s clas­sic Silent Hill se­ries, and the med­i­ta­tive an­i­ma­tion of Stu­dio Ghi­bli and its leg­endary film­maker, Hayao Miyazaki. Plenty of artists and de­sign­ers in the west have been in­spired by those very things, but we can’t think of an­other game that puts Miyazaki and Silent Hill to­gether; the re­sult is a gen­tle fan­tasy with streaks of in­ten­sity and fore­bod­ing.

At this early stage, we can’t speak for the game’s me­chan­ics - there are puz­zles and ac­tion, we’re told, but we don’t yet know how they’ll pan out - but in terms of de­sign and sub­ject mat­ter, Sea Of Soli­tude cer­tainly looks unique. “When hu­man be­ings get too lonely," When Mi­cro Mart first went on sale in 1985, it was the year of Su­per Mario, Gaunt­let, Gra­dius, the Com­modore Amiga and Atari 520ST. The mag­a­zine's rid­den the crest of change for the past 31 years, and now, re­gret­tably, it's time to sign off. Thanks to ev­ery­one at Mi­cro Mart for let­ting me write these gam­ing pages for so long, and thanks es­pe­cially to you, gen­tle read­ers, for join­ing us on our odyssey through 31 years of tech, gam­ing and strange pe­riph­er­als. It's been an hon­our.

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