I’ve deleted and restarted this first paragraph about ten times while I think of a way to begin and describe Lost Sea. Featuring permadeath and procedurally generated areas, it’s an isometric action adventure game where you’re collecting tablets to make it across to the next island before facing the area’s boss. There are a lot of ideas thrown into the mix and it does manage to pull off some of them. Just not all.

Stranded in the Bermuda Triangle, your chosen character has to explore each procedurally generated island collecting resources in order to make it to the next island and so on until completion. There is a little base area where you can trade either your coins for ship upgrades or the experience you get from killing enemies for player upgrades. The ship upgrades are the only thing that carries over upon death.

With 4 areas to beat, each with a good number of islands and ending in a boss fight, I comfortably made it up to the third area before the challenge became too much and I succumbed to the island monsters. When this happens, you can warp to the beginning of each new area when you start a new game, but quite frankly that’s ill-advised as you really need to start at the beginning to rebuild your character from scratch. Increasing your health, sprint and item slots is crucial. And for the first couple of times (thanks to the game’s length) I didn’t mind going back and starting again because it was enjoyable to do so. I just wish there was more variety in the environments and monsters.

These Viking-looking guys have the same attacks as the Yeti or Bigfoot types. There’s a disappointing lack of variety in Lost Sea.

Essentially when you make it to each new area, the environments and monsters are just reskinned versions of what came before. So what in the jungle areas would be Bigfoot-type creatures just become Yetis when you arrive at the snowy islands. It’s a little too copy-and-paste for my liking. The same can also be said for the music – repeated constantly, it soon begins to grate and will have you reaching for the volume control.

What really bummed me out with Lost Sea though is the AI. Having a game remind you of the escort missions from the N64 era is never a good thing. There are moments where you can find and recruit people to join your group. They have a variety of skills from being able to open chests to building bridges. They’re crucial if you want to make it far in the game. Sadly though they are also incredibly dumb.

You see, they only follow you in a straight line and seem incapable of avoiding incoming attacks. For instance, there’s an enemy frog that jumps in the air before crashing down causing a shockwave, easy for the player to avoid, but as your AI companions just follow where you’ve walked they always end up directly underneath and take damage. Also, you really need to keep an eye on them because they have this annoying habit of getting stuck behind scenery and once you’ve walked too far ahead they just drop out of your team and stay where you left them. It’s infuriating and easily the worst part of this game.

The islands are interesting to explore.

The 3D control seems a little bizarre too. Hard to explain, it almost feels like a game from yesteryear where character movement was only mapped to eight directions. If you move the 3D stick slowly in a circle it takes far longer for your character to change direction than it should. There’s something sluggish about it and it just doesn’t feel quite right.

It’s a shame that these annoyances do pile up because when you’re making progress it’s a delight. Planning out your strategy, seeing whether it’s worth exploring the rest of the island or just sailing off to the next. There’s strategy here that is sadly overshadowed slightly by the mechanical jank. At £8.99, it’s reasonable and there are worse games you could spend your hard earned cash on. It just falls a little short of a day one recommendation.

 

Lost Sea is available now for PS4, Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Nintendo Switch version, which has a release date of 31 May. Find out more at lostseagame.com or follow @LostSeaGame on Twitter.