After playing and enjoying Lost Sea when it originally released on the PC back in 2016, I was happy to see that it was coming to the Nintendo Switch. The pick up and play nature of the game perfectly suits the portability of the console, whilst the fact that I never managed to actually finish the game the first time around meant that I had some unfinished business with it. Finally, I can bring a peaceful end to my action-adventure journey on Lost Sea’s unforgiving islands…
After selecting one of eight characters, your adventure begins with you waking up on a beach after surviving a plane crash, the waves lapping on the shore and an imposing jungle behind you. Your first task is to salvage supplies and it’s not long before you find your first item, a machete. Your machete will be with you throughout the game and is primarily used for hacking down trees and killing the many enemies you’ll encounter along the way. Something else you’ll have throughout the game is the background music, which I found really sets the tone for Lost Sea; it’s very well composed and varied, adding a sense of light-heartedness to the adventure.
It’s not long before you come across another stranded survivor, known only as ‘Strange Man’, who asks you to follow him into the jungle. This isn’t something I’d normally recommend, but in this instance however it’s best to go along with it. After a short journey, ‘Strange Man’ asks for your help in finding his assistant. After setting off it’s not long before you run into another survivor who you can enrol into your crew – you can unlock the ability to have up to four crew members who will loyally follow you around the map like lost puppies. Each crew member has their own mixed set of skills. Some can unlock chests and repair broken pathways, whilst others can revive you if you die.
It’s at this point you’ll be equipped with a map and told about mysterious tablets you need to collect. The game is made up of many islands and by collecting the tablets you can travel between them. Each tablet allows you to move a certain number of steps (or islands), similar to rolling dice in a board game. Most islands have multiple tablets to discover, giving you more locations to visit which each vary in difficulty.
Tablets aren’t the only thing you’ll collect on your adventure. Littered throughout the maps are buried treasure, giant chests, as well as new weapons just to name a few. I found the items to be well placed around the map and although they are certainly not an abundant commodity, using each at the right time can certainly change the tide (excuse the pun) when facing a swarm of foes.
One of the features I found lacking was some kind of ‘point of interest’ marker for things like chests and crew members. For example, a number of times I completely walked by a survivor because a palm tree was obscuring my view. Yes, you can rotate the camera, and yes, survivors are visible on the map, but this isn’t something you always have open. It wouldn’t be too difficult to have something in the UI that highlights these kinds of points of interest – after all, the game has a marker for the location of your ship.
Once you’ve collected your first tablet and returned it to ‘Strange Man’, the real game kicks in. You now have the ability to upgrade your skills and ship using the coins and XP that you gained by killing enemies – hacking and slashing in this game is a must! Coins are used to upgrade your ship and fortunately Lost Sea has plenty of upgrades to offer with things like a ‘Forecastle’ that reveals islands that contain treasure, or a ‘Crow’s nest’ that randomly marks a tablet on the map. XP points can be used to acquire new skills like the ability to sprint, or what I found to be more useful, the ability to have more the one survivor in your crew.
Once you’ve finished spending you’re ready to set off to the next island. From the Sailing Screen you’ll see all the new locations available to you, which is based on how many tablets you have collected and the number of spaces they allow you to travel.
The next location I visited had a greater number of NPCs, and this is where the game starts to increase in difficulty. The enemies you encounter are colourful and varied, each with a distinct attack. Some fire projectiles, while others will try to jump and land on you. It adds to the well balanced combat Lost Sea features; however, it’s certainly far from perfect. Sometimes my crew members would end up getting in the way by either jumping in front of me and causing me to miss the enemy, or by being hit and killed by the enemy when they are meant to be hiding! In fact, the more crew members I had, the harder I found it to keep them in check. A number of times I’d lose crew, only to find them stuck behind a wall or some other inanimate object. It certainly doesn’t break the game but I was periodically doing head counts to make sure I had everyone.
One nice feature is the ability to change your crew members. If you come across a survivor with a skill you require, you can replace them with another crew member. The downside is that after dismissing a crew member they disappear and you won’t be able to recruit them again on that island, so remember to consider your selection wisely.
After collecting enough tablets you’ll face your first boss fight, though don’t expect your crew members to help you out here. The first boss you come across is a cannonball firing pirate who tries to belly flop you. None of this is particularly taxing but it pays to have the sprint skill you can acquire earlier in the game. Once you’ve defeated him you’ll then be able to explore his base and pick up any items you find lying around before moving onto the next zone. In total there are five zones, each with their own theme. It definitely adds a nice variety to the game that could otherwise become repetitive.
There is one thing I’ve not mentioned yet – Lost Sea features a permadeath mechanic. You know what that means? If and when you die in this game, that’s it… you’re starting back at the beginning. Say goodbye to your items, crew and any skills you have acquired. All you’ll be given is a small amount of coins and XP for any tablets you’ve collected, but besides that you are on your own.
Is this a bad thing? Well no. The game isn’t trying to be a Zelda or Diablo rip off; it’s a game that just wants you to pick up a pad and play. The game fits all types of gamers – casual players will enjoy the simplicity of quests and rewards as well the light-heartedness, whilst it’ll certainly cater for the hardcore gamer who wants something challenging with depth. With all the stat and ship upgrades, as well as the need to survive, there’s something for everyone.
Everything looks good and runs well on the Nintendo Switch in both portable and docked mode, with the framerate holding up well and the bright and snappy visuals standing out nicely. I came across no issues with the game during play, and, given the portable nature of the console, I’d say the Nintendo Switch is probably the best place to play Lost Sea.
Lost Sea is a great addition to the Nintendo Switch’s ever-growing collection of action-adventures. The visuals are bright and punchy with a cartoon style, whilst the music adds a playful tone. There’s a strong enough variety of enemies and locations that means the game won’t become stale after extended play too, which is something you can expect given the fact that each death means a restart of the game. It’s just a lot of fun to play.
It isn’t perfect though – camera angles are sometimes frustrating, whilst the lack of point of interest markers on the UI is annoying too. Some players might also tire of restarting over and over again if they’re not used to games with permadeath, with Lost Sea certainly proving a tricky experience at times. Fortunately, these are small missteps in what by all accounts is a game that’s very charming and a whole lot of fun to play.
Release Date: Out Now
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC