With your plane a total wreck, you have become stranded on a series of islands. Venture forward with only your trusty machete to try and make your way out of the mysterious Bermuda Triangle!
Lost Sea is a procedurally generated action-adventure game that takes place after the character you choose crashed on a mysterious island. You’ll quickly find your soon-to-be best friend – a machete – as well as another person. After rescuing this person, you’ll be able to start buying ship upgrades. You’ll need to collect a lot of coins and experience in order to make it off these islands!
One of the big things that Lost Sea revolves around is the upgrade system. As you explore the islands you will gain both coins and experience. Coins are earned from breaking barrels and boxes, and experience is obtained through the killing of enemies. These upgrades will grant you additional skills such as new attacks and the ability to dash, and you’ll be able to purchase upgrades for your ship through coins to allow you to find treasure, tablets, and more.
One of the issues I constantly had in Lost Sea is that I never felt like I had enough experience or coins. So many of the upgrades felt useful to actually get – more crew members to gain their abilities, the additional attacks skills, more health, and so on. It felt like if things were just a little bit cheaper then I would’ve been able to actually get more upgrades and it wouldn’t feel like I was struggling along.
Crew Members are people you can randomly find throughout the islands, and you will have the ability to recruit these people to follow you. The abilities these crew members can come with can prove to be extremely vital in your quest to escape. What everyone has is randomized, and you won’t be able to find out what it is they have until you talk to them. They can have up to four abilities at once, with these abilities ranging from giving you extra damage, bridge building (in specific locations), lockpicking for treasure chests, all the way to giving you an extra life so long as they are following you. Unfortunately, crew members have a big habit of getting stuck on random objects in the scenery, resulting in them no longer following you until you find them again.
With five different “areas” in the game – each separated by a boss fight at the end – there needs to be a decent variety in the types of enemies you’ll find. Thankfully, there is a decent variety in the enemies. As you progress through the different areas, you will come to encounter new types of enemies, each generally themed around the type of area you’re in. While you will find plants within the first, grassy, area, the second area will lead to dinosaurs and elephant looking enemies within a desert full of bones.
While the first two areas may not prove to be too difficult, the difficulty definitely starts to ramp up starting in the third area. This is where it’ll really come to a head in making sure you’ve obtained good abilities to make forward. The majority of my deaths in the game came at this point due to the major difficulty ramp that happens.
Lost Sea feels a lot like a game that you’d want to pick up, play for ten minutes, and then put it down for a little. Unfortunately, the game likes to punish you for doing this. With the game having one of its features being permadeath – something that is totally fine and helps add to the difficulty – one thing you really want to try and be is methodical about what you pick up and learn. This can cause the game to last for much longer than you might feel like playing in a single session. As someone who likes to switch between several games, I was severely disappointed to find that if I exited out of Lost Sea without having died first, I lost everything.
Normally the game awards you with gold and experience based on how many tablets you found in your prior run. If you exit out of the game without having died and then launch back into it, you’ll find that you don’t get this bonus. Any work you had done in the previous run is now gone, with only collected treasures and warppoints remaining. Luckily there are warppoints, but you’ll often be hard pressed to actually start in an area beyond the first since the compensation – when you died out of the last run and didn’t quit out – often doesn’t get you enough skills to make it very far.
I mentioned earlier that crew members you find can sometimes come with the ability to open up locked treasure chests. Within these chests are usable items that can aid you in your quest. These items can provide a variety of effects. There’s a pistol that will shoot out a string of bullets, likely killing any enemy it connects with. There are some healing items that are some of only a few methods you’re able to heal up in the game (the other is through purple trees that can be found scattered across the islands). There’s a bomb that will detonate and deal a good amount of damage to anything within a decent range of it (likely killing them, much like with the pistol). There’s potions that can give you experience or speed boosts, as well as a temporary attack boost that’ll deal a massive amount of damage to you when it ends.
With quite a few items to find, I still often found myself just not using them, typically even forgetting they were there or just finding it too awkward to try and use them. You’ll also have to spend more of your precious experience to be able to carry more items along with you, something I already felt stretched on using to afford other upgrades. You are also not actually able to find out what items do until you use though, or at least if there is a way to do so I just never found it. It would’ve been nice if I had felt more incentivized to actually use this, or that it was at least easier to access them while trying to do other things in the game.
The art is an area that this game absolutely nailed. The game is very bright and colourful, proving to be very pleasing to the eye. I did notice that there was some glitches from shadows on objects depending on how you had your camera, but it wasn’t bad enough to really detract from the game. The sound is also fairly good, though I did find myself getting a bit tired of the music after a while.
Lost Sea is a game that feels like it has so much potential within it. I found the procedural generation to be good, though you’ll definitely start to “recognize” the different area types after enough time playing. I do wish that the game actually had a proper saving features as it really feels like something you’d want to just play for a little bit at a time and then put it down. Getting pretty much punished for wanting to switch between games often made it an exercise in frustration, probably resulting in more deaths than I should have really had from just feeling “done” with playing for that session.
As long as you don’t mind the lack of proper saving and are able to set aside enough time for a single session (anywhere from 2-4 hours, maybe even more depending on how slow you are), then Lost Sea is great as it is now. I just personally found it to not be a game I could play for very long single periods of time and had troubles focusing on it if I’d been playing for too long. As it stands right now, I am giving Lost Sea a shaky recommendation. It does hold a lot of promise, but it also just feels like it easily drags on without much opportunity to take a break (especially to go play anything else).
Lost Sea (PS4) Review Score
Lost Sea is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.
I would like to thank the developer for providing me with a PS4 code for review purposes.