Monday, 11 July 2016

Asylum Reviews: Lost Sea [Xbox One].

Lost Sea is a roguelike game developed by Eastasiasoft, whose previous games include the likes of Rainbow Moon and Söldner-X. When I say roguelike, I mean it in a very vague manner; the game does have the procedurally generated levels and permadeath necessary to deem it as such, but the sections that are generated as you move throughout the level are pre-rendered, and extremely limited in number - resulting in an often confusing repetitiveness, that can make the game feel a little like a chore.

Permadeath, albeit with some credits and experience carrying on into successive runs, can be frustrating as hell, but that is something that obviously defines the roguelike genre. The characters you can choose from each run are varied and pretty well designed, however they are definitely lacking the names and character differences such as weapons, abilities and/or stats, that other roguelikes have to differentiate between playable characters, and also give a bit of change to each playthrough, rather than having most go in the same way. This is something I feel that the game could have benefited greatly from, and would have given it much more replayability.

The game itself is pretty, I'll give it that. With bright, beautiful scenery throughout the levels - be they desert, snowy, or swampy (etc.), are lovely to look at, and enemy character design (as well as the companions who can tag along with you) are great, too - if again, a bit repetitive.

 Playing through the game, it can be quite laborious at times. The game isn't overly hard, but with limited health, and permadeath a constant threat considering that it only takes a few hits to completely wipe out your health bar, playing the game can take quite a bit more time and effort than I can be bothered giving. Although, I will admit that this constant cycle of death keeps you coming back for more, in a "Just one more run..." loop. The length it takes to get through the game can be quite offputting however, as it takes much longer than the average Binding of Isaac run, to get through the game - especially as you cannot save progress, or even exit out of the game to do something else for a while, before coming back. Instead of having a "suspend-save", it just starts you back at the beginning. Every. Damn. Time. Essentially, the game is designed for you to sit and play through it in one go, but that just isn't feasible, considering how long it takes to actually work through it. You can Warp to other stages after defeating each boss, but this also impacts negatively on your playthrough (such as losing character progression, for instance).

The companions system is something I like in games, adding additional party members and weighing up who to keep (and who to give the boot!) in order to give you the best possible playthrough you can get. It's a little under-developed however, as most of the companions have a vast range of abilities, meaning once you unlock the ability to have 2 or more following you, you pretty much don't have to worry about anything stopping you, such as broken bridges or locked chests. A smaller ability set for each companion would have been better, giving you more of a difficult task in deciding who to take along with you from island to island. The companions are also sadly useless when it comes to combat. Not only do they not help you fight (not that it's needed, anyway), but they don't even run away from enemies - instead curling up in a ball, oftentimes right where an enemy is gonna get them, meaning that you often kill off companions through little fault of your own.

A maximum of four companions can follow you at any one time, which is great, but having so many follow you (in a line, no less) can cause some issues, especially in levels where there a lot of turning as they usually end up stuck behind a wall or down some stairs, which can definitely be quite annoying when you have to double back every few minutes to retrieve someone.

Lastly, boss battles are a nice change of pace to the game, signifying the end of each "Stage" of the game, however these also tend to veer onto the repetitive side of things again.

Lost Sea is a game that, no pun intended, you can get lost in for a while, and is a great little game for just passing the time, but don't expect anything too groundbreaking with it. At a price point of £11.99 in the UK (from the Xbox store at least), it's priced fairly for the amount of gameplay you get.

Overall, we'd have to rate it a 6/10.

Lost Sea is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC now.

What are your thoughts on Lost Sea?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

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