|The Sea Will Claim Everything|
|MtAMinutes to Action||3|
Bundle in a Box’s first bundle was adventure-themed. If you paid an astounding $100 or a trifling $1, you got the following point-and-clicky PC games: Gemini Rue, Ben There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please!, 1893: A World's Fair Mystery, and The Sea Will Claim Everything. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, because if you beat the average price at the time you also got The Shivah from Wadjet Eye Games and Metal Dead. That’s quite a grouping and, of them, I was most excited to play The Shivah as my wife and I devoured all of Rosangela’s and Joey’s adventures in a short span of time and were eager for more from the man known as Dave Gilbert. Unfortunately, my laptop wasn’t playing nice, and so I went to the next interesting title on the list.
The Sea Will Claim Everything is a point-and-click adventure game by Jonas and Verena Kyratzes, a husband and wife team that have made some other games set in the Lands of Dreams. This one, however, debuted to the world with this bundle. It has a really unique art style to it, akin to coloring book pages brimming with content. Other than that, I don’t know much about the plot, but I’m ready to click around.
00 – Launching The Sea Will Claim Everything brings us directly to the main menu screen. No flashing list of publisher and developer logos, no fluff—just right to it. It’s an…odd main menu, featuring what someone might consider a picturesque drawing of a beach and options like “initiate new connection.” Which I do. However, before starting the game proper, a message pops up: relax, slow down, take your time.
02 – The user interface comes up. On the right side of the screen, the stone tablet allows you to save, load, or play a weird sound; I can confirm that it is indeed weird. There’s a map function that I can’t use yet. The scroll keeps track of all current objectives, and the backpack is for your inventory. Text appears at the bottom of the screen, and it seems like someone is talking to me, philosophically musing about islands and the sea. This unseen person also tells me about Underhome’s problems; it’s the place I’m currently in and it’s a living house, one that has been badly damaged due to an earlier raid. In order to see who is talking to me—as in, turn the graphics “on”—I have to flip a lever at the top part of the screen.
03 – Ah, so that’s who was talking to me; he looks like a wizard. In full control now and can click around the screen. It’s an office setting. In fact, you can click on nearly everything on the screen. Just about every item, from the bottles on shelves to the teeniest mushrooms, is ripe for examining. A portrait tells me the name of the wizard before I even speak to him: Rupert Mysterious-Druid. Though he prefers to be simply called The. I also earned my first quest, to fix Underhome’s air filtration system. Scroll updated.
05 – I’m still on the first screen with the wizard and, um, holographic AI named EDDIE. There is literally a bajillion things to click on, and I am enjoying reading all the descriptions as they vary in tone and punch. Plus, the dialogue system harkens back to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, where if you ask about one topic, another might unlock. Mmm…
06 – New item found! It’s a Deceyepherer Restart Disk. My copyeditor counterpart cringes at the name.
07 – All right, on a new screen, and it’s simply amazing: the library. Not going to count, but there has to be at least fifty books here, and all of them are clickable. All of them are named. Some are obviously fictitious tomes created for this Lands of Dreams setting, but, strangely, I also found works by China Mieville, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Iain M. Banks.
09 – There’s an elevator in front of me, but a flower has wrapped its stem and leaves around the control panel. Was able to talk to it and convince it to let me through. I have now access to more floors in Underhome, including the cellar.
11 – Decided to start on the first floor. Found a magical talking bird named Melchior. Is that a nod to Chrono Trigger? Me thinks so.
12 – Scroll updated with a new quest. Seems like Underhome needs a new carpet in one of its room after the place was looted and ransacked by Lord Urizen’s goons. Will keep an eye out for any traveling carpet merchants.
15 – A talking spider told me what to set the humidity level to, but I just can’t get it to stay. The counter keeps changing, going high, going low. It’s definitely unstable.
20 – Picked up a number of new quests as I finished looking around all the unlocked rooms in Underhome. Not sure what I should be focusing on. Let’s head back and see what The has to say. Need some guidance.
23 – All right, now I’m trying to find fertilizer in a room full of boxes. I have to click on every single one to see what it contains. I don’t even really understand why I need this fertilizer, but I think it has something to do with the overgrown roots in the cellar. However, finding it is like picking out a needle in a haystack.
25 – Okay, that was two minutes of box-clicking. Not a euphemism.
27 – Yes! With a lot of luck, I was able to fix the humidity problem, getting the desired number to stay put. So, that’s one major quest completed.
31 – Starting to feel stuck. Literally. I am literally stuck in Underhome. I have a scroll full of quests and an inventory with a bunch of random items, but I have visited all the rooms (I think) and can’t seem to figure out what to do next.
34 – Okay. In an unoccupied office, and there’s a computer. I was somehow able to restart the security program. The computer also gives me a log of Underhome’s many problems, and of them I’ve solved one. Guess I need to complete the others before I’m allowed outside. Wish the quest scroll gave me more than a mere list of goals, as the quests are becoming fuzzier and fuzzier as new ones are continuously added.
37 – Playing around with the Alchemifacator 1000. You can mix liquids with two ingredients to create…uh, stuff. At one point, the machine asks me, “You’re just mixing stuff up now, aren’t ya?” Guilty as charged.
38 – Wait. I got outside. I tried running the “unlock” program on the front door, and it opened. All righty then. Smell you later, Underhome. New, pretty piano music plays as I take in the colorful beach setting. My text window tells me that I’m on the Isle of the Moon.
40 – Heading towards the lighthouse in the distance. It is several screens away, evidently. Oh, and I can now use the map to fast travel back to Underhome. Sweet. If there’s one game that needs fast travel, it be unarguably this one.
41 – The lighthouse is locked. Around the corner though is an octopus. Wait, no. His name is Jack the Octopirate. Other than him, this place is a dead end. Retracing my footsteps then.
42 – Found Port Darragh, a new location, which unlocked on my map for fast travel purposes. Banbhan the boarman guards the entrance, but does little to stop me from heading on in. The door to the mayor’s house is locked so I head left to the actual port part. There’s a seagull there willing to sell me a ship if I do something for it.
43 – This place is just brimming with strange inhabitants and new quests to solve. Beginning to feel very overwhelmed…
45 – An elven merchant greeted me with “Mae govannen, traveler.” Where the *bleep* am I?
47 – Every single person I meet is giving me a new quest in exchange for their special coin tokens, which I need, but don’t really know why. I won’t lie—I’ve skipped past some chunks of dialogue as this place has been all talk, all the time.
50 – Fast traveling over to Shadowy Glen. The music quickly turns ominous. Better watch where I click.
51 – Okay, found Oi’s father working in the brewery deep in the woods. He gave me beer, which I can trade with for his son’s token. Baby steps, people.
52 – There’s a hungry Irish-like lad named Patrick hanging outside the tavern. I went inside and convinced the bartender to spare some food for him, which he does without question, and then Patrick gives me his token. So, now I have two of these special tokens. It’s all happening.
53 – Another location unlocked on my map, and so off I go to Olwynion. It’s a wreck. The marketplace is completed destroyed, and there’s a dragon there, but I can’t speak with it just yet. Not much else here.
57 – Okay, went back to the guard for Port Darragh, and he told me how to get inside the mayor’s office. The mayor then points me back to the locked lighthouse.
58 – And just like that, I’m back at the lighthouse, speaking to Jack the Octopirate. He gives me a compass and lets me inside his lighthouse.
60 – From the top of the lighthouse, I can see Ynys Island in the distance. Now that I have a compass, I’m assuming I just need a sextant and can then take a ship from Port Darragh over. Also, a tiny caterpillar sits on the railing, taking in the breeze. Its name is Katzensaeule, and it claims to come from the Beyond, here in the Lands of Dreams to take in as much knowledge as possible. Fortuitously, so am I. However, our sixty minutes with The Sea Will Claim Everything is up.
Minutes to Action: 3
What I loved: The colorful world and characters, and the length that the Kyratzes duo go to make the world as immersive as possible. There’s a great deal of literary criticism, philosophy, and Ancient Greek literature, as well as intelligent parody. The quests are nothing more than by-the-book fetch quests, but the writing behind them is fun and smartly done. The musical score, composed by Chris Christodoulou, is quite evocative, too.
What I hated: Quest exhaustion and the way game can feel like there’s too many details to take in at once. At times, it was off-putting, and I was reluctant to click on many items just avoid devouring more and more text. This might seem like a contradiction to my above “what I loved,” but there does need to be a balance somewhere.
What I felt lukewarm about: Some of the references felt odd. I mentioned before that I saw books by popular, current authors in the library. I saw Borderlands get a mention in an AIM chat-log. And that elven merchant speaking Tolkien’s form of Elvish. I dunno. It all felt too on the nose and out of place, even in a place as fantastical as the Lands of Dreams.
Would I Keep Playing? Yes. Though definitely at a slower pace. I should have paid more attention to that kind message at the beginning of my journey, but since I was playing this for review coverage, I was trying to keep the momentum up and pace going to see more and more, which caused me to miss some minute details and force my way forward in blindness. I’m very curious to see where all of this is going, and whether saving Underhome from disrepair is just the start of something more epic.