The Bermuda Triangle has a crtain reputation. You don’t think of it and call to mind the subtropical islands, but rather the legend of ships and planes disappearing within that area of the Atlantic Ocean. There are many theories surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, from navigational issues to alien activity, but Eastasiasoft’s premise for Lost Sea manages to be a little further off the wall.
Once you’ve selected your character at the start of the game – a purely cosmetic choice – you’ll land on the first island where you discover that the storm you went through in the Atlantic was a portal to a different realm, with this information being relayed to you by a scientist who came up with the theory.
From here you need to venture forth and search for stone tablets and crew members to embark on the exploration of the various islands ahead. However things aren’t all that simple, with procedurally generated levels and permadeath meaning that you’ll likely have to start over a number of times and will have a different challenge each time. Each tablet you find on an island has a different value to it, acting a bit like a die roll. This number determines which island you can travel to along the chain, which leads to a risk versus reward style of play.
Each island has its dangers with various enemies and health pick ups that are hard to come by. When looking for the tablets you need to be careful while fighting the various enemies, with each having their own forms of combat. The giant will smash the ground and send a shockwave to deal damage, the elephant will try and hit you with its tusks, while the little dinosaur will charge moments after seeing you. There are a number of monsters whose attacks you’ll need to learn to read.
Due to having limited health, you need to weigh up the risks of going for all the tablets an island holds, as well as the associated experience and the gold hidden in crates, against moving ahead towards the boss island. Early on it’s better to go for the experience points and treasure to improve your character skills and the perks of your ship. However, you need to be aware that these skill unlocks do not carry over when you die.
Instead, depending on your performance a portion of experience points and gold will carry over to the next character, though losing all of your progress can dull your motivation. Skills are quite expensive to unlock and for these not to carry over makes Lost Sea feel like a grind when it really doesn’t need to be. The exploration of the islands and improving a character with more permanent unlocks would make Lost Sea a much more entertaining experience.
All of this does make Lost Sea feel repetitive, and it isn’t helped by the islands being incredibly similar in terms of layout, despite being procedurally generated. According to the trailer, there are millions of islands to explore but there only seem to be a few shapes they take. It seemed as though the island layouts were repeating, even if they were different environmental types like jungle, desert, and arctic.
There’s very little variety in terms of what you do either. Land on an island, find the tablets, kill or avoid monsters, upgrade if you can afford it, return to ship, repeat. This formula could work in small sessions of gaming but long stints with Lost Sea just feels like a slog. It’s a shame because the art of the game is actually pretty eye catching, with vibrant and attractive colours. The designs and actions of the monsters are good too, though there are times when their pathfinding is off and they get stuck walking into scenery. The music is a bit repetitive for each region, but the tracks do sound good and loop perfectly.
Lost Sea isn’t a bad game, but it does little to stand out. It does feel like that the developers could have followed a different path to keep things more interesting, and the lack of transferable skills and unlocks slows the progression to a crawl. Outside of boss fights, there’s little gameplay variation, making Lost Sea a drag when playing in long periods, but OK for shorts bursts here and there.