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Lost Sea Review

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Permadeth. A word that sends shivers down my spine. A word that usually ensures I keep away.

But in the case of Lost Sea, it’s something which has been utilised to such a degree that the one death – game over scenario isn’t ever too harsh. For Lost Sea is strangely rather inviting.

Set in the perilous environment of the Bermuda Triangle, Lost Sea sends your random character exploring randomly generated islands in search of a random mysterious portal which will hopefully take you home. There is a lot of randomness in Lost Sea but that is what makes it what it is.

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Now, not only do these islands come in different shapes and sizes, but with millions of procedurally generated options on the table, will be completely different each time you play. Some may be filled with treasure to collect, others with thousands of bushes to hack down for little reward. More still will be filled to the brim with dangerous critters whom have been previously lost to the mists of time. It is the Bermuda Triangle after all, but in order to succeed fully, you’ll need to check out every corner of every island thoroughly.

To travel from island to island, you’ll need to hunt down some mysterious tablets, hop aboard your ship, and then move between archipelagos dependant on which tablet you have in hand. Some may allow you to shift along at a fast rate, whilst others will only be able to move you up an island or two. It’s a strange way of advancing through the Lost Sea, one that is much more akin to the roll of a die found with a physical card game, but it works well and gives plenty of reason for tablet hunting when you do drop onto the islands.

Lost Sea really does drag you in and drip feed enough goodies to make you want to continue. With each slash of your machete, a bush will disappear, perhaps gifting a much needed health add-on in the process. The same goes for the numerous barrels and wooden crates which are scattered around the islands. These normally play host to coins which can then be exchanged for some brilliant player skills, or ship upgrades, at a later time. It is these upgrades which are key to your survival and whether you play in order to reach the end as fast as you can, or prefer to scavenge every last drop from every single island, the choice is yours.

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The island inhabitants that you’ll come up against are well created and a delight to see. Other than running with some rather basic intelligence, and attack patterns which can usually be easily intercepted, it’s good to be able to do battle with little dinosaurs, huge humanoid elephants or cannonball breathing plants amongst others. Granted, they aren’t going to be the toughest enemies you ever find yourself up against, and when going in one-on-one, will find a few slashes of your sword are more than enough to get rid, but should you stumble upon a large gathering, then all hell can easily break loose.

It is about that time when you’ll be looking to use the bombs, the guns and the magical invulnerability vests that you’ve managed to find hidden away in a corner of the map.

You won’t however be able to do it all alone and should you stumble upon some other survivors, will find it for the best if you try and recruit them to your team asap. Not only do they all bring unique skills to the table, with some digging up useful artefacts, others building bridges to the ever useful magical healing trees, or having the requisite skills needed to force open a locked treasure chest, but strength in numbers is a key component. Whilst you won’t find them putting up much of a fight, just having them nearby is usually good enough to enthuse your guy, girl, or random hillbilly to up their attack strength.

So, once you’ve wandered the wilderness, found at least one of the magical tablets and whored the earth for as much coinage and XP as you possibly can, it’ll be time to head back to your ship, throw the tablet onto the map screen and sail away to the next island, ready to do it all again. Unless of course you die, in which case you’ll be thrown back to the start of the very first island once more, upgrades, skills and equipment all lost to the wonderfully magic Bermuda Triangle.

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Survive enough though and you’ll reach the end of each area which comes complete with a ‘Boss Island’. This does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not a place for scouring and it’s not a place for finding more survivors, but it is a place that will pit you up against an end of area creature who is determined to do you damage, stop you leaving the islands and keep you held back in the Triangle forever more. It is also the place which saves Lost Sea from becoming an absolute headache of the biggest magnitude.

You see, whilst Lost Sea is full of delight, it’s not all good news. Unfortunately it falls down big time with one major issue. Save points.

Now, when I sit down to spend time gaming, I’ll either jump on for a quick 15 minute bash or I’ll shut myself away from the world and dedicate hours on end to the task at hand. Lost Sea easily lets you do both of these things, and is a good time waster for those who are trying to keep away from doing something a bit more productive. But, and this is a huge but, you never know how long your session with Lost Sea will last. It may be over in the blink of an eye, or you may be sat around smashing crates and barrels for what seems like eternity. And once you’ve got involved, aside from succumbing to the strange creatures that inhabit an island, you’re pretty much stuck there. Unless you want to lose ALL your progress.

Yes, if you manage to make your way through to the boss of each area, then you’ll be able to make the most of a nifty warp feature the next time round, but without a proper save point to be found anywhere in the game, you’ll be left frustrated each and every time you need to switch off. And that is a huge shame because with the chance to save your progress every now and then and being able to occasionally keep hold of the vital upgrades that you have actioned, Lost Sea would very nearly be a must buy.

But without that, it’s not. And that saddens me greatly.

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Because you see, the lack of save point is the only really massive Lost Sea issue. I have to admit to crying out for a mini map to be displayed at all times, because whilst it’s not bad running around in circles forever more, the very slight delay in opening the map, putting a plan in place, and then closing it again just breaks up the enjoyable bits in Lost Sea a little too much. It’s not a game breaker by any means, but I’d much prefer to have the option of following a small mini-map at all times. Even if it’s just one that can help me find my way back to my boat or pick up the nearest bit of treasure.

Lost Sea is very close to being one of those games that each and every gamer must be spending time with. It may have been nice to see some co-operative features included, but it’s got some lovely visuals, some brilliant upgrades and some unique ideas that just have to be checked out. I’ve had some huge joy found in my time with the game, but without a save system of note, have also found huge frustration and annoyance.

You thought permadeath was bad? It’s nothing compared to seeing hours of investment thrown away in an instant.

Related: Let’s Play Lost Sea on Xbox One!

Neil Watton
Neil Wattonhttps://www.thexboxhub.com/
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S - mostly with the brilliant indie scene that has come to the fore. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.
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