Content Warning: Discussion of mental illness including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
You begin alone in a boat surrounded by a dark sea and storming sky. Kay, your protagonist, has told us she is trying to piece everything together. She told us that she has a family and friends, but yet, she is still feeling alone, again. She questions what is wrong with her and her rage towards her “difference.” She wants to change; she wants to change herself. But to what?
Kay is seen as a small, black creature with a luminous colored backpack in a small boat.
You begin the Sea of Solitude by traversing through the desolate and blackened waters to a beam of light off into the distance. From just the prologue, the player can see the glass-like water with a broken city underneath. Animation lead, Miriam Jud, and lead artist, Jania Gerards, make this sometimes-dark sea exceptionally beautiful even in the grimmest of lights. With Kay’s story, their vision of this world is one that this writer could personally connect with.
As the game progresses, Sea of Solitude brings the player through not only these dark waters but also bright and brilliant ones illuminated by Kay’s boat. As Kay treks through the twelve chapters of her story, she remembers how and why everything has affected her. As Kay chases around a small glowing orb to retrieve her memories, the player is matched with motifs of catharsis, silence, self-reflection, masking ourselves, isolation, and acceptance. The gameplay is not difficult, as Kay finds small balls of black called “the corrupted.” As Kay fights off these corruptions, she deals with hurting herself to save others, or to move forward with her own story. The gameplay mixes their style of platforming, puzzle-solving, and stealth to navigate the buildings, avoiding the monsters underwater. However, the simple gameplay adds a lot to the feel of the story and that Cornelia Geppert wanted.
Within the game, the graphics are not only the main point of this game. With music composed by Guy Jackson, sets the mood for each chapter, and sub-chapter, of Kay’s journey. Each step making its own entrance to give life to these lonely aspects of Kay’s memories. Some tracks being lighthearted and whimsical like “Discover the Past,” can be juxtaposed to the monstrous sounds of “Through the Matrix.” Music, for some, can make or break a video game; especially when the game is story and graphics driven. Guy Jackson accomplishes making the player feel like they are Kay in every footstep and boat ride she takes.
With finding out where her loneliness stems from, and why she is a monster in the first place, the player is set through an emotional journey that can feel Geppert’s own story. This game is for the players that loved games like Journey, Flower, Azul, Unravel, and many more. It can also be for those who love Joseph Campbell and his messages of “The Hero’s Journey” within writing and literature.
Sea of Solitude is an indie adventure game created by Jo-Mei Games and published by EA Original, Electronic Arts division to devote more resources to shining the spotlight on indie game developers. Sea of Solitude is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.