Lost At Sea is a game that is focused on key moments on your life. It asks a fundamental question and bases its entire game around it. What memories will you remember when you look back at your life?
You play the role of Anna. Anna washes up on an island but the island isn’t 100% real. The island is more like a mixture of memories and moments of Anna’s life separated into time periods. You have early age, teenage life, adulthood and old age. Each area is surrealist and chock full of inventive visual ideas that evoke carnage, misinformation and slight confusion. Each area evokes memories for Anna to talk but some parts are missing and scattered across the island. Your task is to venture out, find the items that spark the memory, complete the puzzle associated with it and then return it back to the memories where they should be.
I love the idea of Lost At Sea. it touches on a lot of deep themes. For me, the overall feel is as if Anna has Alzheimer’s and you are restoring her memories in her old age. The actual memories themselves are a mixture of joy and darkness as her entire life is centred around her child which she lost at a young age. Loss and acceptance are huge themes throughout and they touch on every part of the journey.
As you find each memory piece, puzzles are kicked off. They largely revolve around collecting light orbs but how you do that is different in every situation. What Lost At Sea doesn’t do well is visually telegraph what you should be doing on these puzzles though. It goes with the no tutorial, no text, no idea approach and across the 16 puzzles around half of them require some trial and error to understand what to do. Once you know what to do, the puzzles are light and straightforward though. A compass keeps track of where you need to go for each piece so the search itself is minimised. Do expect to run back and forth between locations a few times though and this brings me to one of the only negatives I have about the game.
As you travel around the island, you cannot stand still to admire the beautiful graphics and location you are basking in. A secondary gameplay element here is fear and it manifests as dark wisps and clouds that turn into a purple lightning ball. This will then chase you and you can either run away from your fears to a safe location of a memory or stand up to it by mashing the interact button. Whilst fear doesn’t kill you, it will respawn you back to your last memory checkpoint and so you’ve got to running all over again. I found this was more of an annoyance rather than an integral gameplay element. I wanted to turn it off. It makes sense as an idea and in the story but I’d have preferred to be frozen in fear and to mash some buttons to free myself and get going again. It also made me rush the experience, which when Lost At Sea can be completed in under 3 hours, seems a shame given the love and detail the island and story provides.
I enjoyed Lost At Sea and really resonated with the story. I just felt a little rushed getting through it because of being chased by fear. I’d love to spend more time on the island but I don’t feel like returning to it immediately after finishing it. Lost At Sea did make me think about a lot of things though and that is a great compliment to its ideas and story.
Review Copy provided by developer.
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