Review: The Sea Will Claim Everything
If you want to be a pedant (and I love nothing more than pedantry), you can boil almost any PC game down to clicking. Point-and-click adventures, obviously, but also puzzlers, simulators, and even FPSes if you go by the classic line about sniping being a point-and-click adventure where the only puzzle is Use Gun On Head. I bring this up because of all the clicking to be had in the gaming world, The Sea Will Claim Everything might be the most fun I’ve ever had clicking on things. Not because it’s particularly pretty or complex clicking, but because what you get for it is so delightfully rewarding.
TSWCE is posed not as a game, but as a portal into the fanciful Lands of Dream. A fellow by the name of The Mysterious-Druid has grown this techno-organic interface for you so that you can help him solve a few pressing problems in his picturesque realm, namely the foreclosure of his equally techno-organic home, the disappearance of his girlfriend, and the political unrest threatening the Fortunate Isles. Luckily for you this portal functions much like a point-and-click adventure, with static scenes to click around, key phrases to initiate dialog with, items to find, combine, and use, and some other less-useful but plenty interesting features.
It’s a cheeky premise for a game but you can’t really appreciate how well it works until you get to that first scene and start clicking things. It’s not a particularly strange scene, just a druid in a cave with a bunch of books and boxes and computery-things. But every single thing you click has a different, quirky description. And I mean EVERYTHING, every single book, every single mushroom, every single button, and every single bit of decor has something to say about its philosophy or political alignment or life goal or something equally irreverant. Scenes in this game brim with secrets where the reward is a clever line that’s more than likely going to make you chuckle.
The Room and its sequel have long been my high-water mark for enjoyment just from clicking things, with every single switch and key and object having Blizzard-levels of tactile quality to clicking them. But TSWCE is an entirely new paradigm of clicking enjoyment, where every scene is full of things you just can’t wait to click on because you’ll be instantly regaled with loads of charm. That’s really the key to making a great adventure game, giving players a world that is irresistible to explore, and while others have achieved that through graphics or story, this title does it through masterful writing.
That’s not to say the story isn’t a draw here, of course. The creativity and attention to detail that starts you off with a dimensional window in a techno-organic habitat extends fully to the rest of the game. The Fortunate Isles lie in the Lands of Dream, where goat people and elves and talking skulls and philosopher trees live and work side by side. Every one of them is a grounded, realistic character for what they are, fascinating to converse with without ever wearing out their welcomes. As your quest to aid The Mysterious-Druid unfolds you’ll find a thread of plot that strongly echoes the hardships of our very real world, held aloft by subversions of myth, challengers of intellect, and some of the best writing to be found in gaming.
It took me a bit to warm up to the pace and style of this one, but rarely have I been so well-rewarded for sticking it out. Every element of the game is woven together with masterful artistry, from the detailed window that itself is used in puzzles to the random crafting experimentation that rewards you with more charming writing and secrets. You will never run out of discussions and descriptions to revel in, full of clever puns, thoughtful symbolism, and heartwarming plot. The Sea Will Claim Everything is a true treasure, a game of magnificent prose presented as rewards for exploring a rich and colorful world.