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The Sea Will Claim Everything

(Jonas & Verena Kyratzes; US: 23 May 2012)

The Sea Will Claim Everything is an indie point-and-click adventure game by Jonas Kyratzes. You have found a magical window, and The Mysterious Druid, (The is his first name) utilizes the bio-tech of his living house, the Underhome, so you can look into the Land of Dreams. There is trouble thanks to some thugs wanting to repossess his family home, and The Mysterious Druid has called on outside help to find out what is going on. From here the player is assigned a starting goal to heal the house and find out what the cause of this trouble is, but soon the game becomes concerned with exploration and introspection.


Everything works to this end. The normal style of play in a point-and-click adventure game has been so simplified that The Sea Will Claim Everything could sometimes be more accurately described as a visual novel. In a brilliant move, the whole game has been reduced to one click interactions.


What do you want to do in an adventure game? You want to look at things in the environment, talk to the characters, and open doors. No multiple interactions are required for anything here. Look, talk, use, open, give, and take have all been reduced to a click. If you click on an object, you will look at it. If you click on a sentient being, you will talk to it. If you click on a door, you will enter if it is unlocked. And in order to further cut the fat out of the game, if you have the right object, you will just use it. This may take the puzzle solving challenge out of the game, but the game is not about that. It’s about absorbing the culture—being a sightseer as it were. Additionally, with the challenge of figuring out the puzzles removed, so is any frustration that may arise out of their blocking progress with obtuse logic. The game becomes focused on the journey.


The world is rich with detail. Every book has a title. Every mushroom has a personality. Every flower, a story. The world rewards the meticulous clicking of every single item. I spent over an hour going through the first library that I came across, entranced by the titles and the mix of fiction and real world titles alongside the soft elbow nudging of other books’ pun laden titles. And while full personalities might not be developed for every personality of the fauna and fungi in the game, the quick snapshots of them enrich the world as a living, breathing, thinking place.


Don’t let the art put you off. It belies a very grown up story that reflects on the real world and, quite frankly, all but the broad strokes of people being hurt by liars and con artists might fly over younger player’s heads. Yet, even within this storybook style most of the images, environments, and characters are firmly grounded in the surreal—as it should be, because this is the Land of Dreams. The different environments convey the cultures that they are based on, the main islands representing Celtic, Greek and Arabian traditions. The music likewise infuses the game with a sense of place and plays at a lilting pace to create a perfect backdrop. By creating dream like atmosphere, we are all the more inclined to help when the Land of Dreams is invaded by real world problems.


In form and content The Sea Will Claim Everything‘s closest analog is Voltaire’s Candide. Whereas Candide is an essay in the form of a novel, The Sea Will Claim Everything is an essay in the form of a game. It comes whole from the mind of its creator—his beliefs, his opinions, his viewpoint on the world flow from the fictionalized lands to the player. Likewise both works feature a rather frank critique of the world they spawned from.


The Sea Will Claim Everything is overt in its stances. In the tradition of novelistic essays like Candide much of it is allegorical, but with regards to modern, well publicized issues it can feel overbearing. And it might be in general to some players if they only look at the broad strokes of the work and ignore all of the world’s details. It’s not about the grand events of history causing trouble, but the thousands of tiny little cuts that we all face everyday that are all but imperceptible to others. The Sea Will Claim Everything is strongly progressive in its viewpoint. The game and the author are proud of that, because it is their statement to the world about the world.


Overall The Sea Will Claim Everything is a meditative, philosophical, intelligent adventure game. It utilizes the form to create exactly the experience and state of mind needed to convey the message of the work. It’s the exact type of experience I look for in media, a work that is thoughtful about its form and respects its audience’s intelligence. I had talked about the title’s politics, because they are so integral to the game’s very being. However, if you are inclined to have such a gaming experience, you should play it regardless of its politics. The purpose of playing is not to determine whether you agree or not with these stances, but to engage with the ideas and nuances of the work in one direction or another.

Rating:

Eric Swain is a self-educated game critic. One day he had the crazy idea that video games could be put under the microscope with the same amount of respect and thought that books and movies are only to discover he was not the first person to think of this. He set out to learn all he could and hopefully add to the growing field of game criticism. He has no idea how far he's come or if he's moved forward much at all. He graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in English. You can read more of his work at http://www.thegamecritique.com .


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