Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The famed Bermuda Triangle where airplanes have mysteriously vanished over the years is one of the best ideas for the location of a Roguelike. Coming from EastAsiaSoft, the makers of Rainbow Moon, Lost Sea picks one of several stranded survivors that’s plane has crashed and joins in with others from various islands to make it out of this accursed region shrouded in mystery and monsters.
Starting with literally nothing more than the clothes on your back it doesn’t take long before your trusty tool and only permanent friend comes into your life. Armed now with a machete you set off to figure out exactly what to do next. Coming across another human is a good start to this adventure as this other man arms you with a quest of finding his assistant. Glorious? Maybe not. At this point however anything goes because having something to do is much better than nothing and potentially making friends with a volleyball.
Setting out to find the assistant is the start of a perilous adventure that if not taken seriously can easily spell disaster and the end of a life. Lost Sea is a true Roguelike. If you die, that’s it, you’re dead. The goal of exploration is to pick up treasure tablets on each island which open up new paths in a semblance of sea charts to one of the next ones over. Finding these tablets at the beginning is going to take a fair amount of effort as the only way to find them is to literally come across them on wild animal and monster infested islands.
Fighting monsters and moving through brush and most obstacles is easy enough with your Machete. Defeating monsters will yield experience points and breaking trees, bushes, and crates will drop gold. Being a roguelike, these two currencies are only good for the here and now and should be used as often as possible through the services of the first man you encountered.
Setting up shop on a conveniently designed and well placed dock the man you aided in by finding his assistant and your first tablet offers you three distinct services. The first of these services is spending any gained experience in order to learn new abilities or increase basic passive ones. This allows our explorer to run, dodge, and use more moves than simply swinging the machete around.
The second service that offered is spending gold for ship upgrades that can help to easily locate treasure tablets and other humans trapped here. This makes looking around the island a bit easier as there’s at least a set direction to set off upon once landing on it. Finally the last of the services is the ability to hop to the next island down the lane with the use of treasure tablets in order to continue searching for a wait out of this region.
More than offering you services, the man’s assistant now follows you around as one of your first crew members. Starting off with only the ability to have one follower, more can be gained by spending experience to improve your leadership skills. Each crewmember comes with up to four different abilities that all have their own obvious uses in the field:
● Locksmiths unlock chests for items
● Carpenters can build bridges at appropriate locations
● Revivers can only bring you back to life once before they lose their halo and the ability
● Miners can dig up items at specified points
There are others that increase the amount of experience gained, how hard you hit, how hard you can be hit, and finally how tough the crew member themselves are. A good balance between bonuses for you and field abilities are important if you want to make it further out and find a way out of here.
Because the possibility is more of a when than an if, when you die all crew members, experience, gold, and progress is pretty much gone. There are only two saving graces. The first is that any tablet picked up, and these should be picked up in higher quantities, give any new character 100xp and 50gp per tablet. This helps starting back up as at least you are not starting from nothing. The second is that is you and your crew members can make it down to the end of the lane and face off against the boss and win, new characters can start from the next point instead of the very beginning. There are times where starting further back will be useful for more tablets and acquiring items and crew members, but generally starting back up from further down the adventure line is not a bad thing.
The only issue that I really have with Lost Sea is that the story disappears after saving the assistant. The man that gave you a purpose other than finding out how to get out of here simply sits behind his counter and awaits you spending your currencies. With all of the islands and the possible crew members there’s no dialog and it becomes a rinse and repeat to make it down the lane as even the boss other than a few gestures says not a word. There were a lot of possibilities for story and character interactions but the Roguelike takes over and gameplay reigns supreme. The gameplay is very good though and it is easy to lose yourself for large chunks at a time.
Overall Lost Sea is a great Roguelike that sticks to that concept very well without introducing loads of other features that bury the point. The search for the tablets can be an exhilarating or terrifying one depending upon which island you fortunately or unfortunately landed upon as the danger of death is always near very real with only ever having your weapon as a constant companion.Score: 7/10