Sea of Solitude (“SoS”) was first released to PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2019, but now we see it released as a Director’s Cut on the Nintendo Switch. The red-eyed Kay, who sees her own self as a monster, is our protagonist in SoS. Her brother is being bullied, her parents always fight, and her entire life is in upheaval… and she’s taken the weight of all of this on her own shoulders. Her own romantic relationship isn’t the healthiest. And when the game shows us these characters, they are depicted as monstrous creatures.
With a relatively short narrative, the run time of SoS: The Director’s cut is about 3 to 4 hours. The gameplay is nice and varied as you can be exploring rooftops by foot or steering a boat through the world of submerged houses while avoiding corrupt souls or dark monsters or solving simple puzzles to dispel the dark forces in the world around you. Probably the most challenging gameplay is when you are being pursued by the varied monsters and bullies. Finding the safest route past them isn’t always easy, but necessary to get to slivers of light needed for combat, or to get completely to safety. One minor mistake and you’re surrounded, the screen gets darker. Thankfully if you fail, and you will, their checkpoints are fairly merciful in this game so you won’t lose much progress. The rest of the game is a piece of cake, figuratively of course. The story and direction are linear, but you also have help from some handy flares should you get lost or stuck trying to find your next objective.
New to The Director’s Cut is a customizable photo mode. For those that like these modes, there are some excellent photo opportunities nearly every step of your way through the game. The visuals seem almost gauche or awkward at times. There is a stark contrast between dark and light, but we also see Kay trying to keep afloat in a world submerged in water. Depression is the theme, and the visuals do a good job of portraying what Kay is feeling. But just as in the real world, there are those around her who are also having problems. But Kay may be able to find some happiness in helping others.
Replayability isn’t very high for the game, unfortunately. With the game’s story arch over fairly quickly, you’ll find very little to do. There are birds to shoo and bottles to find (which you should really find as you are playing through the story as they contribute to it). But after about an hour and a half, I found myself a little less enthused about the game. And it only continued to dwindle. I pushed on because, that’s what I need to do, but I just stopped having fun at a point and it really started to feel like the job. Even with a depression theme, I doubt this is what they were aiming for.
If you’ve got a couple of hours to play through and you really enjoy narrative-focused, relaxed gameplay, then this is a game to check out. Be ready to have your emotional heartstrings played like a harp though as you learn more of the story, it’s just the gameplay between is something lacking.
3 out of 5.