If there is one thing I love about indie games, it’s the ability for someone to turn a personal story into a game so that the world can experience their vision. EA has been funding some smaller games that would otherwise be indies such as Unravel but Sea of Solitude is the first one of their games that isn't simply an indie game, but truly an indie vision at its best. It may not be the biggest hit, but boy is it important.
Sea of Solitude has the protagonist Kay waking up in a boat. She is a black and fuzzy monster that for the most part looks like a girl; unlike the monsters she soon discovers. Initially she is tormented by an underwater monster that swims around saying some mean things letting Kay feel worthless. In the early stages of the game she is trying to get to where her trusty glowing orb is guiding her as she tries to avoid being eaten by the monster.
As the game progresses, she confronts more monsters who are all representations of her family and friends, who all possess many bigger forms such as a wolf or chameleon. These monsters seem less like they want to eat Kay and far more like they fear her by acting defensively. Each monster has a story to tell and their own burdens. As Kay tries to free these people of their monster forms, she discovers her role in their torment, and in doing so also frees herself from those demons.
The game itself is a simple puzzle game. Most of the early game has Kay driving her boat to semi submerged structures and trying to find a way to cross them or swim between them while making sure the monster swimming around her doesn't get close enough to eat her. As the game progresses, she spends more time on her feet trying to get through stages in buildings or around snowy constructs, but the general gist is that she needs to find memories, removing their corruption so she can connect and heal her loved ones.
Aside from the trusty ability to jump and swim, Kay is armed with a flare. For the most part firing the flare shows Kay the direction she needs to travel. The flare also kicks in with the closest things to battles where hitting an orb causes a wave to disperse either incapacitating enemies or turning them into blue good ghost like things. The gameplay itself isn’t overly unique, but it is functional and fun enough to keep making your way through the story continues at a reasonable pace. Only two bosses posed a challenge for me, the first it took me a bit to realise what I needed to do, and the other was genuinely challenging enough for a few retries, but not hard enough to be overly frustrating.
What the game has done better than most is its aesthetic. The game uses a striking cell shaded style without the cells, like Breath of the Wild’s style. This makes the game an absolute treat to look at while you are dealing with the emotional blows it hits you with regularly. The animations, especially things like the sea foam.
On the whole Sea of Solitude is one of the best-case scenarios when it comes to a small indie game. It looks beautiful, plays well, and tells a personal story that deserved to be told, while being short enough to not overstay its welcome. If you can handle being reminded of how you are a failure, then this is an absolute must experience.