I was looking through new titles on Steam today and came across In the Darkness of the Sea, a short 2-D narrative game offered free of charge. So, what is this free to play game all about?
The product description for In the Darkness of the Sea reads as follows:
A boy wakes up in a lifeboat, lost at sea. What he’ll see, he will never forget.
As its boat is carried away by the current, he’ll have to avoid the sea creatures and brave a powerful storm.
I copied this from the games Steam page because in my opinion, there really isn’t much in the way of a story here. I am going to leave this section unrated as story plays no role in this game other than to set up the scenario.
The gameplay for In the Darkness of the Sea consists almost exclusively of you, the nameless protagonist, alternately drifting and rowing your lifeboat (after you pick up an oar). You will have to try and avoid whales and such by slowing or reversing your rowing, and will also have to duck to avoid flying fish. Failure to do so results in a “death”, restarting you at the most recent checkpoint (the checkpoints aren’t obvious, but the game is short enough for this to be of no real concern).
At a certain point in the game, you will pick up a lantern, which is fortuitous as you enter a storm immediately afterwards and can only see the brief bit of light from the lantern illuminating the bow of your boat. During this storm, you will navigate high and tumultuous waves, rising and falling as the waves do. This is the most difficult section of the game as you will need to keep your boat from capsizing or breaking apart by adjusting your rowing to accommodate the motion of the ocean, so to speak.
You will lose your oar towards the end of the storm and will simply drift to the ending of the game.
I felt the minimalism in gameplay was actually ideal for this game and was handled well.
8 out of 10
The audio tracks in In the Darkness of the Sea were nice and the sound effects were not only consistent with the theme, but also served to warn you of impending danger thus functioning as an important gameplay element.
7 out of 10
In the Darkness of the Sea featured some really, really nice graphics. I would say they had a sensibility similar to Limbo, but also distinctly unique. I really thought the use of black and white to help convey emotion in the game was very well done and this was probably my favorite element of In the Darkness of the Sea
9 out of 10
In the Darkness of the Sea as a free to play title is well worth your attention. It took me about 20 minutes to complete my voyage and the game kind of closed out on a little cliffhanger. I expect to see quite a bit more from the developer, Olivier LeClair, in the future, and will be looking for his future projects. Give this game a whirl. I think you will find it to be a pleasing experience.