Call of the Sea VR Review – The Sea is Calling Once Again

Call of the Sea VR Review

Call of the Sea, released in 2020, was a game that stood out for its stunning visual design, captivating storyline, and engaging puzzles. Developed by Out of the Blue and published by Raw Fury, this puzzle-adventure game took players on a journey to an uncharted island in the South Pacific during the 1930s. Now we’ve been given the chance to revisit this great title on VR, and it’s just as impressive … almost. Despite some trade-offs in the move to the Oculus Quest 2, Call of the Sea VR is a solid title and worth the purchase.

The game’s story is centered around Norah, a woman searching for her missing husband, Harry. Norah’s journey begins when she receives a letter from him, after he has been missing for several months. The letter leads her to an uncharted and mysterious island in the South Pacific. There she discovers that Harry was searching for a location that might hold the cure for her own illness. As Norah begins to explore the island, she discovers clues. These help her piece together what happened to Harry and uncover the island’s secrets.

The original game’s visual design was breathtaking, as our reviewer at the time pointed out enthusiastically. Vibrant colors and detailed environments transported players to a lush, tropical paradise. Beautiful use of color and shadow made for a visually delightful playthrough. The game’s art style was also a strength, inspired by the Art Deco movement of the 1930s, and reflected in the game’s fashion and overall aesthetic.

Visually a Bit Flat

Unfortunately, in the move to the Quest 2, I’m sad to say that some of that visual appeal has been lost. It might be due to the technical limitations of the headset, but that lushness is somewhat lacking in VR. Shadows have been sacrificed in favor of a flatter, low-res look. Resolution is PS2-era level of quality, as is most evident when you get close-up to objects. Trees, leaves, crates, and other objects are best viewed from a distance in Call of the Sea VR. In fairness, the original was not a photo-realistic experience. But even with the stylized visuals, depth was achieved with detail, and it’s disappointing to not have that this time around.

I was impressed, though, by the game’s use of space in VR. Looking off in the distance, towering mountains loom over your head, and waterfalls plunge from unimaginable heights. Looking down from the top of cliffs or ladders, you’ll often get that rush (or nausea) of vertigo. It’s something only VR can really convey, and this game nails it. So in Call of the Sea VR, you do get the feeling that you are immersed in a vast and imposing environment. Just don’t look at anything too close.

Intricate puzzles and hidden secrets fill the island, all of which are well-crafted to keep players engaged and challenged. The game’s puzzles are challenging but never too difficult. There’s a good mix of logic and creativity required to solve them. Players must use their wits and exploration skills to uncover the island’s secrets and progress through the game. The puzzles range from decoding messages to manipulating objects to unlock hidden pathways. And each one is unique and satisfying to solve.

Challenging Puzzles

The difficulty can be a bit uneven. An earlier puzzle I solved with ease. But others had me pretty frustrated. There’s a helpful Hint feature that thankfully, can get you past many of the hardest parts if you’re stumped. But in a few cases, I spent an hour or more going back and forth, re-evaluating the scene to get the solution. In VR, this is much more grating than in a “normal” 2D title. Swiveling your head back and forth so many times can get on your nerves and give you a headache.

The actual implementation of VR is solid. But there were a few awkward moments related to reaching and manipulating objects. One big example is when I dropped something on the floor or ground. Even in the game’s “Seated” VR mode, I had a lot of trouble reaching down to pick something up. And this did happen a few times, as Call of the Sea VR requires you to pick up, move and examine objects quite often. Luckily, crucial quest-related objects automatically get added to your inventory when you hold them. So this technical issue was an annoyance but not game-breaking.

Call of the Sea

However, I’m glad to say that one of the original game’s most impressive features, its use of audio, is here in VR and better than ever. The voice acting and writing are excellent, bringing the characters to life and adding depth to the game’s world. Norah’s story, told mostly by her as you progress, is compelling and emotionally engaging, with twists and turns that keep players hooked until the very end. The game’s soundtrack is also noteworthy, with a hauntingly beautiful score that perfectly complements the game’s atmosphere.

Surround Sound

In the 3D environment of VR, all of this works as well as before, and even better. Sounds of insects, birds, waterfalls and other island elements are all around you. This enhances immersion and makes you feel like you are really on an island in the South Pacific. Norah’s dialogue can get repetitive but mostly it’s enjoyable and is a great way to unfold the narrative. Wearing headphones is highly recommended when playing Call of the Sea VR.

As for the game’s pacing, it is mostly good, gradually introducing new elements and mechanics as the player progresses through the game. Each new puzzle and discovery contributes to Norah’s story and character development. The only downside with the pacing is that, again, it can vary quite a bit over the course of your 6-8 hour play-through. Some parts move fast, but in many other parts, there’s a slow pace — maybe too slow sometimes. This of course depends on how quickly you’re able to solve puzzles and move the story forward.

Overall, Call of the Sea VR is a good port of a great game, that delivers a memorable and immersive experience. While it loses some of the stunning visuals of its progenitor, its engaging story and satisfying puzzles make it a game you’ll enjoy. Its use of VR is pretty good and it’s worth a replay if you’ve already finished the original. Despite its flaws, Call of the Sea VR is a well-crafted and enjoyable game that is sure to be a solid addition to your VR library.

** An Oculus Quest 2 game code was provided by the publisher **

The Good

  • Engaging story
  • Well-made puzzles
  • Good use of space and sound in VR

The Bad

  • Uneven pacing
  • Visual downgrade from original