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Saltsea Chronicles Review (PS5) – A Thoughtful Journey Across The Open Ocean

Saltsea Chronicles Review (PS5) – Presenting a classic point-and-click adventure game with some unique angles, Saltsea Chronicles is a charming return to a genre that has largely gone untapped in the last few years. With an eclectic cast of unique characters and a healthy dose of intrigue to pull you along, I was engaged from beginning to end with the ragtag crew you work with.

A delightfully unique approach to visuals and plenty of charming character interactions made for a story that felt as it had as much depth as it did in its scope, and I look forward to seeing where alternate paths can take me.

Saltsea Chronicles Review (PS5) – A Thoughtful Journey Across The Open Ocean


Hoisting The Sails

Saltsea Chronicles begins by introducing you to the main cast that you’ll be spending your time with throughout your journey. Each character has a unique personality and reasons to want to journey with you. And each one gets plenty of time in the spotlight as you explore each island and discover information. From the studious and uptight Murl to the introverted and anxious Iris, each member brings their own charm to the motley crew.

The game opens with the basic premise of searching for your missing captain. After being briefly introduced to her, she vanishes under mysterious circumstances. These circumstances are what drive you to start your odyssey across the sea and visit various islands across it. The premise is easy to understand and frames a narrative focused both on the journey as well as the inner journeys of the characters.

What’s more, this crew grows steadily from chapter to chapter. You’ll start with a handful of members before growing out and recruiting people from all across Saltsea. Each one brings new wrinkles to the table and may bring their own baggage with them – both literally and metaphorically.

To say more about the narrative and the moments throughout would be saying far too much, and taking away from your own time with the game.

Talking With The Locals

Much of your time in Saltsea Chronicles will be spent navigating various different panoramas of the islands you visit. Areas of interest are highlighted for you to interact with and these can range from flavour text to new characters. Each line of dialogue has been meticulously written to be entertaining and heartening all at once.

Much effort has been put into packing each island full of small details that really help to sell that each location you visit is a place where people live their own lives. This works in conjunction with the outstandingly vibrant and unique visual style to make for a memorable time.

It will be up to you to decide which two members of your party will be best suited to going out on expeditions to talk with the residents of the island. Each one has different skills to bring to the table, you’ll have to consider different languages and personalities to get what you want out of your quests.

Rough Waters

It won’t always be smooth sailing for you and your crew either. Issues can bubble and boil beneath the surface, impacting the way that various characters interact with one another. This adds a nice sense of depth to each interaction that you take part in and incentivizes you to keep morale as high as you can.

Under certain circumstances, members of the team can snap at one another or require help with an issue. How you choose to handle these issues can have an impact on the story and how these characters communicate and I found this to be a really compelling addition that added a great sense of weight.

The relationship between various members runs deep, with a history that is open to be explored by players should they choose to do so. I found enjoyment in seeing how each member bounces off one another.

This ties into the main pull of Saltsea Chronicles – you control the entire crew at the same time. Rather than taking control of a single member of your choosing, it is up to you to carefully decide who needs to do what and when they need to do it.

Thoughtful Responses

When responding to a question in the field, you may be given the opportunity to respond with either member of your squad. Depending on who you choose to have an answer may have an impact on the relationships between you and the island that you are on and whether the interaction is successful.

While this system is innovative and had me engaged as I tried to work out what option might be best, I did feel like some of these options were perhaps a bit too vague for their own good.

I occasionally selected a character and was caught completely off guard by how they responded and ended up feeling disappointed with the outcome. While some mistakes were down to me not knowing my crew well enough, I felt that clearer communication could have gone a long way here.

Some prompts were vague emotional ones that left me pondering over how exactly the conversation would proceed and I don’t feel like this uncertainty enhanced my experience as I went on. I managed to get myself into more than one negative situation because a member of the crew acted in an off-colour way when I hadn’t meant for them to.

Distractions Ahoy

Despite the clear focus on narrative that runs throughout Saltsea Chronicles, there are plenty of additions that enhance the experience of crossing the sea, and help to make it into a far more interactive experience.

Not every interaction is important to the story, and there’s an incredible amount of worldbuilding spread throughout that adds wrinkles to each NPC’s life and culture. From regional dialects to the delicacies that can be found on each island, each one felt full of life. A helpful glossary aids in understanding these customs and sells the idea that each island is really part of its own world.

There’s also a unique card game that has been baked into the game. This game has absolutely no bearing on the main narrative but I found myself hooked to the game for hours once I began to understand the rules. (As any good card game should do!).

This minigame was a great pace breaker and an injection of gameplay in a game that is largely focused on the traditional point-and-click formula. By the time I had my fill of the card game, I was ready to return to the oceans and set sail once again onto new horizons. (And to find the next island with a new set of house rules.)

Saltsea Chronicles is now available on PS5.

Review code kindly provided by the publisher.

Score

8

The Final Word

Saltsea Chronicles is a great point and click adventure game that does a fantastic job at capturing the spirit of the classic genre. An intriguing story with an endearing cast of characters does a great job at encouraging players to experiment and explore the various interactions that are open to them. The ambition of this scope occasionally leads to some cracks but these are generally fleeting moments of annoyance in a game that was otherwise a quaint and comfortable experience throughout. Saltsea Chronicles was a refreshing excercise in a game that encourages taking your time with the story you are given, rather than a rollercoaster from setpiece to setpiece.