Sea of ​​loneliness originally debuted in 2019, and later earned a nomination for “Games for Impact” from The Game Awards and winning the “Most Significant Impact” at the 2020 Games for Change Awards, among other awards, recognitions. The stylish and heartfelt adventure game comes from Jo-Mei Games and the writer / director / creator. Cornelia geppert in what she called “the most personal game I’ve ever made.” The 2019 version was released by EA, but a new director’s cut released by Quantic Dream, exclusively for Nintendo Switch, refreshes the title and brings it to a whole new audience.

Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut features “new enhancements and extras, such as a new voice acting, a new script, a photo mode, and other novel ways to experience Kay’s emotional journey.” As the official synopsis says, Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut “Follow the journey of Kay, a woman turned into a monster by her own loneliness and despair, who travels through a beautiful flooded world in search of serenity and inner peace. On this journey, she will face metaphorical beings evoked by her own personal emotions, which she will have to overcome in order to learn more about herself and the world around her. ” And not only will you accompany Kay on that journey, but you will guide her through it and perhaps experience a very personal journey yourself. I certainly did.

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Before I dive into my review, take a look at the latest trailer for Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut to get an idea of ​​the game:

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Additionally, to encourage interaction with your Twitch chat, Quantic Dreams has included the “Bottle of Hope” Twitch extension for people who play this game on Switch. It wasn’t operational at the time I was playing it, but you can see how it works in this teaser:

Like the new release Model, which I also played and reviewed this week, Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut it is more of an experience than a traditional game. Yes, they both have puzzle aspects that you must solve to advance. But they also have a distinctive style that is impossible to separate from the story itself. And both are loaded with heavy narrative and thematic material that could hit you at your very core, or at least the most vulnerable parts of your psyche. (While I recommend playing both games, maybe give each one its own time to breathe, lest playing them in succession reduces you to a shaky, crying mess.) Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut is that, while this may be a very personal and cathartic story for Geppert, the universality of its content and its message makes it easy to identify for anyone who reads it.

And now that it’s on the Switch, it’s literally easier to learn than ever. Not much has changed when it comes to the gameplay or the visuals here; The Switch has added a photo mode and the ability to track flares (which protagonist Kay fires as a sort of compass, guide, or defense mechanism), and the revamped voice cast and cut scenes help solidify that emotional connection. between the player. Kay and her supporting characters. (Me and my Twitch chat particularly loved the friendly seagull that followed us across the titular sea.) While playing it in docked mode to enjoy the wonderful and sometimes visual nightmares on my TV, the simple and basic controls make it perfectly suitable for the portable version.

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Image via Quantic Dream, Jo-Mei

The story, on the other hand, is not as light and breezy as the playstyle can be. You are introduced to Kay, red-eyed and covered from head to toe in what appear to be thick black feathers, in a small boat amid the stormy sea of ​​the title. An unusual choice for a video game protagonist, one who is all too often brilliant, brilliant, strong, and capable of dealing with all manner of adversity. Kay is … not that. It is clear that Kay is in a difficult situation and needs help from both the player and the characters you meet along the way. But the real questions here are, can you trust them? Can you even trust yourself?

Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut puts a fine point on that question as Kay explores her relationships with her family members, her friends and romantic relationships, and the various aspects of her own personality. He’s not very subtle about any of this. You can see the connections from a mile away thanks to the similarity between Kay’s appearance and that of the various monsters that lurk in the flooded world. They come to symbolize not only the people in his life, but also his fears, his guilt, his regret, loneliness, anger, etc., in the same way as Pixar Inside out anthropomorphize these intractable emotions. It is just that SoS: TDC He does so with a sharper edge and fearless approach to plumbing the depths of human despair.

Image via Quantic Dream, Jo-Mei

To be perfectly honest, I expected Sea of ​​loneliness to go much darker with his final conclusion than he did. I’m glad you didn’t, and that’s not to demean or belittle the severity of the mental illness, the feeling of isolation even in a crowded room, the struggles with bullying, the suffering from the parents’ divorce. with only feelings of helplessness, and the ever-present fear that he will never ever be good enough. That’s all very very real and very, very dark (and hits very, very close to home.) Sea of ​​loneliness it could have entered and surpassed those dark depths simply for impact value, but thankfully, it didn’t. There is a light at the end of Kay’s journey, as much as there is a light in every step of it, and there is also hope, redemption and restitution.

Though Sea of ​​Solitude: The Director’s Cut is a relatively short and quick game of about 4 hours (unless you find all 39 collectible bottles and remove the other achievements from the game), it is also a bargain at $ 20. It is a rare experience that allows players, strangers, in Actually, everyone delving into a very intimate story, deep down, in such an elegant and emotionally resonant way. So while it’s pretty simple when it comes to puzzles and might have increased the difficulty of the challenges along the way, Sea of ​​loneliness it’s more about the narrative journey than the mastery of mechanics. I, for my part, consider myself much better for having taken it. (And I wouldn’t mind going on a new journey in the Sea of ​​loneliness if that post-credits scene is a sign of things to come …) Check out the director’s cut now if you missed this one-of-a-kind gem the first time.

Grade: B-

Image via Quantic Dream, Jo-Mei

Sea of ​​Solitude: Director’s Cut is available for Nintendo Switch for $ 19.99 / € 19.99 digitally through Nintendo eShop. There is also a free demo available for download, which immerses the player in the first chapter of the game. A limited and exclusive physical edition of the game is available from the official Quantic Dream eStore for $ 29.99 / € 29.99, containing the game cartridge and an exclusive sticker.

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