Throughout most of its lifetime, the video game industry has used elements from novels and films, involving the presentation of important characters, events, storylines, and motivations. Many of these pieces of information have been explained through dialogue and extensive texts of exposition for better or worse. With Sea Bed, developers Paleontology aims to express the story and characters of their game through the format of a Yuri-styled visual novel. At its core, Sea Bed provides an interesting mystery to uncover. It provides a storyline with some interesting characters, some fun relationships, and some interesting plot points, but it stumbles and falls too many times.
The story is told from the perspective of three central protagonists; Mizuno Sachiko is a designer working a company, who is haunted by the memories of her lover. Nagasaki Hibiki is a scientist who studies the nature of memories, and Sachiko’s former girlfriend Takako, who cannot keep on track with her past. As explained before, the direction in which Sea Bed presents its story more as a novel instead of a computer game. Throughout it, the plot is told entirely through text that describes the actions and sensations of the characters, along with their monologues and dialogue. As the text reaches the bottom of the screen, the text vanishes to make room for the next wall of text to appear. The game’s take on storytelling is somewhat questionable. It seems to appeal mostly towards readers due to its entirely text-based narrative. The game tells far more than it shows and plays, and this could be considered both its strength and weakness. The game provides some plotlines that are interesting to watch, and the protagonists manage to be relatable and enjoyable to follow. the relationship between Sachiko and here friends, especially Takako, work well as they help to connect you more towards these characters. Despite these points, it’s difficult not to be worn down by the game’s pacing. many events and conversations are executed for an extensive amount of time and any intrigue can quickly run dry as nothing from a particularly interesting standpoint occurs. The tedium of these events also relates to the game’s length, which could reach up to 30 hours. Reading texts from a game for around this amount of time eventually becomes a chore. Reading it as a novel isn’t exactly the problem but the format begins to feel increasingly more unnecessary, as you might think it could work considerably more as a novel than a game. The mystery that unfolds throughout the story adds some more intriguing moments and strive to keep reading can increase, but overall, the story and conversations between character are ultimately not what will stick with me, as they are bogged down by bland sequences of dialogue.
Sea Bed’s dialogue and writing are accompanied by background images that are used to visualise the locations of which the characters are. These would vary between a beach and a city street. Initially, they can come off as rather distracting since their blurred style can be difficult to fully make out and they don’t always match well with the character models. However. as time progresses, they begin to show some of their flares and display some beautiful scenery, which manage to indulge the player in the situation at hand. These backgrounds also use audio to match with real-world sounds like ocean waves and cars beeping on the streets. The game’s use of audio helps to add an extra layer of liveliness and prevents events from becoming even more bland, helping players to overall become more engaged in what is happening.
Character models use a style reminiscent of anime and take up the centre of the screen. for the majority of the time, their presence on-screen helps improve the realism each moment and conversation since you can fully see them for what they are. their faces also occasionally shift to show their attitude towards a certain topic or question. While these animations are tiny, they are at least serviceable and manage to convey each character’s expression. they manage to make the characters, visually, more relatable since if they didn’t have them, they may react the same way with all events, both good and bad.
In addition to the backgrounds and audio, the game is accompanied by a score, used to audibly describe the mood of each situation and enhance the tone of the story, along with the character models and backgrounds. Some of these tunes are effective and manage to immerse you in the moments. In contrast, however, some other tunes come off as distracting. the music that plays during conversations with Narasaki, for instance, become off-putting due to the instruments used and their pace. Overall, the soundtrack is inconsistent and can make even the game’s most tiresome moments be better than they could have been, while others do more to harm conversations more than they help them.
There is a lot to take in with Sea Bed but most of it succumbs to tedium. It contains some enjoyable characters and relationships, and the mystery that unfolds brings some memorable moments to the game. But unfortunately, these moments are too few and far between to make Sea Bed a truly enjoyable experience, which it did have the potential to be. Sea Bed is on many occasions, a beautifully crafted love story, that boasts strong characters and effective storylines but with mostly dull conversations, and a direction that feels unsuited for a video game format It, unfortunately, comes off as a disappointing experience that could have been much better than it already is. I think players will definitely find aspects to adore about it as I did, but it’s difficult to recommend it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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