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A long walk off a short pier

  • slash
  • 02/08/2014 06:40 PM
As I grow older and my free time grows shorter, I find myself desiring more "efficient" games. Games that get to the point, games that throw you in the action and don't overstay their welcome. However, some games can't be approached with such careless haste. They ask for your patience and they require your diligence, where the solutions are solved by persistence and not force. Lone Siren is a game that requires painful, diligent care.

The first thing you might notice about this game is the soft, colorful artwork, free of bold black outline. The art lends to the ambiance of the underwater setting, and is accompanied by a soundtrack of airy bells. As the game opens, the world is wide open and free to explore at your leisure, with few dangers to speak of, albeit getting lost. You are sent on a mission to recover eleven magical items, as good a reason as any to float through the large, mysterious areas.

A small reprieve from the hunt for magic items.

There is quite a lot of exploring to do. The underwater world is enormous and the items you're looking for are small and easy to pass over. Traveling becomes easier as you find characters that teach you new abilities, but these characters are also very easy to miss when navigating the winding caves. The game advertises itself as vague, but it feels more like utter indifference - there is no help to be found in your search. I frequently found myself combing through the same cave over and over, not knowing that what I really needed was an ability from a character I didn't know existed. While the beautiful style and music may keep you going, your quest becomes a slow struggle.

The epitome of this is the non-Euclidean hell titled the Interior Reef, a maze of connected holes. Each hole led to a separate section of the maze, and entering a hole you've just left sends you somewhere different entirely, making backtracking impossible. Finally each section of the reef has anywhere from two to five of these holes, and each section is painfully indistinguishable from the others. This is a great way to get a headache.

The beauty of the Interior Reef hides a befuddling tangle of tunnels

The game has several touching moments and a few unnerving ones, especially when you first enter the Palace, and the moments leading up to the true ending. However, these moments came few and far between and the frustrating search made them difficult to appreciate. If you a couple hours on your hands and want to explore a sad and cryptic universe, give Lone Siren a shot... but maybe bring a walkthrough.