‘Call of the Sea’ offers classic adventure vibes, alternative Lovecraftian approach

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

I remember reading a Reddit post back in middle school when I was going through a teenage phase of Lovecraftian horror works like “Cool Air” and “From Beyond” that made me put the fantastical works of H.P. Lovecraft into a whole new perspective.

Terror is existential, foreboding dread that belittles the viewer into hopeless fright. Horror is sudden, shocking, anxiety-inducing fear of sudden fright. Lovecraft horror is neither of these, and that’s what makes it so much scarier. Sheer, undefined, incomprehensible fear.

Now don’t worry, “Call of the Sea,” a 2020 adventure title by Out of the Blues games, is not a frightening experience, rather an excellent narrative puzzle title with an eerie yet fascinating backdrop of otherworldly horror. I was happy to have Tatiana Delgado, co-founder and creative director at Out of the Blue Games, speak with buzz Magazine to discuss the title and what went into crafting this charming adventure title.

buzz: How would you describe “Call of the Sea” to someone unfamiliar with it? 

Tatiana Delgado: “Call of the Sea” is an otherworldly tale of mystery and love set in the 1930s, South Pacific – a first-person game where you can explore a lush island paradise, solve puzzles and unlock secrets in the hunt for your husband’s missing expedition. It was born from our love of the adventure game genre. Games like “Myst” and “Riven” had a deep influence on us, and we wanted to create something inspired by those games but that could appeal to a broader audience of today. When we designed the puzzles, we wanted them to be integrated into the world as part of the environment. We want the players to observe, experiment, explore and understand how they work. Some of the puzzles will have to do with the expedition itself using the real-world technology of the era. In others, you will try to decipher what the ancient ruins were for or try to understand the defenses built by the islanders.

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    We are inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, although this is not a horror game but an adventure game. You will not find jump scares but instead a mystery and secrets to uncover. We wanted to keep the essence of the classic H.P. Lovecraft stories while at the same time giving it a different approach. Not a pulp one, like “Call of Cthulhu” tabletop RPG but not a cosmic horror either. So instead of having a passive subject that is drawn into madness by circumstances that he/she cannot control, our purpose is to tell a story of a resolute woman, involved in a mystery and a journey of discovery and acceptance. While most Lovecraft stories are a descent to madness, “Call of the Sea” is a rise to sanity.

    buzz: How long was the development cycle of  “Call of the Sea” from the first idea for the game to the release of the final product?

    TD: From pre-production to release, it was a year and a half with a team that ranged from 10 to 13 people. Also, we had the help of our publisher, Raw Fury, who took care of some tasks that are not as related to the development, and that helped us focus on the game. I think the whole team did an impressive job because we are a small team. Although this is our first game as Out of the Blue, the team average experience in the game’s industry is 10+ years.

    buzz: I loved the classic serial adventure atmosphere the game had. Were there any adventure movies you took as inspiration, such as 2005’s “King Kong”?

    TD: For sure! We took inspiration from adventure movies that were set in the 1930s. The lure of discovering old secrets, mysterious ruins with a hint of the occult just seems to fit perfectly in this decade. That is why another of our main inspirations is the adventures of Indiana Jones. Other authors who have influenced “Call of the Sea” are Jules Verne, William Hope Hodgson or Edgar Allan Poe (who was also a reference of H.P. Lovecraft himself). In many of the works of these authors – in addition to mystery and the supernatural – adventure and exploration of remote places also have great weight. On the other hand, both my partner Manuel and I come from the world of tabletop and live-action role-playing games as organizers, and we wanted to capture one of the adventures that you can find playing tabletop role-playing games and adapt it to this type of games. But in order to build the island and make it accurate, depicting the Polynesian culture in a respectful way, we hired Yunick Vaimatapako, director of the International School of Polynesian Culture Ia Ora Tahiti in Spain. He assisted the team and is really proud of the representation of his culture in the game.

    buzz: An aspect that caught me off guard was the music score. It was some seriously good stuff and added a lot to the adventure feeling. How did you implement it? 

    TD: We are lucky to have Eduardo de la Iglesia as a sound designer and composer. He has been working in the games industry for around 20 years, and I’ve worked with him on several projects. So that is why I knew he was the perfect fit for “Call of the Sea.” His music adds emotion to any scene and makes the other parts of the game shine. From adventure, happiness and love to mystery or melancholy.

    buzz: What is some advice you would give college students aspiring to be game developers? 

    TD: The best way to learn to make games is making them. We are lucky now that we have access to so many free development tools and online resources. The best way is to start doing small games because one of the most difficult things is to finish something, and it will help to learn how to control the scope of a project. Another thing I always recommend is to play any kind of game, not only the genres that you love. Even play games outside video games!

    “Call of the Sea” (2020) is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and PC.

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