By – Jarrett Riddle

Why Am I Dead At Sea Review He

Why are you dead at sea? That is the question. Another thing to ponder is what a game that features a deceased person as the protagonist could possibly be about. The answer to that is tricky, as it’s the spirit of the dearly departed that the player takes control of, not the corpse. With skeleton power, or perhaps afterlife mojo, you’re able to possess and read the minds of others to solve the mystery of who shot Johnny Rock, er.. You. This title is a direct sequel to the flash game Why Am I Dead and its excellent Rebirth remake.

Who are you, anyway? That’s another question. One that your ghostly self wants to solve as well. Upon awakening as a spirit, you find yourself aboard the SS Douce Amere. This so-called cruise ship is filled with ramshackle rooms, shady patrons, and a ton of mystery. It doesn’t take much conversing to realize that nothing is as it seems here, and the story behind your death is a long, twisted path.  How is your soul able to come back into this world? That can actually be answered. Paulo, the lone child on board, has psychic abilities and is able to call you back into the realm of the living. He doesn’t know your identity, but foresees something terrible happening soon and believes you may be able to help. That seems like a difficult task, seeing as you have no idea who you are or what to do. You only live once, though, so might as well hop in that kitty nearby and get to work!

Who let the cat out of the bag? Since your otherworldly form isn’t familiar with anything outside the room it was conjured in, other means of transportation will have to be sought after. So as you sit- well, float there, thinking of a way to leave, a meowing noise is heard from the corner. As you look to the fuzzy creature, a conveniently opened air duct is also spotted. Using a level of logic that even a feline could figure out, you take control of the fur ball and climb through the tiny space.

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Who else is on this boat? Alton, a young disc jockey responsible for providing the observation room’s music, is getting ready to check on his lady friend Xu in her room. Xu, a waitress for the ship’s dining hall, is upset because someone has broken into her quarters and made off with a vase she has high sentiments for. While possessing Alton, you and Xu roam the creaky corridors seeking information from the inhabitants about the theft. Among those questioned are aspiring author Quella, pet owner Garv, mysterious Donovan, direly depressed Darryl, and kitchen head Marcurio. There’s also the oddly chipper first mate, Ferdinand, and shy-girl-with-strange-past Gwen. Unfortunately, no one seems to have any idea about the break-in.

Back in Xu’s room, Alton gets a touch of the sniffles from his friend’s dusty environment and starts a sneezing fit. Meanwhile, Xu is still trying to figure out how the theft happened. More than mucus is exposed when Alton lets out his third achoo, however, and the waitress’s real nature becomes obvious. This personality reveal is the first of many complex interactions present in Why Am I Dead At Sea.  That sums up the introduction tutorial, which I believe does a superb job of both introducing the player to this strange setting and relaying information on how to play. With this blend of actual gameplay and story with instructions, figuring out how to progress further from this point becomes a piece of cake. If unsure of what to do next during the first sections of the game, Paulo acts as a hint system to even better acquaint the player to the game flow. You’ll surely be poltergeisting in no time.

Each of the guests aboard the ship have deep back stories, rational motivations, and dark secrets. Hardly anyone appears to be telling the whole truth at any time, and the ultimate destination or reason for such a run-down cruise vessel even existing is murky. Your death is far from the only mystery in the game, but clues about what’s going on will only be recovered by examining stowed away notes and ripping the cold hard facts from the more suspicious members of the crew. This is where our specter’s possession and mind reading skills become a vital tool and gameplay element.

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The key to uncovering the various conundrums is discovering and understanding the history and relationships of everyone. With just a small amount of information about what it is that makes someone who they are will grant you a partial, influential control of that individual. This means that you will be able to walk and talk as that person, but dialogue choices will be limited to how that particular perceives the situation. After acquiring more knowledge about them, you can take full control and leverage conversations toward what the protagonist is interested in finding out. So as Alton you may be able to ask Quella to come to the observation room when partially possessed, and about strange happenings when totally. Also, if someone is liked by a character being questioned, they might spill the beans about a less-than-admirable quality about themselves. This leads to that person being unlocked for further possession.

While the player may technically control one being in Why Am I Dead At Sea, being able to act as others and speak as if you were them truly gives the game a unique dynamic. While undeniably being in the adventure category, the body switching mechanic adds an almost role playing element to the mix, allowing the player to see the situation through the eyes of others. It’s actually a pretty incredible and somewhat paradoxical perspective in that you don’t feel like you know much about the passengers, yet in a way you are them.

Another feature that makes the characters more relatable is the mind reading ability. When this is used on someone, the player gets a glimpse of what’s going on in their head. This is all done with surreal animations, suiting music, and text describing the different things they’re wondering about. These can range from a dull, slow-moving gray screen for Darryl to a seemingly murderous, aggressive layout for Donovan that shakes about wildly. Mind reading isn’t just for show, either, as it can sometimes offer hints about what should be done next.

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On top of having unique thoughts and dialogues, each character also possesses their own useful skill. Abilities such as Xu’s knack for seeing what’s in peoples’ pockets, Gwen’s curiosity for peeping through keyholes, and Quella’s gift of gab can help you realize or speculate about others’ motives. Others, such as Alton’s MP3 player that changes the background music and Ferdinand’s portable intercom for the ship’s loudspeakers are mostly for show, but can offer a bit of comedic relief in an otherwise dreary setting.

Why Am I Dead At Sea offers up well-drawn pixel art with clean animation for both people and animals. As you progress through each day, the sun changes position and can be viewed from both the top deck of the ship and the observation room. There’s something sort of funny about the graphic style of the game: The combination of the retro setting with the in-depth character is akin to booting up an NES game and getting Mass Effect’s storyline. It’s definitely a different, and in my view, awesome blend.  The game offers many different common display resolutions, with a scaling option of original size or double. Controls are simple, using only rebindable keyboard keys for in-game navigation and the mouse for menus. Music and sound effect volumes can be tweaked as well.

I encountered several bugs during my time with the game, some game-ending. During one event where I’m guessing I was supposed to be in ghost form, I was instead in possession of the cat and the cutscene locked. Another time, one of the guests was supposed to unlock their door after leaving their room, but for some reason or another didn’t, leaving me barred from the essential area.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

Why Am I Dead At Sea is an adventure quite obviously designed and written with a lot of care. The possession and mind reading mechanics, along with the unique mix of retro graphics and complex, mature story, help this gem shine brightly amidst other mystery titles. I highly recommend this game to any fan of the genre, as well as those who enjoy being immersed in suspenseful, well-written narratives.

Why Am I Dead At Sea Technical Summary:

Why Am I Dead At Sea Review Sum

  • Time Played – 14 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • Windowed Mode – Yes
  • Resolution Played – 1920×1080
  • Bugs/Crashes Encountered – Several
  • DRM – Steam
  • System Specs – 3.7 GHz AMD A10-6700, 768MB Radeon 8670D, 8GB RAM
  • Control Scheme – M/KB
  • Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Steam
  • Demo – No
  • Saved Game Location – Steam\SteamApps\common\Why Am I Dead At Sea\saves
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