That is not to say that fairy tales do not exist in the modern world, with stories ranging from Squid Game to BoJack Horseman being regarded as modern fables by some critics. In any case, it takes a certain amount of charm for a piece of media to successfully capture the feel of a fairy tale, and Samudra has plenty of it.
Samudra, developed by Indonesian studio Khayalan Arts, is an exceptional game from the region, one that tells an impactful story about mankind’s foibles and the deterioration of life beneath the surface of the ocean.
In Samudra, players take on the role of a young child who explores the depths of the ocean while dressed in a striped jumper and a diving helmet. A heavily polluted part of the sea greets the player as he or she dives deep into it, with even the murky seabed strewn with trash and other debris.
Throughout the game, Samudra does not speak a single word, allowing the player to learn everything through visual means alone. The visuals, which are reminiscent of a storybook, also perfectly capture the perilous conditions of the ocean and the dangers that lurk within.
The foreground and background both contain numerous layers of meticulous detail, which encourages the player to take a moment to stop and take it all in. There are numerous sights to behold, ranging from plastic bags floating around the game world to an entire airplane that has become submerged.
You might have thought the presentation was straightforward, but the controls and gameplay are just as straightforward. Moving left and right, as well as accessing an action button, are the only controls available to the player. In this game, the action button is used to activate almost everything, and the player is given no clues as to what to do next other than pictographic speech bubbles to guide them.
Even with a straightforward control scheme, Khayalan Arts was able to cram a diverse range of gameplay styles into Samudra’s limited space. Throughout the game, players will encounter quicktime events, stealth-based platforming, chase sequences, and even Bioshock-style pipe puzzles that must be completed in order to advance.
Players will also come across a diverse range of characters, from a kraken-sized mermaid to business suit-wearing villains who are virtually unbeatable in their quest for victory.
You might not enjoy Samudra’s gameplay if you’re not a fan of point-and-click adventure games, which is understandable given the game’s premise. However, despite Samudra’s high level of action, the game takes a lot of cues from games such as Another World or the early Prince of Persia games, in which in-game actions are more contextual and are not completely dictated by the player.
Aside from that, there are hidden collectibles to be discovered throughout the game. Players can pick up and pet the bioluminescent sea bunnies, which glow in the dark. There are also common household items trapped in bubbles to collect, which can be quite entertaining. These all require players to stray from the beaten path, which provides an incentive to go off the beaten path, but the game can become unresponsive if the player attempts to go backwards.
All in all, Samudra is a fantastic game that not only helps to raise awareness about a worthy cause, but also helps to fund it, as all of the proceeds from the game are channeled into year-round collaborations with the Indonesian environmental activist community.
If you’re looking for a game with a fantastic story, beautiful artwork, and engaging gameplay, Samudra is now available on Steam for purchase.
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