Originally released in 2017, Embrace of Ocean: Story of Hope is the hard work of a small European studio, Aves Games, that finally launches on Steam.
Over a hundred years in the future, with planet Earth overrun by water, humanity prospered beyond today’s possibilities, surviving in space and underwater cities. Although the main knowledge assumes a massive asteroid collided with Earth, some recent discoveries point towards a different reality.
We play as Blue Hope, a young woman whom, after receiving a message about her father disappearing, quickly travels to his last seen location; City of Pearl, the perfect example of humanity’s progress living underwater. Her father, Mr. Blue is a respected scientist, and close friend of the local Mayor. However, as young Ms Hope searches for clues, strange encounters and misleading evidence may prove an unpredictable turn of events. What really happened to her father, and what caused him to disappear?
Embrace of Ocean: Story of Hope is a thrilling mystery adventure, with a good storyline that is well worth your time. The narrative is on par with many other games, with a decent plot to follow, and in a way, does a good job at keeping players motivated through the events. The world is well portrayed, with details, newspapers, and other factors that build and solidifies the story, events and history all around.
As gameplay goes, it might not be everyone's cup of tea, as It’s not your typical modern approach, and is much reminiscent of classic adventure games with Hidden Object elements. Players will quickly realize the mouse cursor does not identify areas of interest, instead, one must find them by clicking. Other interactions are displayed, but a large amount of them aren’t, and surprisingly, it doesn’t change much, as the whole game direction is quite fluid.
To follow on the journey, we have a map and a journal, but I feel those were included just because it’s tradition, and not essential. The map only works as a main story pinpoint location, to give a wide notion of the events. Fast travel between locations is not available. The Journal on the other hand, has just the main object written, and nothing else. It’s not possible to go through its pages either.
As expected, Hidden Object Scenes are available, in a very simple quantity, and players go through each scene once, although some are kept available to pick later objects as part of the environment, and not in a full search scene. The puzzles are interesting and entertaining. They surely are driven from many others we’ve seen, but are incredibly well integrated within the game’s style, which end up being very original in their own way.
Visually, there’s clearly originality, not only in the concept, but in the overall presentation. Character renders are somehow generic, not due to the 2D hand-drawn design, but more regarding their interaction. Maybe the art direction should have taken another approach, maybe a comic book style would suit favorably in this case. Locations and backgrounds are really well done, with some 3D aesthetics, and in some rare instances, we can spot that real objects were used as 3D models. It’s not a negative point, in fact, the quality stands out regarding environments, and even in the Hidden Object Scenes.
Cutscenes are also 2D using hand-drawn models, but they work well, and the animations are good! Overall, the visual presentation is quite good, and the only negative or I should say, less appealing factor, is the generic font used for in-game texting. It’s not a problem whatsoever, and it might sound like me complaining, but it just looks bland.
Technically speaking, Embrace of Ocean: Story of Hope could have been improved significantly. It runs at a native 720p, but upscaling just fine to 1920x1080 resolutions. However, for a 2017 game, there’s no excuse for a game to be locked at 30fps, and does nothing positive for the experience,as players notice a “slow-down”. Well, that slow down is the framerate! The lack of settings don’t help much either, and those could come in hand.
Voice overs are included for every character that interacts with the protagonist, and their work is pretty much average but very welcoming. The soundtrack is minimalistic but provides a couple of interesting neo-classic melodies!
With intuitive and fun Mini-Games that range from easy to medium difficulty, this 3 hour adventure is definitely recommended, but only if you are willing to accept the 30fps experience. Nonetheless, a fun adventure with a great storyline, events and well built plot.