Dead Sea

Dead Sea isn’t a game that was half-assed.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it was good, but actual effort was put into it.  So here’s my question: why the hell did the developer choose not to capitalize the letter “S” in the word “sea”?

See what I mean about sea? Si?

It doesn’t seem like it was done for style reasons.  It just seems like some kind of oversight on the developer’s part.  I see stuff like this a lot on XBLIG, and every time it happens I think the same thing: sloppy.  Like the developer simply did not give a shit while entering in the game’s information for the marketplace.  It really starts things off on the wrong foot, because if the developer put no effort into simply typing their game’s name, why should I believe they made an effort building the game?  Come on, Brave Men Games.  You made it this far.  Could you really not spare that extra fraction of a second it would take you to hold down the shift key before hitting S?

I actually tweeted about Dead Sea before I played it.  It looked bad, and people were anxious for me to sock it to it.  Sorry to disappoint my fans, but I don’t really have a lot of bad things to say about Dead Sea.  It’s not a good game or anything.  It won’t be making the leaderboard.  But it’s not horrible.  The idea is you’re a chick who is on a boat when your boyfriend whips out a ring and proposes OH SWEET JESUS LORD HAVE MERCY!!

.. or do I have to devour your immortal soul?

Yea, that fucking thing will be giving me nightmares for a while.

Anyway, no sooner do you agree to marry whatever the fuck that’s supposed to be when a shark knocks him out of the boat and gobbles him up.  She gets knocked into the water too, but the Sharks seem kind of picky and leave her to swim for it.  What “it” is or where “it” is at is never explained.  There is a compass, but it doesn’t tell you what direction to go.  The first time I played, I just swam in an arbitrary direction and ended up drowning.  As it turns out, you are supposed to swim north.  How I was supposed to know this, I’m not quite sure.  Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight.  I had just encountered what looked to be a love-struck zombie pimple cream ad.  To put this in perspective, I’ve walked in on my parents having sex.  There was chocolate syrup and whipped cream involved.  At least I hope it was chocolate syrup and whipped cream.  Either way, that was less traumatic than Mr. Undead Acne Man.

The concept behind Dead Sea is not bad at all.  But the gameplay is just so boring.  All you do is point yourself north and then alternate the trigger buttons at a slow and steady pace.  If you go too fast, you attract the attention of the sharks.  If this happens, you have to survive a quick-time event.  After that, you reposition yourself north and start alternating L and R again.  After a couple of minutes of this, you reach a buoy.  You tap a button to climb up it, and then survive a couple more quick time events.  Then you swim some more, reach a boat, watch the sharks do their best Free Willy imitation while doing more QTEs.  After a couple of those, a shark rams the bottom of the boat, splitting it in two.  Do they eat her when she’s in the water?  No.  Granted, I’m the same way with curry.  Seems good to smell and look at, but I’m always intimidated to taste it.

It has finally happened: Xbox Live Indie Games have sharked the jump.

After one final swim, you reach another boat.  All you have to do is button mash to throw a barrel and then do a three-sequence quick-time event to detonate it.  You win, game over.  Total time: ten minutes.  Fifteen tops.  Which is fine.  I don’t think I could have taken another fifteen minutes of Dead Sea.  Is the game terrible?  Not at all.  The gameplay mechanics work, and despite the literally cringe-inducing graphics, this is a fully functioning game.  The concept of an open-world game where you’re stranded in water trying to avoid sharks sounds great.  I just don’t know how it can be executed in an entertaining way.  Dead Sea certainly doesn’t do that.  I’m not sure how they could have done better, or if it’s even possible.  Points to Brave Men Games for trying, minus several more points for actual execution.  Also, I’m deducting 185,962 points for the opening cut scene.  Mind you, these are the guys who made Hell’s House, a game that was about as scary as a kitten.  But that dude?  He’ll scare the enamel off teeth.

Fuck this, I’m taking my chances with the sharks.

Dead Sea was developed by Brave Men Games

80 Microsoft Points wonder what would happen if you fired the land shark gun from Armed & Dangerous at the sharks in Dead Sea in the making of this review.  Shark on shark violence rules!

Gameplay courtesy of Aaron The Splazer.  He’s been providing these videos for the community for a while now.  Go follow him on Youtube.  He’s earned it.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

4 Responses to Dead Sea

  1. I find the idea of Dead Sea interesting. It’s something distinctly different, and that’s one of the great strengths of indie games. I was going to buy it, but it sounds like an exercise in tedium. Besides, at 10 minutes long you can play most of it in the demo. That’s never good.

  2. The Grumble says:

    Ah Armed and Dangerous. Such a good example of how to do comedy games.
    With Dead sea I’ve got a feeling the company might have laid the groundwork for another game, with a multiplayer component of sharks vs humans somehow.

  3. withalligators says:

    If it HAS sharks and it doesn’t have Sam Jackson getting chowed in it, I’m not interested in it.

  4. I feel that on some level the game is attempting humour, and perhaps referencing films like this. But fun is the #1 factor for many players, and you have to work hard to make swimming away from sharks fun. Maybe if you kept the boat and could drop depth charges or harpoon them? Or get them to miss and ram each other? Would love to hear back from the devs on this one, so I can understand more about the intention behind this.

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