Last week, I wrote about five new indie Switch games that deserve your attention. One of the games I was most excited about was Saltsea Chronicles. Since penning that piece, I’ve played the game and am eager to share my thoughts on the journey!
Saltsea Chronicles is a point-and-click narrative adventure, exploring the colorful islands of the Saltsea Archipelago. Developed by indie Danish studio Die Gute Fabrik, which previously released Mutazione, Saltsea Chronicles is a tale of treachery, love, and soul searching. The story put me on the edge of my seat, and I didn’t want it to end.
The Art and Music in Saltsea Chronicles Are Fantastic
Saltsea Chronicle’s colorful print-inspired art style is what first drew me to the game. Its beautiful visuals impress throughout the experience. In addition, the music is glorious and sets the tone for the story. One of my favorite tunes is from a cutscene that plays when you sail to an island—it’s so cute, it reminds me of a television show’s opening credits.
Despite Saltsea being a beautiful game, I was disappointed at the start screen’s lack of character and beauty. While it’s not a critical matter, I would have expected it to reflect the game with vibrant colors and cheerful music. Great video game start screens build hype for the game, and it would’ve been nice to see more effort in this area.
Set Sail on an Epic Investigation
The story revolves around the overnight disappearance of the young Captain Maja on the island of Njarfie Roust. All you know is that she left on a ship with indigo sails; it’s up to you to figure out if she was kidnapped or if she left by choice.
Together with her crew of misfits, you explore the post-flood world of the Saltsea Archipelago in search of Maja. As you explore new islands, each with its own unique characteristics, you will meet new NPCs who will provide you information to aid in your investigation. Along the way, some of your new friends will even want to join the crew once you discover that they have a missing friend as well.
Discover the Colorful Saltsea Archipelago
The player controls the pacing of the story. It’s up to you to decide how deep you investigate and which of your crew members you want to lead the way. Throughout the story, you’ll learn more about your crew and Captain Maja herself—who, despite initial appearances, may not be quite who you thought she was.
I had a great time exploring the Saltsea Archipelago and found the story to be engaging, with many twists and turns. While your decisions don’t have a heavy impact on the plot, they still have enough of an effect to make things interesting. The game is unpredictable in the best ways; I didn’t know what to expect each time I visited a new island.
During my time playing Saltsea Chronicles, I felt cozy and comforted by a heartwarming story, with friendship and love at its core. I do want to provide a content warning, though, as the story does cover the subjects of death and grief.
Get To Know Your Crew and Their Backstories
In Saltsea Chronicles, Captain Maja’s crew consists of Stew, the mom of the group; Murl, the historian; Iris, a radio prodigy; and Molpe, Maja’s partner and the mother to baby Ade. While the crew doesn’t know each other well, that changes throughout your journey. Both the crew and new contacts are a diverse bunch, with non-binary representation and same-sex couples.
When learning about the crew, there are small relationship side quests, called Issues, which tell you about tensions between characters. These Issues may eventually resolve, progress, or have to be left unsolved. There is also an achievement system, which notifies you at the bottom of the screen during random events. Unfortunately, besides these notifications, there is no menu to view your past achievements or ones left to be accomplished. It would be great to see this feature in an update.
Scrapbooks and Spoils: Perks of Saltsea Chronicles
Throughout Saltsea Chronicles, you can track details from your investigation in Murl’s Log. This Log can be viewed at any time, in case you need to be refreshed on where you left off. Even more interesting is the Almanac, which tracks other details from your journey through the use of stickers. In it, you’ll find scrapbook-like memories of NPCs you’ve met, island critters, gifts traded, and more. This was one of my favorite gameplay features; I always looked forward to adding to my Almanac.
On most of the islands you visit in the archipelago, you will find a group of NPCs playing a card game called Spoils. NPCs on different islands may play different versions of the game, and your crew will have a chance to join in if you so desire. Saltsea Chronicles provides a great tutorial system to help you learn Spoils. If you have any difficulties, the game will recognize this and give you hints while playing. While I only played Spoils a couple of times, it was pretty fun and easy to win. What’s more, if you’re in the mood to only play Spoils, you can easily do so directly from the main menu. It’s a great addition for someone who wants more interaction within the story.
Replay the Story for Different Results
Saltsea Chronicles takes around eight to 10 hours to complete, depending on your play style. Since the player controls much of the storyline, you can take faster or longer depending on how deep you investigate, the choices you make, or even how fast or slow you read.
When I reached the end of the story, I had only completed 64% of my Almanac. Even after finishing the story, you can go back and replay a specific chapter and make different decisions. You can even move a chapter to a different save file if you’d like. These are thoughtful choices that improve the quality of life for the player.
For a game with considerable replayability, it is priced reasonably at $24.99. However, if you only plan on playing through once, I’d recommend waiting for a sale as the story is a bit short for the price.
Saltsea Chronicles Falls Just Short of Perfection
Journeying through the story in Saltsea Chronicles was relaxing and fun, but the game’s not flawless. First of all, the ending felt abrupt, but it’s very possible that could change with a second playthrough. Without spoiling, Saltsea Chronicles felt like it could have gone on just a tad longer as I was left with so many questions.
Aside from what felt like an unfinished ending, there were a couple of typos within the game—something I was hoping not to see in a title of this quality. Additionally, I did run into a small glitch where I was stopped by an NPC and couldn’t do anything. There was an easy fix by saving and going to the main menu and back, but nonetheless, it was an unnecessary occurrence. Overall, the game is still absolutely worth your time and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery.
Final Thoughts: Is Saltsea Chronicles Worth Playing?
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Saltsea Chronicles and will happily play through it again. I’m interested in finding out what else the story holds based on decisions I didn’t make in my first run. I loved meeting new characters and learning about their backgrounds—it’s so easy to root for them and their happiness.
If you’re a fan of narrative games with an unpredictable yet heartwarming story, then Saltsea Chronicles is perfect for you. It’s a must-play cozy game and feels like a perfect bedtime story. I loved my time with the game, and it is so worth your time and attention.
Saltsea Chornicles, developed by Die Gute Fabrik, was released on October 12, 2023, for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PC, and Mac.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.