Content Warning: Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut contains themes of bullying, emotional trauma, and suicide.
With the growing list of ways game developers label and approach the return of older titles, it is often hard to know precisely what one will be getting when they approach a rerelease of a game. Is it a remake or a remaster? Should I expect hours of new content or just some quality of life improvements in what is basically a port of an old game? These are fair questions for a consumer to have in mind as they approach a release like Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut. Well, you are in luck. I have played through this new version of one of my all-time favorites and am happy to lay out exactly what has changed and how I think it impacts the game.
Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut is a narrative-driven platforming adventure game developed by Jo-Mei Games and published by Quantic Dream. A young woman named Kay awakens adrift in a small motorboat amidst a storm-tossed sea. How she got here is unclear. Pursued and confronted by monsters, Kay must come to terms with not only her own struggles but those of the ones she loves as well. It will be a taxing journey filled with sorrow, pain, revelations, and ultimately hope.
When I first played Sea of Solitude way back in 2019, it took me on an emotional journey, the likes of which I had never before experienced before. Its emotionally-driven narrative, beautiful art style, earnest voice acting, and mesmerizing score all came together to deliver a game that not only garnered my Game of the Year for 2019 but also remains the only perfect score I have ever awarded a game. With the Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut on Nintendo Switch, I got the perfect opportunity to revisit this gorgeous game. I’m pleased to report that over the last two years, this magnificent experience has lost none of its luster.
When Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut was announced last year, its biggest selling points were a refined script along with new voice work, new gameplay exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, and a new photo mode. The most notable of these features is the voice work.
If you played the original, you will instantly notice the change in Kay’s voice. Originally voiced by Miriam Jud, Kaycie Chase now performs Kay’s voicework. While the change is certainly noticeable to anyone who has played the original release, I didn’t feel that Chase’s performance was any less emotional than Jud’s. The only thing that separates the two in my mind is that Jud’s performance felt a bit softer at some points, whereas Chase’s delivery is a bit more confident in others. Which one is better or worse, I feel, is purely a matter of personal preference.
Another element the announcement of Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut highlighted was a more refined script all around. While nothing in my playthrough stood out as noticeably different, it has been two years since I last played. That having been said, none of the changes were for the worse as all of the game’s emotional moments land just as perfectly as they did the first time.
Another new feature is the integration of the Switch’s motion controls. This comes into play when Kay fires one of her flares. If the player holds down the ZL button when they fire the flare, the camera will not only follow the flare to its destination, but the player can take control of it and steer it wherever they want. This can be done either with the left thumbstick or via motion controls. This new feature seems best suited for players who wish to gather all the collectibles scattered throughout the world. Rather than having Kay clamor over everything, you can use the flare as a small recon drone.
The final new feature that Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut sports is a photo mode. This photo mode allows players to grab some stills of their favorite moments in this gorgeous world. If you are one of the gamers that love to spend time getting that perfect shot, I’m sure this feature will add some time to your stay with Kay, particularly since post-game allows the player to return to any section of the game they want. You can easily pick and choose what area you’d like to do a photoshoot in.
While not a new addition per se, I was pleasantly surprised to see that achievements carried over from the original release. While Nintendo has no tracking system for such things, and I know that the general lack of an achievement system is often a disappointment for many when considering a game purchase on a Nintendo device, I still got a little smile when one of them would pop up on the screen for me.
The last thing that needs to be talked about is how the game handles the Switch hardware. Happily, the Switch seems perfectly capable of delivering Kays world with nearly uninterrupted smoothness. Only once that I can recall did my screen stutter during my four-hour playthrough. Otherwise, all the color and atmosphere of Kay’s world came through without a hitch.
When all is said and done, Sea of Solitude: The Director’s Cut is a magnificent version of one of my all-time favorite games. If you never got the chance to play it before, I can wholeheartedly endorse this version of the game. However, if you have already experienced the game for yourself, I doubt these changes bring enough to the table to warrant a second purchase unless photo mode is a huge draw for you.