Getting lost, Down in Bermuda - A review.


Are you tired of your boring life? Can’t stand the in-laws? Family too clingy? Job got you down? Tired of waking up early for the same old grind? Traffic sucks? Winter too cold? Pets won’t stop begging for your Hot Pocket? (Note to self, I need to make a better decision for dinner.)

Escape to the Bermuda Triangle! In the Bermuda Triangle, time has no meaning! Life has no meaning! GameStop stocks stay low like they should be! In a world where Cyberpunk was a huge commercial success! Where COVID-19 never struck! Okay… why am I living here and not there? I’ll question my existence later! Onto the review!



What is it? 

Down in Bermuda is a 3D puzzle adventure from developer Yak & Co, a small studio who also created the clever espionage puzzle game Agent A. Our story centers around a young man who gets trapped in - surprise! - the Bermuda Triangle. In the opening moments of the game, you see his plane flying erratically and falling toward the ground. When you gain control in the game he is an old man and mentions he’s been stuck there over 30 years. His memories are hazy but one thing pervades his consciousness - he needs to escape and go home.


Gameplay 

During the course of the game, you explore six different biomes. Each is drastically different from the last, and hides its own mysteries. Every level has our main character making friends and meeting strange people or creatures who help him move along his journey. You may even find yourself returning to earlier biomes because you discovered how to solve a secret in a later level!

Within each area, your objective is to use the controls (LB, RB & D-Pad) to rotate & move the biome in order to solve puzzles and locate hidden objects.


When you enter each area, you’ll watch a short cutscene and then be let loose. From there your goal is to meet cool folks, look for hints, collect stars and solve puzzles. The stars and orbs you collect allow you to unlock the door to get off of the current island and make the next one visible. The amount of orbs needed to open the exit to the next biome can vary from three to five. 

If you’re stuck, or just want a change of scenery, the game will allow you to unlock the next biome and play the levels out of sequence. I do not recommend doing this as you will skip sections of the story.




For the most part, as you progress through the different levels the puzzles feel distinct and refreshing. In terms of difficulty they cover a broad range. While at moments it may feel like a puzzle is too hard it is quite likely that you are just overlooking a clue needed to solve it.

Easier puzzles might ask you to do something simple like click or move a button, but harder puzzles might have you calculating cardinal directions without a compass. At times these more involved puzzles can be frustrating to deal with. This is especially noticed when a puzzle gives little feedback or remains interactive after you solve it, leaving you wondering if you actually got the intended solution. I spent 20 minutes thinking I didn’t solve a puzzle only to find out that the solution gave no feedback, only to realize I must have gotten it the first time. 

There’s a particular boss battle that comes to mind that was a nuisance because I couldn’t keep track of the way things were linked to each other. Luckily, Down in Bermuda is very forgiving when it comes to being stuck. There are no one-way paths, There is no failure of a puzzle without a reset, and it will let you leave a level at any time should you desire.




Down in Bermuda introduces Star Maps as a game mechanic early on and they prove to be a huge help. Star Maps provide an overview of the island with clues on where to find the collectibles. This is useful as many of the collectible items in the game blend easily into the environment. The Star Maps make it a much more casual-friendly experience, but don’t mistake it for dumbing down the game. This addition doesn’t make it EASY per se, just less frustrating.  Make sure to look at the island from EVERY angle and that you are checking every nook and cranny; If not you won't be finding many of the hidden objects and might even miss the solutions to some of the puzzles as well.


Can you spot the hidden objects & clues?
    Can you spot the hidden objects & clues?

I really love the clever ways that clues are integrated into the environment. Often you will run into a puzzle that needs symbols to solve it and they’ll be scattered around the nearby area. Other times you may need to interact with something close by.

The game is all about interactivity. Most objects, flora or fauna can be clicked or moved in some way - and in many cases should be! You never know when you’ll find a trapdoor or hidden character. 



Presentation 

The art is very reminiscent of Yak & Co’s other game, Agent A. The graphics have a bright, blocky and cartoony feel to them. Not so much like Minecraft blocky, but more like you’re interacting with a pop-up children’s book. The visual style is so very distinct that if I just saw this game, with no idea who made it, I would guess it was a Yak & Co game. 


Despite how far you zoom in or out the graphics are sharp and crisp. The environments feel like living beings. Plants sway in the wind, waves crash, rain falls from the sky and the character fidgets while standing idle. You can tell they put incredible attention to detail into each biome. There’s something going on in every section of every level.


Where the game stumbles is with the menu and the interface controls. As a native controller player I immediately felt like the game would play easier on a touchscreen. Once you get acquainted with how to move around the environments it’s not nearly as much of a nuisance as it initially seems. Unfortunately the controls never feel fluid even when you do get used to them. It doesn’t help that all of the controls aren’t explained - even in the controller map!


To move around each biome, the controls are the same. RT zooms in, while LT zooms out. Left Analog controls your cursor, while the right analog rotates the island. You pan the camera by pressing a direction on the D-Pad OR you can hold X and move around with the left analog. You can also rotate the camera using the left and right bumpers. 

You’ll have to figure out which method works for you, but I found my preferred controls were holding X to pan around, then rotating/zooming while panning using bumpers and triggers. This felt the most natural, especially when trying to scrutinize every angle of the environment.




The Start (3 horizontal lines) button brings up the list of keys you hold, as well as serves to access the star map once you find them on each island. 

As I learned the controls and the best way to navigate around for the puzzles, I discovered that they felt both overly and not sensitive enough at the same time. Definitely consider using the sensitivity setting that is found in the menu controls if you are struggling. 


Speaking of, the menu controls are extremely basic. There is no volume control nor customizable controls. Your options are to turn sound or music on and off, invert the Y axis, and increase/decrease cursor sensitivity. 


There is something to be said about the music, though. It’s on-point, and as you get lost into solving the puzzles it’s not obtrusive or noticeable that it’s repeating. I won’t be humming it to work tomorrow, but they did hit the right note - hah - on upbeat music that works well as you play.




Final Thoughts

Down in Bermuda had originally slipped under my radar. A friend recommended it to me as something I might be interested in because I really enjoyed the developers debut game - Agent A. Both that game and now “Down in Bermuda”  have unique gameplay as well as a fun art style with a lot of heart. I would recommend both Agent A and Down in Bermuda in a heartbeat to anyone who likes point and clicks or 3D puzzles. If I didn’t mention it earlier, the combination of relaxing gameplay, upbeat music, and casual puzzles really makes this a great game if you want to just chill.


Achievements

The achievements are mostly gained through the course of gameplay. There are achievements for finishing sections of the story, interacting with things repeatedly, finding all the hidden keys, photographs, and discovering all the stars. The downfall is the few remaining achievements. If you don’t realize to take specific actions at specific times, you’ll have to replay large sections if not the entire game. You have access to your biomes after you complete each one, but certain actions used to complete the area become unavailable. For example, there is a Kraken to vanquish, but you have to do so in 7 shots. Or consider my personal torment.. Finish the entire game without using a single star map. There is good news, however. As I mentioned earlier, the game has a “skip” feature where you can force biomes to spawn and bypass the story after you clear your data.




Game Information

Title: Down in Bermuda

Website: https://www.yakandco.com/

Developer: Yak & Co

Publisher: Yak & Co

Release Date: 1/14/2021

Platforms: Xbox One/Series X, Nintendo Switch, Steam, Playstation 4/5, Windows, iOS

Review platform: Xbox One

Price at launch: $19.99 USD

ESRB: E for Everyone

 

About the Writer: Kyleia is an avid Xbox fan and achievement chaser. She has a love of all games with a burning passion for indies and nautical adventures. She can often be found streaming indie games, achievement hunts, building crafts, or sailing the seas on https://twitch.tv/Kyleia. Destination Indie can be found on Twitter.com/DestIndie


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