A young hero is imprisoned under the sea after being shipwrecked by the legendary pirate, Davy Jones.
If you ask most kids what they’d like to be they’ll say, “fireman, ballerina,” maybe even “rodeo clown.” Kids like me however, only ever dreamed of being one thing—a pirate. With the Pirates of the Caribbean films popularizing this dream, the timing couldn’t be better for Written Legends: Nightmare at Sea. This piratey new adventure offers a boatload of fun and speaks directly to the wannabe swashbuckler in all of us.
Things get rolling when the ship you (a young hero of indeterminate gender) and your father are traveling on, is suddenly wrecked and sucked to the bottom of the sea. Oddly enough, once you escape the wreckage, you and pops realize you’re both still alive—well, sort of. Soon after your arrival, two things happen: a terrifying figure with glowing eyes and bushy black beard kidnaps good ol’ dad and you come to the disturbing conclusion that instead of a living person, you’re now a trapped soul. Determined to get your father back and escape your watery prison, you set out to explore what turns out to be an entire underwater town run by notorious pirate, Davy Jones (of “Locker” fame). The untrustworthy blaggard offers you and your father a chance to escape an eternity of enslavement—if you can beat him at his own game.
From the first seconds of the opening cutscene, it’s clear Written Legends: Nightmare at Sea is something special. Rarely do you see such expert cinematics in a casual game and in fact, the water and visual effects are nothing short of stunning. Outside the cutscenes, the main game is also something to behold, featuring scene after exemplary scene filled with beautiful art and great pirate flavor. As the game progresses, you meet other trapped souls—colorful characters like a lady pilot, a Russian mechanic, a depressed ship captain and a woman resembling Tia Dalma, the voodoo priestess from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. As slaves of Davy Jones, they have a vested interest in helping you defeat him and throughout the game, provide you with interesting dialog, tasks and helpful items.
The game’s hidden object scenes and puzzles are very well handled, of mostly reasonable difficulty and a bursting with nautical nuances. There’s never a time you’ll find yourself stumped since the handy map not only shows you exactly where you are but where the next objective lies. Most importantly, Written Legends: Nightmare at Sea boasts an unusual concept, or at least, an unusual setting. The underwater scenarios freshen the usual “haunted location controlled by an insane villain”idea and it’s fun to be doing something other than trying to solve a mystery (here you’re working to complete Davy Jones’ tasks and trying to save other lost souls.)
There aren’t many negative things to say about the game and the only ones worth mentioning are it’s somewhat incomplete-feeling audio and it’s lack of bonus content. Mostly, the game’s sound is as good as its visuals, with a sweeping musical score (once again, reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean films) but as time goes on, its lack of spoken dialog becomes noticeable. I mean, it’s one thing to read words like “Avast, ye scurvy dog!” –it’s another to hear them. Additionally, we hidden object fans have become spoiled and with a game as cool and high-quality as this one, we expect some add-ons like art, music, strategy guides and bonus gameplay. That’s not to suggest that Written Legends: Nightmare at Sea is too short—it’s just that as good as it is, when it’s over you wish there was more.
Written Legends: Nightmare at Sea is an atypically excellent hidden object game. Although it might have benefited from a little extra content and some over-the-top voice acting, its “arrrgh-tfully-done” graphics (sorry, couldn’t resist), entertaining characters, clever puzzles and well-designed hidden object scenes make it a maritime adventure that shouldn’t be missed.