SeaBed from Paleontology
My first impression of SeaBed from Paleontology was hopeful. I was immediately treated to complicated melodies woven into a tapestry of sound combined with unique visuals appearing pedestrian, but with backgrounds straight out of a shojo anime.
My first impressions were shattered a couple of hours into this visual novel when the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. SeaBed doesn’t know what it wants to be.
But Are You the Master of Your Domain?
There are many types of visual novels, but I’ve always found that they fall into two camps. Obvious exceptions aside, some have branching story arcs which are affected by player decision, and some are simply text layered upon images. SeaBed is the latter. There’s no interaction with the story as a player. The player – or rather, the reader – is simply there for the ride. So is this ride worth the price of admission?
I can start by immediately stating my biggest irritation with this game. SeaBed is the Seinfeld of visual novels. It’s a visual novel about nothing.
It’s a Game about Nothing
The genre has a term for this, and it’s referred to as “slice of life.” Much of SeaBed tells the story of jet-setting friends and lovers Sachiko and Yakako, mostly centralizing around their daily life. The amount of frivolous banter is outstanding. I found myself clicking as quickly as I could through what can potentially be hours of zero content. This is where SeaBed suffers, as the ridiculous pacing takes a long time to get to anything substantial.
The story is there, but it doesn’t really pick up until quite a few hours of nothing. Every once in a while the text will allude to something that vaguely resembles a plot. Flashbacks to the past are prevalent and essential to the storyline, but toughing it out is a chore. Fifteen to twenty hours later, the player is rewarded with a satisfying ending to what turned out to be a deep and involving story diving into the depths of the human mind and psyche. I won’t go into much detail beyond that, as the story is better experienced without prior knowledge going in.
They Said I Could Be Anything
Another aspect in which SeaBed confuses readers is culture. The main characters are very obviously Japanese; however, there is a large amount of Western influence in the text. Even with that Western influence, there’s an obvious feel that it was added in for localization. Japanese culture is still sprinkled throughout any Western references.
Seabed will still appeal to a certain audience, simply because it’s a yuri game. Yuri is seeing a resurgence of popularity in Otaku culture this season, particularly with the January release of anime Citrus. Based off the 2012 manga of the same name, Citrus is a highly-anticipated anime about two stepsisters that develop romantic feelings for one another.
Obviously, there is a romantic relationship between Sachiko and Yakako that becomes evident early on. Add the occasional cut scene with partial nudity, and we’ve got a formula that will tantalize the target audience, given they have the patience enough to sludge through more text than disc two of Xenogears.
Highly descriptive text definitely creates an escapist experience with SeaBed, which is the point of this visual novel. Secondary characters are charming as well, and sometimes seem more appealing than the two mains. This is hands-down a visual novel meant for fans of the genre, fans of yuri and lovers of descriptive literature. Other than that, it’s not too accessible or enjoyable. It’s a shame, really. I very much wanted to like this one.
SeaBed is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for SeaBed below: