Boundless Ocean
A Review by Onlyoneinall
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Sword of Jade is one of the top rated OHR games the community has seen. Its high quality and the immense amount of dedication put into it makes it a household name in the community.

Yet if you check Castle Paradox, all you see are two reviews. Two for a game that has been in production for years.

Wouldnít a game so wonderful have more reviews than that? Even if everyone thinks itís the best game for the OHR ever, at least they could take the time to express what they feel, or maybe if they have an opposing view point they can announce it. Yet, the only reviews for the game are by Iblis and me.

And then there's Boundless Ocean, thousands of downloads and yet not even one review. Itís time to change that.

Orchard Lafayette, also known as Friend, has a reputation for creating games that have great graphics and music to support their explorative atmospheres. Those who have played his other games, such as City of Dreams and Missing, will find how prominent the theme of exploring a world full of atmosphere is.

Boundless Ocean surpasses its predecessors. Words may not be enough to describe how much one can immerse themselves into the gameís world. Taking place in a setting where life after death continues on and many souls seek to enlighten themselves and retrieve the memories lost from the transition into another world, settling for anything less than exploring every corner, every cave, every settlement, every borderline of the edge that is Boundless Ocean could lead to an experience that could be compared to going to see the auroras in Alaska, only to rush yourself to go back home as soon as possible.

The atmosphere of the game can overtake you. Many times, I put myself in the position of Silhouette (the character you control), a newly arrived member of the Boundless Ocean. While I cannot speak for others, many times I imagined myself in this world where one has just died and awakes in a beautiful world where God comes up to greet me, telling me that I am dead, my memories are gone, and I am free to do what I wish to in the Boundless Ocean. I can of course, seek to become enlightened and regain my memories, or simply live on in this world instead of going back with the living.

It can evoke an overwhelming feeling. Existence in the land of the dead, memories of my life out of reach, a beach that stretches out into darkness, a void into nothingness where no soul can be found in wandering, finally knowing there is an afterlife and there is more to death than as perceived in life.

Sadly, the Boundless Ocean is not like the glorious eternal peace and happiness claimed to be found by the religious beliefs of Christians. Not every soul that enters the Boundless Ocean leaves it, nor finds themself on the path to advance to something better. Lost souls wander, twisted by that which holds them back. Whether it is envy, rage, lust, vengeance or someone who has simply become a vagabond, the Boundless Ocean is a dangerous place, and you can die. Except this death will throw you into a transition where redemption or enlightenment isnít a possibility, amplifying the agony felt in knowing you will suffer forever, perhaps to the point where you lash out against others who still have that chance.

This makes the world very dangerous, more so than the world of the living because of the risk of eternal damnation. Fortunately, you have help on your side. Buddha, while not liking to promote violence, promotes defending yourself against the hostile and dangerous, and will gladly make weapons and armor for you at a price. Gather the materials and soulshards, which are just that, tiny bits of life of a soul, and he can create them for you. What you make will give you different attributes that can make you either an aggressive fighter or defensive magic user.

Buddha also gives you the ability to take other bitter souls and materialize them into something that can be used to help make you equipment. The stronger and more twisted the soul, the better material you can get. You will be given the opportunity to get this ability if you can solve Buddhaís riddle, which few have managed to solve, but if you wish to find your memories again, you have little choice.

The game is what you make of it, and there is plenty that is offered to keep you playing until the end.

Graphics are what you will immediately notice. The beauty of where you blossom into the Boundless Ocean is awe inspiring, and begins to set the world that you will be exploring. The game intends to be aesthetically appealling, and it succeeds. Itís just as much a sightseeing tourist attraction as it is a compelling mystery. Shore of Redemption is where you begin, a beach that fades into darkness, the beauty of it all intensified by the wonderful music. Most of the soundtrack is original. The only part that isnít, I believe, is the expanded part after the mandalla wheel. Turning off the speakers would be a crime.

Enjoying the world around you is half the game. There are so many beautiful things to be seen that you canít help but stare. Combined with the appropriate musical compositions, being able to feel and experience the Boundless Ocean brings you a step closer to becoming enlightened.

Battles are always slightly on edge. The weapons and armor you use drastically affect your fights, and the ability for you as well as the enemy to do a critical hit means you can never be sure what to expect. The enemy might hit you with a light smack, but just as you think you can finish it off, youíll be hit with a powerful blow that ends your journey. This means youíll have to keep your health up and throw caution to the wind when encountering new lost souls.

There a couple of puzzles you will encounter where youíll have to really think in order to solve, and they are presented as tests to whether or not youíre competent enough to keep on going. This along with many elements is a throwback to some of Orchard Lís previous games, so if you have played games from before, you probably will not have as much trouble with the puzzles if you understand its style.

The story, like Orchard’s other games puts you in a position where you must advance in order to backtrack into events that have passed to discover the answers. Purgatory had a college student trapped in a world of horror with little idea why. City of Dreams had a young man returning to Bastagone one more time to remember the memories that he had. Missing is about a husband whose wife and son disappeared at a small inn, and he must search it to find out what happened.

All of these games have to do with retrieving memories of what has come to be. Boundless Ocean takes this on a much larger scale, and it’s about a woman who has passed away and is discovering that her lost memories have to do with the World War II era, the emphasis on when Japanese Americans were put into American concentration camps because of their ethnicity. I dare say I should not reveal anymore. The enlightenment and discovery of memories have already been made by me. To reveal anymore to one who has yet to retrieve the memories and are still far down would only cause a disturbance; that would cause the person to give up on their own path and feel there is no more reason to seek out the answers and continue the journey. I do not wish to be cause of that.

However, even if revealing the entire story were to cause lack of interest in the game, the fact this game has so much to see that is pleasing would still be reason enough to play through. The game can take you anywhere from around four hours to ten. Six and a half hours is what it took me to explore the world, take in the story, advance to enlightenment and achieve it. The ending will tug poignantly at your heartstrings as you take in everything that has happened to you up to this point.

I donít believe much else needs to be said for one to determine whether or not to give this game a try..

The Boundless Ocean beckons for you...