Saltsea Chronicles is another narrative-driven adventure from the makers of Mutazione, only this time, you're playing a whole cast of characters, not just one. With their captain missing, a group of friends set sail across the Saltsea archipelago to find her, only for the mystery to steadily grow much larger.
This visual novel emphasises choice and consequence. Each chapter has you pick someone to accompany a lead character, and each person has their own views, skills, and interests — all of which affect conversations and events. The locations you explore are diverse and interesting, and as you work towards objectives, you'll find lots of optional chats, teaching you a little more about the world and its people. It's a well-written game (albeit with infrequent text errors) with likeable characters, telling grounded stories within unusual circumstances.
Every conversation gives you frequent decisions to make, which impact the direction of the dialogue and even character relationships. The Issues mechanic is something to bear in mind; your crew can develop grievances with one another, or shared concerns. If you play your cards right, you can resolve outstanding Issues, but if you don't, they'll be scuppered and can change the dynamic. It's a clever system that makes your conversation choices matter. All the choice-driven gameplay means the game is quite replayable — you can restart each chapter in a different save to see how alternative decisions affect things.
It's all delivered with style, too — the music is atmospheric and relaxing, and the art is all clean lines and vivid colours. The only distraction from this is screen tearing as scenes transition, but it's otherwise a nicely presented game.
We did struggle a little with the amount of dialogue. The pace moves quite slowly as a result, and while most interactions are optional, you'd miss out on so much context that it feels important to seek them out. The story is intriguing and the characters go through interesting arcs (depending on your choices) but it still only held our attention in short bursts.
There's a lot to like about Saltsea Chronicles. It has a clever structure, low-pressure gameplay, and even a neat minigame to play in each location. Add on top an eye-catching style and meaningful decision-making, and you have a pleasant, ship-shape adventure.