Ocean Pearls: Kissed by the Sea is an upcoming otome game with a demo available today. The developer sent us an early copy of the demo for this review.
You play as Nova, a young woman who returns to her childhood town and learns that the house owned by her grandmother, who passed away three years earlier, now belongs to her. She also receives a strange package containing a strange book and mysterious glass spheres. When she accidentally breaks one of the spheres, however, she finds herself mixed up in an underwater world she never knew existed—for the spheres belong to the seafolk, and by breaking one, she has become engaged to one of the ocean’s kings.
Five spheres are available for Nova to pick, although only three of them can be chosen in the demo, allowing to you try out the start of the routes for Soh, Isven, or Lemos. Although they all have the same basic premise of the accidental engagement, their stories appear to be going in quite different directions. There was also a choice ahead of that point where I was restricted to a single option in the demo version, which makes me curious if there will be an additional route available at that point in the final game.
Major characters appear on the screen as sprites, while Nova has a smaller sprite that appears alongside her dialogue. The art is beautiful, although transitions occasionally used a pixelated style that felt jarring compared to the normal style. I also noticed a couple of typos, but these were rare. As you play, you unlock additional information about important people, places, and lore, which you can read at any time. Early on, these pop up so frequently it was distracting, but it fortunately changes as you get further into the demo. The descriptions themselves are written from Nova’s perspective and are enjoyable to read.
Most importantly, each of the three routes available in the demo seems pretty interesting. I started with Soh’s route, and as I got further into it, I really started to like the characters. It ended on a note that left me wanting to see what would happen next. My second choice was Lemos, and not only did the story go in a completely different direction, but I found the characters even more entertaining. Isven’s route was the weakest of the three for me, but even then it had enough mysteries and intrigue to leave me curious. Since the three love interests available in the demo are so different from one another, I’m curious to see what the remaining characters will be like.
At this point, it’s not clear if the stories will be entirely separate or if they will overlap in part of an overarching plot. Lemos references Soh, for example, since the ocean kingdoms have connections to one another. But whether the routes will intersect or tell entirely separate stories, they’re all off to a good start. They have drama, hints of romance even this early in the routes (especially in Soh’s route, which is ironic since he starts out openly hostile toward Nova), and a fair amount of humor, which was a pleasant surprise.
Overall, Ocean Pearls: Kissed by the Sea is off to a great start. While the demo only gives a glimpse of what is to come, it’s enough to make me look forward to the final product.
You can try the demo for yourself by downloading it from itch.io.