Seers Isle doesn’t make life easy for itself – or the player. At the start of the story (we’re in interactive graphic novel territory here) the main character is mysterious at best, and it’s not even clear that you’re making decisions as that main character. It makes for a slightly awkward first playthrough, and only by the third was I really starting to get a handle on how to influence the narrative as I wanted.
Not that the narrative is particularly complicated: a group of youngsters from a variety of backgrounds arrive on an island, on a quest from which they may not return, to become shamans by reaching the summit and being judged worthy by the seers.
There’s not even that much interactivity: whole swathes of the story just play out without any input whatsoever. That makes each decision you do have all the more important, so it’s not exactly ideal that the impact of your decisions is often hard to predict. That impact is seen across four icons, which I eventually concluded are roughly passive and interventionist, mystic and rational. But I was still fumbling around in the dark in trying to guide the story down different avenues.
The arcs do at least diverge significantly, though not until quite a way into the narrative, and not obviously as a result of decisions taken at those points. The result is a slightly disconnected feeling of quite insignificant decisions early on almost invisibly influencing events much later. It might be intentional, but it’s not terribly satisfying, and it makes getting to alternative endings harder work than it should be.
Even reading the story is harder work than it should be, as the text moves around the screen in little boxes. It’s quite attractive, but I found it tiring. The art is a bit mixed too, the comic book-style character close-ups contrasting awkwardly with more subtle work elsewhere.
But for everything that I found frustrating, I found myself persevering, to follow other characters and see where else the story went. It was always a bit baffling, and slightly less under my control than I wanted, but it says something that I came back.
Seers Isle is out now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC and Mac.