Down in Bermuda

Developer: Yak & Co
Publisher: Yak & Co
Apple / Steam / Switch / Xbox / Epic Store

Reviewed on PC (Steam)

The Bottom Line: Though it packs no shortage of charm, this relaxing puzzler is let down by control niggles and an overall lack of challenge.

When I heard that Yak & Co, the developers of Agent A, had released a new game, I was eager to check it out. Agent A had been a pleasant surprise, packed with attractive set pieces inspired by Connery-era James Bond and brain-tickling puzzles that were equal parts tactile and engaging. I’d gone into it with uncertain expectations yet come away impressed.

This, of course, meant that I had certain expectations of Down in Bermuda. So when I fired it up I was disappointed to find that the spy trappings of Agent A were long gone; in their place was a style that more closely resembled Monument Valley. While Monument Valley and its sequel are fine games in and of themselves, they spawned a subgenre of puzzlers that quickly became uncomfortably crowded. Lacking the uniqueness of its forebearer, Down in Bermuda struggled to leave me with a strong impression.

Mayday, Mayday

The protagonist of Down in Bermuda is Milton, a pilot who 30 years ago crash landed on a tiny island that in no way resembles the real Bermuda. (I suppose Down in the Bermuda Triangle would’ve been too much of a mouthful.) Having lost his middle years to the island, he one day decides to make his way back to civilization, where he hopes to reunite with his wife and child. Why did he wait three decades to get off his plump rump and find a way home? Bermuda must be a nice place to spend a decade or three.

You guide Milton from island to island, solving puzzles and collecting magic orbs to open portals. On these tropical isles you’ll encounter a wide cast of creatures, including giant turtles, a bony pirate, and a friendly duck. Some of these island denizens will lend you a hand, while others will impede your progress.

Shiver me timbers

The bare-bones story is paired with a clean visual style. Like Agent A before it, Down in Bermuda nixes textured surfaces in favor of pure colors and gradients. The resulting style plays nicely with the tropical locale, with each island having a unique theme and color palette. The soundtrack is also on point, full of jaunty tunes that reinforce the laid-back atmosphere.

The Third Dimension

Gameplay is a mix of Monument Valley-style puzzles and hunting for hidden objects. This aspect is where the shift from the mostly static 2D scenes of Agent A to full 3D has hurt the game the most. Camera control, in particular, never feels great. Even after patches to mitigate players’ complaints, navigating the 3D space with a mouse remains cumbersome. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise – Down in Bermuda was originally released as an Apple Arcade title, after all. But having enjoyed Agent A on PC without any qualms, I was disappointed that this new game felt like a step back. The control issues are further exacerbated by the game’s insistence on zooming in when playing certain animations. My mouse wheel got a strenuous workout after every cutscene as I frantically tried to regain my bearings.

The move to a full 3D space also makes finding all the hidden objects quite challenging. Thankfully, on each island you can pick up a map that reveals the locations of the hidden stars. On one hand, I can see why the developers included it, because tracking down certain stars would’ve been nearly impossible without a map. On the other hand, its inclusion feels like a bit of a cop-out. Shouldn’t the game have been designed in a way that doesn’t force the player to rely on a 2D diagram of the 3D puzzle space?

Elderly Mutant Geeky Turtle

In addition to all the hidden objects, there are many puzzles to solve. I didn’t find any of these too be overly difficult, with the exception of one particular block-rotating puzzle. (In the end, it turned out that the solution was much less involved than I’d led myself to believe.) Puzzle control, while generally responsive, isn’t perfect, with the movement of mine carts feeling especially jerky. Often I had to click and drag these carts multiple times to make them behave as I wanted.

A short game, Down in Bermuda can be played to completion in about 3 hours. While the audiovisual presentation is vibrant and welcoming, the game is beset with minor but pervasive control and usability issues. Although I can’t recommend it outright – especially at full price – Down in Bermuda is nonetheless a pleasant diversion, and if you’re into this style of game you will probably be able to squeeze some enjoyment out of it. Just don’t expect to uncover why the territory of Bermuda has been overrun by arcane obelisks and unusual aliens, because you won’t find answers here.

Rating: 79 of 100 Pixels

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