Swedish developer Simogo has been doing some fascinating things lately. After the release of its first three arcade-style titles -- Kosmo Spin, Bumpy Road and Beat Sneak Bandit -- it seemed to come out of nowhere with Year Walk, an eerily beautiful cryptic puzzle game with a story that unfolded piece by tiny piece. This was followed by Device 6, an interactive narrative that became even more cryptic.
The Sailor's Dream is the culmination of the "trilogy" that began with Year Walk and Device 6, and it shares some DNA in common with its predecessors.
Fans might recognise the way the world of The Sailor's Dream is navigated; the pieces of written text that can be found, gleaming like treasures in the gloom; the care taken over the art; the way you have to piece the story together from smaller pieces.
That, however, is pretty much where the similarities end, and that's very important to know. If you're familiar with the other two games, you know that Simogo's genius is in hiding clues, so that you may not even know a puzzle is a puzzle until you find its solution.
There are no puzzles in The Sailor's Dream. It is, Simogo says, designed to be a "challenge-free experience in which you explore a non-linear story through words, music, sounds and illustrations."
This, honestly, is initially a little jarring. As you embark on your journey, exploring the dreamy, peaceful world laid out before the prow of your boat, you may expect to be trying to hunt for clues and cues, looking for important titbits of information that you may need later on down the line.
This is the wrong way to experience the title. Those clues don't exist. Instead, you are encouraged to take your time, explore, play. There are things to be found and collected, and the game evolves in real-time -- so each day, each hour, you may find something new to ponder: a new piece of the story, about three people united by the sea, told in song and text and speech.
The team has collaborated with songwriter Jonathan Eng for the soundtrack, with vocals by Stephanie Hladowski singing songs of the sea -- in fact, the songs are almost a character in the story unto themselves -- and voice acting by R Bruce Elliott. Filmmaker Johanna Meijer was also involved in the game's creation -- although exactly how, we are yet (and excited) to discover.
We're hesitant to say much more about it -- it really is the kind of experience that benefits from knowing as little as possible about what's inside before entering. We will note that it is definitely deeper than it looks -- a meditative exploration that lights the mind with curiosity and wonder.
The Sailor's Dream is available now from the iTunes app store ($3.99 | AU$4.99 | £2.49).