Beyond Blue (PS4)
Under The Sea! The Endless Ocean we've been waiting for?
Beyond Blue is a deep sea diving exploration game developed and published by E-Line Media. Swim your way through realistic ocean environments and discover the many mysteries that our ocean has to offer. Giving off vibes of Endless Ocean, can it live up to that expectation or surpass it? Find Out
Beyond Blue's story follows an ocean exploration crew of divers and scientists named Mirai,Andre and Irina as they research and track all the creatures living under our sea. You live the adventure through the eyes of our main character,Mirai, as she live streams to a worldwide audience about her findings and educates them on what exactly her job entails.
In Beyond Blue there is no combat at all,absolutely zero. You can not die or get injured or have any form of attack due to the games focus being about exploration and education. Without the need for combat or managing a health bar, this makes Beyond Blue an extremely relaxing game that you can find yourself just drifting away in no matter what time of day it is. So without combat and fighting, what is the main point of the game you ask? well it's actually pretty simple, explore,scan and learn.
The game takes a very unique approach to its narrative and game play, at least in my experience as a gamer. The game focuses on you playing as the main character,Mirai, as she swims down to the deep depths of the ocean to document her findings and live streams her dives and findings to a world wide audience. This is a unique approach to me because you are the one playing as her, and to me, it made it feel like I was the one doing the live streaming to the worldwide audience,so all of my discoveries were their discoveries too. It felt like I was contributing to content.
You completely have free roam to go where you want to go in the area you are in. Swim all the way down to the bottom of the ocean to its floor and the environment gets darker and darker as sunlight has a harder time reaching those depths. If you see an opening in coral or cave walls, swim through those walls or holes and find secret caves with new specimens to discover that you might normally miss out on finding. The more specimens you discover, the more you can fill up your sea log and learn more about the species you have scanned and located.
Equipped with a scanner, you will be able to swim with the fishes,no not in the same way Don Corleone would like, but literally swim side by side with everything you see. It truly is a magical feeling to be able to see dolphins in the distance and having the ability to swim right up next to them,scan them and learn some history about their species as well as their different cries and sounds that they make,plus you can even play with them at certain points in the story. You will run into a variety of different species,at least 45 different types of fish ranging from barracuda,dolphins,sperm whales,orcas,etc.
While deep sea diving you will be treated to really relaxing music that doesn't impede on your adventure, but instead draws you into it. Being almost atmospheric, the music during your dives never intrudes on your immersion and always seems to fit at any given time,even when character narrative is taking place. This was key to me because far too many times games have tried to keep a player immersed in the vision they're setting up for the player,only to be completely ruined by a musical choice or musical spot in the wrong place and wrong time. It was nailed perfectly here.
After each dive you finish, you're then able to retreat from the sea for a short period and go back on your submarine underwater. This area acts like your own little hub where you can keep track of the specimens you have documented, replay previous dives that you have completed,check out the games soundtrack via a tablet that has a playlist or extend the story further by calling your sister and getting updates from Andre and Irina who are above ground going over research. This is another thing that is flawlessly done because you are still immersed under water in your submarine,seeing whales swimming around you, but you're still moving the story forward at the same time. I found it a really nice touch.
Beyond Blues overall length will differ depending on how you play it. If you choose to rush through the storyline and do a bare minimum amount of scanning and exploring, you could probably knock this game out in around 6 hours. But I feel rushing through it like that is an overall injustice to E-Line's vision here and what has been accomplished. This is a game where you NEED to take your time and explore as much as possible to get the full effect of what the developers want you to see. If you explore everything they want you to,scan every specimen you can find, you will get a good 10-12 hours out of this game bare minimum and that to me is the sweet spot.
Graphically I find the game to be very good,its the right art style to use for this genre. To me its a mix of realistic and cartoonish. Its a blend of both styles and it works really well because some environments in the coral pop out with color and life,while the specimens and fish themselves look more realistic and smooth and that really makes you feel like you're swimming right along side of them. Overall no complaints, lighting and texturing are just great.
At the end of the day Beyond Blue is the game I didn't even know I wanted until I actually played it and finished it. This is the Endless Ocean game that people have wanted for awhile in my honest opinion and I feel it personally surpasses what Endless Ocean has set up previously. Adding in a unique story narrative,submarine hub,more room for exploration,varieties of specimens to scan and a great voice cast, makes Beyond Blue a must have for people looking for a deep sea adventure or a relaxing educational game with a nice narrative. My only complaint is that there aren't even more specimens to discover. Here's hoping for a sequel. Definitely check this one out if you have the time.
Beyond Blue is out now on Playstation 4,Xbox One,Nintendo Switch and Windows
*Review code provided by E-Line Media