The ocean is vast, scary, and full of mystery and wonder. I have been obsessed with animals since a small one and the thought of creatures living in one of my biggest fears; deep water always fascinated me. ‘Beyond Blue’ developed by E-Line Media is a stunning, single-player, narrative journey in the world of the wet and wonderful. Step your toes into the wetsuit of a researcher and live your David Attenborough dream as you explore the blue heart of the world.
You dive into the depths of the ocean as Mirai, granddaughter of a famous free diver, who also has the spirit of the ocean in her too and is destined to follow in her family’s footsteps of cherishing the waters of the world.
Beyond Blue, which is about the research of marine biology, is as much a story of family and connection as Mirai chases a Sperm Whale family that touched her heart at a young age, with her podcast research team in tow. While the story is not overwhelmingly detailed it actually made me feel very connected to the environment in the game and outside.
The controls are very simple and easy to master, something I love in explorative games. You use the sticks to navigate through the water and your right and left bumpers to scan the creatures that lurk and migrate to the reefs. You also can collect things and target objectives at a click of a button. The game allows you to not only move amongst the animals you interact with but hear them in all their acoustic glory.
The menu included documentary-style snippets you can unlock and a scientific log full of the data you collect along each of the 8 unique dives. These logs give info on any animals you have encountered and in between dives you can inspect Mirai’s submersible, which gives you tidbits into her life and profession. Other than that. the menu was a bit bare and could do with some more data pages on animals.
This leads into my next point. The audio experience is amazing. The clicks of the Sperm Whales echo through your ears with such precision and feeling, the squish of water as an octopus jets past; all add to the experience. The voice acting is top-notch too, with a full cast of esteemed individuals bringing emotional and evocative performances, all complemented by atmospheric backing music. I would definitely recommend this as a headset experience.
The graphics are neither here nor there, which is all the power of the Nintendo Switch. The reefs are incredibly detailed in either handheld or docked mode, but the lighting and shadows which are pivotal to this blue world are all washed out and unattractive to look at. It does look vibrant but the clarity is just not there and does slightly pull you out of the moment. It apparently looks gorgeous on PC though so that is a plus.
Overall, Beyond Blue was an experience I will remember for a long time. While not an action game, the marine knowledge and experience I have gained from this has been one of joy and heartfelt entrancement. Not overly complicated, some may be deterred by this calm and serene encounter but others will glide through it with wonder and be encapsulated by what lies below the waves.
- Heartfelt narrative
- Easy to mastery controls
- Voice acting
- Gorgeous atmospheric music and audio
- 8 areas to explore
- Too easy to master
- Lighting and shadows let down by the Switch
- Menus are a bit bare