E-Line Media bring us Beyond Blue, a dive into the depths of the ocean to discover more about the creatures that live there. I have strapped on my scuba gear in real life, so time to strap on a virtual one and dive dive dive. Flippers on and ready to sink to the bottom of the Blue Beyond.
You play Mirai, a keen marine biologist. Beyond Blue is her adventure in the water with an array of other sea creatures. Your task is simple, investigate the waters around you. There are buoys that give clues as to what you need to do so you never get bored. There is a simple tutorial so that you learn all the swimming techniques required. One of your main tasks is simply tagging and tracking the sea life around you, anything from humpback whales to pilot fish. The tasks themselves are not overly complicated, and probably not the main focus of the game. I know that sounds like a strange thing to say, but bear with me.
Playing Beyond Blue is like taking a step into another world, the environment and the atmosphere is simply stunning. You don’t need to rush to every task, and I generally found myself just swimming along with the various creatures in blissful ignorance of anything else. There is no stress, haste, or urgency in Beyond Blue, just a beautifully crafted world to explore. Dive down and find corals and octopi, or stay near the surface and race orcas and dolphins. There are a set number of each creature in the area, and you can tag them all. Each time you tag a new creature you get an entry in the log book so you can find out more about it. The more dives you complete, the more videos you unlock, the more you can find out about the people who are the inspiration behind Beyond Blue. By the time I had been playing for a few hours I had been convinced that I had missed out on the most amazing job on the planet. There is a storyline as well, you make regular contact with your sister and some colleagues to unravel the goings-on. Not everything is simply a walk in the park, or swim in the ocean.
Beyond Blue is the perfect escape from reality, the feel of the game is truly sublime. Where else can you swim with hammerhead sharks, jellyfish and octopi without getting wet?
The only real issue I had with Beyond Blue was when I was on the sea bed it was hard to move around and look around at the same time. When looking for something on the sea bed you tend to just swim into the ground as direction is relevant to the camera angle.
Beyond Blue does pretty much everything right in the graphics department, the way the creatures move looks so realistic and is very convincing, even just the swimming around is very smooth. They draw you into the immersive experience and sometimes make you forget that you are actually playing a game and not just swimming around. There are a few issues if you get too close to the larger creatures where you seem to just teleport away if you get hit by a fin or other protrusion. You can also get too close to the whales and end up with your head inside the creature, and I am guessing that sticking your head up a sperm whale’s arse is not going to be a pleasant experience.
Beyond Blue relies a lot on audio, there is whale song to record, strange noises to detect and generally detect a lot of movement by sonar. As you can appreciate there isn’t a lot you can hear underwater, so options were pretty limited. The voice acting is pretty good, it’s a shame that the script isn’t a little better though. There is also a good set of songs to listen to when on the sub, you can access the playlist and choose your favourite one as well.
It is very easy to get absorbed into Beyond Blue, the whole atmosphere can become addictive, and the task of tagging all the different species of fish is a challenge. There is not a lot that I would consider challenging to do, no obstacle courses to complete or zombies to shoot, and all in all I would say that it’s more of an experience than a game. The pace is so relaxed that it’s perfect after a stressful day in the office to go and swim with a family of humpback whales or dolphins. I somehow feel that I will continue to play Beyond Blue well after I have completed the set tasks.
Playing Beyond Blue is a very interesting experience, there isn’t really a great amount to do, but yet due to the graphics it is a lot of fun. As a game, it’s a little dull with very little to actually achieve in terms of gameplay. I see it very much as a short main quest and you get to just make up your own side quests that don’t actually involve doing anything, just enjoying the world that you are immersed in. The feeding was definitely a high point, it just felt so real.
I have awarded Beyond Blue a Thumb Culture Silver Award because whilst the gameplay is very good, there isn’t much game to play. However, a game has never ever made me feel like I missed an opportunity to actually do the coolest job in the world.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
For more articles from Kevin, click here