After following this game for a long time, I got my hands on a copy of the beautiful , much anticipated Beyond Blue. A single-player narrative adventure game from E-Line Media, where you play as a marine biologist exploring the deep blue ocean and all the wonders within it.
Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this game for free
Platforms: PS4, Switch, Xbox, PC and Apple Arcade
Publisher/Developer: E-Line Media
Price: £15.49 on Steam
Setting the scene
Beyond Blue has always been pitched as ‘Blue Planet’, the game. Not a lot was given away about the sort of game it would be. The stunning screenshots of large, open expanses of seascape gave us an idea of it becoming a large sandbox style exploration game. Vast, atmospheric, and relaxing.
The game, released initially on iOS in April 2020 and later to PC and Console in June 2020 is all of those things. It is vast, atmospheric, and relaxing. It did however fall short for me on some of the expectations that I’d given myself over what the gameplay was going to involve.
Handholding and not particularly engaging
As much as I wanted this game to be something I could put my headphones on for and get lost underwater in, a real change from the sometimes norm of fast-paced and quite stressful games I usually play, I just didn’t get that.
You play as Mirai, a deep-sea explorer and scientist. But with the constant narrative of your helpers and co-hosts of the underwater live stream that you’re hosting in your ear. This starts as a bit of a tutorial, but the delivery of it all felt very synthetic, quite cheesy and a little bit annoying at times.
There are a lot of good bits
However I felt about some of the narrative sides of this game, I can’t dispute that when you do get to just swim around the ocean, finding all sorts of amazing sea life (especially when you first see that sperm whale silhouette for the first time) it is really quite brilliant. I recently invested in a 27″ 1440p monitor, and having that paired with a nice pair of headphones gave me some really peaceful moments and between spouts of conversation between characters was quite amazing.
So what do you do?
The game starts off with you already in the water, swimming amongst the fishes, getting ready to start your first underwater livestream, how very meta. It uses this platform as a tutorial to talk you through how to use your scanner, find beacons, and interact with the various mechanics with your character.
Throughout this you can scan new creatures that you find, and the game gives you a few mini tasks to try and find and scan certain areas.
It does however make the ocean feel very, very small. Within about a 1km radius, I scanned several pods of dolphin, some manta rays, some humpback whales and a large pod of sperm whales. Of course I think having to swim about for 3 months before actually seeing a whale might be a little bit too realistic, seeing some of the oceans most spectacular and rare creatures all within the first 15 minutes of the game left me feeling a little bit unfulfilled. I was hoping for that first moment where I came across a whale to be breath-taking, and it was. But when it happened again every 5 minutes or so, and there was a sperm whale swimming alongside a whale shark it all started to feel a little bit more aquarium than deep blue sea.
Who is this game for?
I think my seemingly negative review so far is a victim to my own expectations, so do take it with a pinch of salt. I’ve been following the development of this game for years, and was really looking forward to it being the game I’d formulated it to be in my head from the various tweets and screenshots. It turned out to be a very pretty, very smooth game that would be utterly perfect for kids. It’s not challenging, but sitting down in front of this game when I was 12 would have me lost for hours.
To conclude, Beyond Blue is a good game but I think it had the opportunity to be something bigger. It’s worth the money and will give you a few enjoyable hours of gameplay. It’s not you Beyond Blue, it’s me.