Inspired by the BBC show Blue Planet, Beyond Blue sees you explore the oceans in a semi open-world environment. The story starts with a woman called Mirai, who is a deep sea diver involved in a project called OceanX. You are tasked to scan the depths of the ocean, log the wildlife that inhabit it, all while live streaming videos of her in the sea and she is searching for a pod of sperm whales.
Mirai is part of a team who involve herself, André and Irina who. You start in an area called the Atoll map. There are several areas in total to explore. Each area is different, as you explore parts of the deep blue water during day and night time. In shallow waters, colours are bright and vivid. As you dive deeper, darkness creeps in and you only your head lamp that allows you to see a few feet a head, while you swim through ancient sea floor vents and rock formations that adorn the oceans.
During the game, the player swim around, scanning different sea creatures, unlocking information as you log each of them. You will have to scan several of them, as they pass in groups or seek them out while they traverse the water to get all the facts on them. Although not difficult, the task of continuous scanning can be tedious after a while.
To help navigate your journey, Mirai can find a number buoys and these help locate certain sea creatures that her and the team are looking for. This involves moving a reticle till you find the right sound and this locates them. Controls are simple to master, with minor button inputs to move, scan and look around the world. Switch your lamp to different colours depending on how dark or bright the area is. While Mirai swims around scanning, her and the team will tell you facts about the creatures you’ve scanned. These are given through explaining these facts to the ‘live audience’ who are watching the stream.
Mirai will also pick up items in the sea, that will help her get scientific knowledge. In between levels, you take a break from diving, to go into her sub. Here you can look at all the creatures you have scanned, see how they move and look at their facts you’ve discovered. While you progress throughout the game Mirai will get a drone that will also help her scan the various sea creatures. As you continue the story further, you keep tracking the sperm whale family. Noises start to come from deeper in the sea which is caused by a mining machine, which spook the whales and Mirai wants to find out what’s happening as the whales start to show signs of distress and sickness. From here, Mirai continues her story with trying to find out what is happening.
In the options menu there are videos that can be unlocked and these videos are bonus footage of real life divers and marine scientists/biologists and their stories of them and the sea. These videos explain about the ocean and the rich life it holds.
During my play, I found no glitches while playing the game and played well. I did have some issues with the UI design, as there are circles on the map that show you where the sea creatures are that you haven’t scanned. While playing the game, I struggled at times to see these circles as the blended in with the map. But other than that, gameplay was smooth.
I played with a headset on to get the most experience of the ocean sounds and it was really enjoyable to hear the live like sounds coming from the sea creatures, especially if you swim by a pod of dolphins or whales who are all interacting with one another. Graphically, it’s visually pleasant to look at and the pace of the game is relaxed. I wish to have seen some interactions between the different sea creatures such as feeding/hunting etc while you’re swimming around, but the only time you see this is when the game does it for the story line.
It’s a solid all-rounder, from it’s sound, gameplay and visual aspects. It doesn’t do anything drastically new, but if you like the subject matter, this is a quick and relaxing trip to the ocean. There is some repetitiveness of having to scan all creatures several times, it lasts for around 7-8 hours, so for it’s €16.99 price tag, it’s reasonable. A VR option for PC or PS4 would be a nice feature to have and build immersion, but no news if that would be a future feature. The game will be a better experience for people who enjoy underwater games and are into sea creatures and exploring.
Beyond Blue is available for PS4, Xbox One and PC right now.
Review by Thomas Brown-Lawlor