Ever wondered what it’s like, diving deep into the ocean and swimming alongside whales, sharks and other marine life?
Beyond Blue, a game from E-Line Media and developed in association with the BBC, wants to show you. Originally released on PC and home consoles back in summer 2020, Beyond Blue is now available on Switch, offering players the opportunity to experience the game in a handheld format. And aside from running at a lower resolution, this is as every bit as magical as it ever was.
You’re cast as Mirai, a deep-sea diver working with OceanX, a research team investigating life in the Pacific Ocean. It’s your job to swim alongside ocean creatures, scanning them and gathering information to take back to your team. And back in your research submarine, you can interact with your team and family members, and learn more about the animals you’ve scanned.
Although set in a near-future with slightly better technology than what’s available today, Beyond Blue aims to be, first and foremost, an educational experience. This is a game free of combat or conflict; it’s simply about learning more about the creatures living in the ocean. That doesn’t mean it’s dull, however. Swimming around the big blue is incredibly tranquil, and getting up close and personal to a humpback whale is every bit as magical as you’d expect. This is the closest most of us are going to get to these huge, majestic sea creatures and Beyond Blue does a great job of capturing the beauty of it.
Your time underwater is typically spent tracking locations; you’ll move from waypoint to waypoint, usually leading to a particular animal. You’ll scan them, sometimes needing to get close to them to investigate further. All the while, you’ll be in touch with your team, chatting and guiding you to your next location. The experience of Beyond Blue is elevated thanks to excellent voice acting – the characters feel real, and have lives outside of their job. Indeed, Mirai may be primarily concerned with what she finds underwater, but between phone calls with her sister and conversations with her colleagues, you’ll also get a glimpse of her life back home. It’s a nice touch, giving additional depth to your experience.
When you’re not diving, you’ll be back on your submarine, where you can learn more about your findings, nosey through various documents, or simply sit back and listen to a specially-curated playlist, including the likes of The Flaming Lips. It’s a shame you can’t enjoy the soundtrack while you’re out diving, but it makes for a pleasant interlude between underwater sessions. Besides, the ambient noise of the ocean is pleasant enough as you’re swimming around.
Beyond Blue is only a short experience – you’ll be done with it in about four hours or so. But every moment spent with the game is a treat. It might not be quite true to real life thanks to the game’s fictional and near-futuristic technology, but it does offer a very real glimpse into the lives of underwater creatures. Not only is this a valuable educational tool, it’s enjoyable and relaxing too.
Beyond Blue Review (Switch) – GameSpew’s Score