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Swimming the seas in Endless Ocean: Luminous is my new favourite way to relax

Endless Ocean Luminous cover art
Image: Nintendo

Games that send you to the sodden depths of the ocean are nothing new. From Abzu to Beyond Blue and even the likes of Subnautica, there’s been plenty of them. Even the Endless Ocean franchise isn’t new: it started life all the way back in 2007 on Nintendo Wii. Its latest iteration, Endless Ocean: Luminous, is the first in the series for fourteen years, allowing players to explore the oceans from the comfort of Nintendo Switch.

I’ll be honest: I don’t really care much for Endless Ocean: Luminous’ story. It’s there, doled out gradually through short levels that unlock piecemeal. But the real joy here is simply being let loose, given freedom to explore the entirety of the ocean. Each time you begin a new dive you’ll be given a new section of ocean to explore, and a map that you’ll gradually fill in as you do so. If you’re a completionist, seeing your percentage of ocean covered slowly tick from 0% up towards 100% is a joy in itself. But it’s encountering the creatures of the oceans that’s the true highlight here.

Swim right up to sharks, swordfish and giant blue whales simply to marvel in their presence: that’s the true joy of Endless Ocean: Luminous. You don’t have to swim away if you see something dangerous — you’re perfectly safe. Ultimately, your goal is to scan and catalogue as many creatures as you can, and it’s by scanning more and more creatures that you’ll unlock more story levels. If you care, that is.

Endless Ocean Luminous screenshot
Image: Nintendo

If you don’t care? It doesn’t matter — or at least, to me it doesn’t. Simply jumping into an open dive and beginning to explore the ocean is rewarding enough. Seeing a new creature for the first time is a thrill, and even if it’s a species you’ve already encountered, you might find a new record for the smallest or largest variant. With 578 different species to catalogue, too, it’s going to take quite some time.

Related: The best underwater games to dive into

I’ve mostly been playing Endless Ocean: Luminous solo, revelling in having an entire ocean all to myself (well, other than the creatures I share it with, of course) but there are multiplayer options. You can take part in an event dive, which offer opportunities to find rare creatures, or you can take part in a shared dive, where other players will exist in the same ocean space as you. You can invite friends if they’re playing too.

Endless Ocean Luminous screenshot
Image: Nintendo

For me, though, Endless Ocean: Luminous is not a game that needs multiplayer or social elements. It’s a joyful, relaxing experience to simply head into a body of water, exploring at your own pace and uncovering as many different types of fish as you can.

Slowly but surely filling up your creature log (and also finding the odd bit of salvaged treasure while you’re at it) is not only hugely rewarding, but there’s an educational element, too: every time you scan a creature you can read a short bio about it. And with a mixture of living and extinct creatures in Endless Ocean’s database, there’s a lot of information to absorb.

A thrilling experience this is not, but if you want something laid-back that you can play at your own pace — particularly if you have an interest in the oceans and marine life — there’s a lot to be found in Endless Ocean: Luminous.

Endless Ocean: Luminous is available now exclusive on Nintendo Switch.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.