Beyond Blue – Review
Follow Genre: Simulator, Exploration
Developer: E-Line Media
Publisher: E-Line Media
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: PC

Beyond Blue – Review

Site Score
6.7
Good: Educative and very pretty
Bad: Mediocre story, Uninteresting characters, Repetitive gameplay
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

There are not that many educative games out there, which is quite surprising, though understandable due to the limitations that would have to be imposed. Through its deep ocean exploration and species discovery gameplay, Beyond Blue attempts to be one of such games, even if it ultimately falls somewhat short.

Story   

Ironically for a narrative-driven game, Beyond Blue’s story is not the best by any means. It revolves around Mirai, an ocean scientist and diver part of an expedition tracking a pod of whales and exploring the area. Here is where the problem with the story comes though; instead of continuing with this, two other plots are introduced, one about Mirai’s family and another about some illegal miners.

By splitting the game into these three plots, all of them get unsatisfying endings without real development. Instead of being well-paced stories, with each getting their own time, they feel shoehorned and rushed, especially the miner’s side story which leads nowhere.

Another issue with the pacing is due to how in-between each playable section several days pass. During these skipped days things still happen, but the player is only told afterward instead of seeing them, leaving a sense of disconnect with said events.

These problems combined make the story very weak and make it more of a side event than an important thing. It just trudges along without leaving any remaining impression after the deal is done. It doesn’t help either how the characters get very little development, staying the same all along the story.

Graphics

Beyond Blue’s graphics definitely are the best part of the game as the models and environments are well designed and polished, though not without fault. Fish of the same species look identical to one another except in the cases where the story requires it, with some that look plastic/toy-like such as the reef sharks. Environments tend to be quite empty as well, with some areas straight up being just water without any land in sight.

Sound

The sound department in Beyond Blue is a very mixed bag; while the soundtrack is good, it is composed of popular songs from known artists, not music made for the game. There is only one song made especially for it, which is what plays during levels on a loop. While this song is not bad it is definitely not enough. The game also includes a “streamer mode” which supposedly disables some songs for streaming, but this “some” equates to all but the one previously mentioned.

Some of the SFX are problematic, to say the least as well, wildly changing the volume from one to another. Several of them also make sounds that might prompt the player to believe their sound system is broken due to the values used.

The game also is fully voice acted, a point in its favor. The quality of the voice acting is arguable though; while the volume, intonation, etc is correct, it still is somewhat lifeless, as if the actors recorded their lines separately. This is especially evident in the multiple-choice sections, where the pause makes the delivery awkward.

Gameplay

There is not much to Beyond Blue’s gameplay either, it plays as a diving sim of sorts where the player goes around scanning different animals. It doesn’t get much deeper than this, the player goes to several buoys where animals or objects required to progress the story are found by sound; which then they must proceed to find and scan.

Along the way other animals can be scanned, unlocking information about them which can later be read in the menu. By scanning more of an animal, more information is unlocked up to a limit. Some of these animals appear in several areas, requiring the player to be attentive to scan all of them.

After these scanning sections, the player always comes back to the submarine, where they can look at several items and menus. In said submarine, the main feature is the seat at the helm, where Mirai calls her coworkers and sister to talk. These conversations all progress the story and are required to advance, once they’re done the player can dive again.

There are also several things to do in the submarine, such as looking at a few non-interactive items and using the menus. Said menus include the music player (which as previously mentioned is useless in streamer mode), an animal catalog with the data of those scanned, and a short documentary menu.

These short documentaries are unlocked as the story progresses and are bite-sized looks into the life of a researcher. They are interesting and well-produced, with the total duration for all combined being around 30 minutes.

Once the story has been beat, the player unlocks a free roam mode, but still divided per area without an open world. This doesn’t really change much besides offering the option to revisit old levels in any order.

Conclusion

Beyond Blue is not a bad game, it is interesting and informative enough, but it doesn’t really offer much freedom. The gameplay itself is also simplistic without much development; it is more of the kind of game someone would play to relax rather than for the gameplay. Overall, Beyond Blue is recommendable for those who go in knowing what to expect, a pretty but overall weak game that offers a relaxing and educative experience.

Personal Opinion

“I had some trouble playing Beyond Blue; due to the type of game it is, I kept dozing off and getting sleepy. This isn’t against the game though, it was just really calming. When you go into a game and spend most of the time swimming around with peaceful music you are going to feel relaxed, in my case it just was a bit too relaxing. The lack of a better soundtrack is a shame though, the song selection is okay, but I expected more music made for the game and less made by unrelated bands. While I wouldn’t say Beyond Blue was my kind of game, I wouldn’t dismiss it for someone else; it is entertaining enough.”

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Beyond Blue - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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