Beyond Blue is a third-person diving simulator, created in an attempt to educate a new audience on the wonders of the oceans of the world. The game was made with the help of numerous Marine Biologists, scientists, in addition to the crew behind BBC’s blue planet II – Allowing for us to enjoy the journey, safe in the knowledge that the game was backed up from a knowledgeable source.
You play as Mirai, a passionate marine biologist that is tasked with keeping track of a pod of whales. her mothering nature results in her often beating herself up when things go wrong, A trait shared too by her co-workers, who will assist you along the journey.
The gameplay of Beyond blue is split between 8 separate dives. Each based around varying points and depths of the Western Pacific. Allowing the player to discover new wildlife common to these varying areas within the Western Pacific.
The game’s levels aren’t designed to be rushed through – Instead they are designed for the player to casually breeze their way through. allowing for the Scanning, scanning and more scanning of the numerous fish that the game considers noteworthy on educating us on.
When you’ve finished scanning the many fish at your own pace and are happy to continue along with the story. You swim on over to the objective, where you are then tasked with scanning another fish or whale. Though this one will now trigger a little cut-scene to reward your obedience on the linear story-driven journey.
All but one of the levels have it all mapped out for you. You can’t die, you can’t get lost, and you can’t get stuck on any given point. This game holds your hand the whole way along the journey. It isn’t designed to challenge, but instead to inform.
It’s not all bad, the insights were great. The story would take you down a route that would touch on an issue within the sea world – after completion, it would unlock an ‘insight’, Which was a 1-2 minute video explaining further. These were great and on average you’d unlock just under 2 per level.
The discoverable sea life for me was rather limited. there was 47 total and each would be added to the journal after scanning. The more you scan of a fish type, the more information on it becomes available on their journal entry.
As a game that offers nothing more than the scanning of fish, I feel there should have been more possibilities to discover. As well as better explaining what each fish is. Wikipedia would provide better explanations of each fish than this games journal entries do.
Don’t get me wrong, the games educational side is fantastic. I learned a lot. But I just feel with the resources at their disposal. They could have capitalised on the consumers’ openness of discovery and really educated us in-depth on everything. Instead of touching over briefly a number of issues, marvels and mysteries before moving onto the next.
The graphics were great, the scaling of the whales when swimming near them was mesmerizing. upon first glance all the sea life is full of curiosities and beauty just waiting to be discovered further.
The lack of life within the ocean was irritating. I’m not referring back to the number of fish available to discover either. There was little to no interaction between the fish. Instead, they would swim through the ocean, peppered with the occasional random animation available to them.
My friend, who is a trained Master Scuba Diver Instructor, watched me play through the game. He was giving me various stories about certain fish within the game. Like a fish that was famous among divers for their over the top curiousness. Leading to them constantly swimming into the facemasks of divers. resulting in the divers having to resurface with a damaged mask.
The fish in question in the game just glides around. Completely lacking any real personality. with no explanation given about the reputations of said fish. I was informed that this game has a completely robotic feel, completely foreign to what it’s actually like to experience a dive. Which is hugely disappointing considering this could have been a gateway drug to peoples curiosities. An opportunity truly wasted.
Mirai is a marine biologist, who’s finding it hard juggling her home struggles with the struggles of work. I understand why this was added, indicating how much of life marine bioligists miss out on, something that is backed up by one of the insights, where a scientist stating she missed a big part of her daughters life because she had to go out on the ships.
I do however feel this game should inspire the next generation. Fill it with positive messages, squeezing some negativity in there in the form educating on the damage humanity is causing. If the game was longer then by all means touch on the problems divers face, But don’t make it a focal point of the story.
It is fascinating getting to understand the tools, methods and mindsets behind those working on the oceans. How passionate they are on what they do and how mothering they are to the life under their care.
I went in wanting to be educated on the subject, and their attempt at pushing a narrative with Mirai having problems back home became an unwelcomed burden on the educational side of the game.
The game’s heavy focus on whales is nice and really showed the bond developed between Mirai and the pod they were tracking. Although I would have liked for them to venture away from the whales more often and onto the other offerings the Pacific Ocean has to offer. I can’t complain about the thoroughness of the whales’ story.
The live-streaming was also a really great decision from the writers. some dives were structured as a live-streamed format. Where “Viewers” were writing in with questions about the animals that they were seeing. Allowing for the main characters to then explain further without sounding like they are nonsensically monologuing
Beyond Blue is a great educational experience and the things I learned are there for life. My main complaint is that they had the chance to open up a whole new world to us. But instead, they chose to cram it all into 10gb worth of educational goodness, resulting in a very rushed story which doesn’t allow for things to be fully explored. Instead, leaving the player having to google things that the game touched on in order to learn about it further.
Despite my issues with Beyond Blue. I would more than welcome a more finished version, possibly on next-gen, A game where the beauty of the sea world is captured in all its glory. adding passive interactions between fish, people and the environment. Allowing the player to really feel like the are on a dive.
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