There is a lot of talk about video games as an art form, as it can offer more than just entertainment, but only a few studios take it that further. The E-Line Media game about the Iñupiat community, offering us another documentary-style game that, this time, focuses on the exploration of underwater life.
A peaceful space
Beyond Blue is an exploration game, with a strong documentary component, that puts us in the shoes of Mirai, a diver who, together with her scientific team, explores marine life. The game is set in the near future and wants to tell us how new technologies would allow knowing the seabed and its creatures which was impossible until now. It is not a science fiction adventure, and much of the experience centers on imagining study methods that are already used today, and on telling us the relationship that scientists establish with the creatures that they follow throughout the years.
At a playable level, it is a very, very simple title, we swim from one point to another in search of beacons that give us new tasks and new animals to scan. There is no challenge if that’s what you are looking for this is the exact opposite. It is a game designed to relax, to immerse yourself – never better said – and discover what marine fauna holds. In addition to the main objectives, we can also scan other creatures that simply pass by. We have a comprehensive encyclopedia where we can find detailed information on all the species we scan, and the more specimens we scan, the more we will unlock on them, including animations for the three-dimensional models we can reproduce.
We want to make clear that its didactic value, which is what Beyond Blue prioritizes, is beyond doubt and, apart from all the information on marine fauna that we are obtaining, we have real image videos that serve as a documentary to expand the information. That does not mean that we would like to see a bit more playable ambition. There are, for example, three lights: a white one that simply illuminates, an ultraviolet and an infrared, and they hardly encourage us to use it twice. With mechanics like these implemented, you could have at least tried to take advantage of them a little more.
Between tasks, we can rest a few minutes in our bathyscaphe, where the story progresses. We will have conversations with two adventure partners, whose plot revolves around underwater exploration, and, on the other hand, with our sister, focused on her problems at home and at university. There is decision-making – or, rather, we can choose answers – but the vast majority are hardly influential. In the bathyscaphe, we can see some of the objects that we are collecting, as well as listen to music to choose from a relaxing selection of tunes.
Taking into account that we will never get out of the water in Beyond Blue, and it offers remarkable graphics, offering us a certain diversity of landscapes and moments. It is somewhat irregular, and it seems to us that the work done to design the animals is far above the fact to design the underwater formations, but even so, the whole is at a more than decent level. There are some very impressive sequences, which have left us with the dream of being able to enjoy them in virtual reality since on a screen, no matter how large it is, we cannot imagine the magnitude they can achieve in real life.
The sound is at a very high level. On the one hand, we have all the sound effects, which recreate without overwhelming the feeling of being under the sea. On the one hand, we miss that they have a little more strength, but on the other hand, we understand that it is a game that pretends to be relaxing. This is where the soundtrack comes in. We have a number of melodies that accompany smoothly at all times, and even become more dramatic when the situation calls for it. It is likely to go a bit unnoticed, but if you pay attention you will see how well it does its job. In the bathyscaphe, we have a series of additional songs, some vocal, that we can only listen to during breaks.
Regarding the duration, the main adventure can last about three hours, although if you want to scan all the species it will surely take a little longer. Once completed, a free mode is unlocked to explore at your whim. To all this, you have to add the duration of the documentaries and the information about the animals, which we find interesting to watch, and which also extend the duration.
A different and educational experience
We believe that video games are more than just simple entertainment, and it’s amazing to see when one combines fun with educational themes. Beyond Blue is very simple to play, but not everything has to be frantic, intense and competitive; there is always space for more relaxed experiences, where we will learn and disconnect for a few hours. We think the formula has room for improvement, but we also think that if you want a different game, with which to discover things about underwater life and relax, Beyond Blue deserves a chance.
We prepared this review with a digital review code for the PS4 version of the title provided by Terminal PR.