Beyond Blue is an underwater narrative adventure game developed by E-Line Media in association with BBC Studios. I had the chance to sit down and play Beyond Blue at PAX West 2019 and honestly, it is an ocean lover’s dream that combines the beauty of the ocean with an adventurous story.
Set in the future, an unknown disturbance is occurring in the ocean and you set out with a team of researchers. You play as lead scientist, Mirai, and explore the vast unknown of the ocean to discover what is causing this disturbance. The demo’s gameplay was rather simplistic. You swim and explore various spots, scanning marine life. The developer at the booth talked about how this game will be very story driven and will also have resource management components, the latter of which wasn’t present in the demo. For those who played on the showfloor, the team wanted them to get a sense of the exploring the ocean and not give away too much since the story is a mystery.
The game’s setting in the future is done for for multiple reasons. The first is for the player’s enjoyment. The team behind the game did not want players to have to worry about resurfacing for air every few minutes or worrying about pressure when diving which would ruin the flow of the game. The second is that the team at E-Line Media consulted with scientists on the future of diving and submersible technology which allowed them to be creative and play with what could new ground breaking and future technology within the realm of reason.
The game itself is beautiful and the animal design is astounding. The amount of detail that went into this game is amazing which leads into the best part about this game: the development of Beyond Blue.
A few years ago E-Line Media was approached by BBC Studios while they were making Blue Planet II and asked if the educational games maker, known for their work on the critically acclaimed Never Alone, if they were interested in making a marine underwater video game. When E-Line media agreed, BBC Studios gave them access to Blue Planet II footage, research notes, and even brought in marine biologists, technology scientists, and oceanographers to help the develop of this game.
The animal designs, animal behavior, the ocean floor, and the overall ocean setting itself is all as authentic as you can possibly get it in the video game medium. This all really pays off. When you’re playing the game you are completely immersed in the ocean, the marine life, and the task at hand. In addition, I really enjoyed all the random facts and tidbits you received while scanning the various marine life.
The demo itself may have been very simple, but just talking the devs at the booth and listening to the amount of detail that went into the game along with what is coming to the full game has me excited for Beyond Blue. The final game will have three different types of ocean depth zones where you will get to explore. While the demo just had the reef section, you will get to explore deeper waters and even down into the dark abyss of the ocean. These depths will be filled with the appropriate animals and allow for a variety of experiences.
Beyond Blue will also have unseen Blue Planet II footage that will be used to expand the story of the game. Players will be able to unlock what are called Ocean Insight videos that will add not only to the game, but additional Blue Planet and educational footage to the game. Players will also get to see and meet real-life ocean researchers that will work to add more depth to the information presented in the game.
Overall, this was my favorite game, Beyond Blue, from PAX West. I played this demo twice, once by appointment and once more just because I wanted to play it again. I also convinced my colleague who was also covering the convention to play it and watched while she played. The game is beautiful, the marine life is real, and just hearing all the work that has gone into Beyond Blue has really blown me away.
There were plenty of times during the demo that I just kind of floated and rotated the camera to look around, taking it all in. There is still a lot that is unknown about the narrative and how that will turn out as a full game, but knowing that actual science and research is being put into this game excites me. No matter where the story ends up taking us, we’re going to learn some science along the way.
Beyond Blue will be available June 11, 2020 on PC and select consoles.