REVIEW: ‘Beyond Blue’ is Breathtaking Science (Xbox One)

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Beyond Blue Release

Beyond Blue is an underwater narrative adventure game developed by E-Line Media in association with BBC Studios. Set against the near-future backdrop of Earth’s oceans, Beyond Blue features the scientific support of real-world exploration and outreach initiative OceanX, embracing its minimally invasive exploration techniques. It tells the story of a crew of scientists – Mirai, André, and Irina – who set out to test their “Ocean Sense Network,” which has the power to shine a literal light on the unexplored depths of the ocean as they unravel its endless mysteries.

Beyond Blue sends the player into the depths of the ocean as Mirai, a diver for a research team studying whales in the ocean. Now, there are a few other characters you interact with while on dives or in the sub as you communicate through calls that occur between dives. Each of these characters have their own background stories. But for Mirai, you get to see the difficulties of being a scientist. If you’re unfamiliar, the life of a scientist, especially one that travels and works in the “field”, can take a toll on families and you get to see through conversations between Mirai and her sister Ren.

Beyond Blue’s gameplay is rather simple. The majority of your time is spent swimming around the vast ocean exploring and observing various marine life. Each dive you take consists of completing about two or three tasks before you return to your sub. The tasks themselves aren’t hard since most of them are collecting samples, and scanning marine life. The only part that can be difficult is doing an advance scan. With this, you deploy a ray drone to get a closer look at sea-life and the controls take little bit getting use to and depending on size and speed of the animal. This can get a little frustrating as you try to maneuver the camera into the correct place.

Once you complete each dive you return to your sub for a debriefing. Sadly, the sub is by far the least interesting part of the game, since there isn’t much to do there, other than make a few calls to move the story forward and “prep” for your next dive. Now, there are a few cool tidbits within the sub like the music and getting the chance to check out all of the “science logs.” The music on the sub is the by far the best part of being on the sub but the “science logs” can be accessed at any time within the game which means that there just isn’t much that the sub offers other than a realistic feel of being a diver on a research team.

Beyond Blue

If you are looking for lots of action then this isn’t the game for you. While this slow very simple gameplay may be a turn off to some people it really is designed to almost be a science simulator. And to be honest, anyone that has ever worked at a field site or in a lab knows that while science is exciting, doing the research itself lot of times isn’t necessarily that thrilling. There can be quite bit of tasks that can be mundane and plenty of down time. You get that feeling while playing Beyond Blue.

Some dives are as simple as swimming from point A to point B to scan an animal but the game does a great job of giving you a pay off much like real research. Beyond Blue delivers plenty of “wow” look at that moments that will captivate players. This is what is expect by a game that was made with the help of scientists and designed to be as accurate to marine life as they could possibly get it. There are plenty of times within the game that you feel like you are conducting real exploring and deep-water science. This even includes that part of your dives is doing a livestream of what your are suppose to accomplish on this dive. These are quite common these days among scientists are they gave a way for viewers and general public to see what is out there and be involved without having to go dive themselves to deeps parts of the ocean.

The amount of detail that went into Beyond Blue is tremendous. This is one of the most visually beautiful games I have ever played. The detail in the animal design, plant design, reef design, and even ocean lighting is just unbelievable. One of Beyond Blue’s goals was to be the most accurate depiction of being an oceanographer. This isn’t just from a gameplay standpoint, but also for the animal design one. One of the best examples of this and the thing that really impressed was as you scan more of the same creatures you unlock previews of their behaviors and while it may seem subtle animal these small little details are very vital to animal behaviorists so was really neat seeing it in a game. This was something I have never seen taken into account in a game that involved exploring animals. There is so much exploring in this game that I found my self just swimming around scanning creatures and forgot what the task was that I was suppose to be doing.  I mentioned how much enjoyed the music while hanging out on the sub, well the music is just as enjoyable when you are on a dive. It is very soothing and really sets the tone and allows for that feel of being in the ocean.

Overall, Beyond Blue is an educational science simulator. The core of the game is based in actual science by actual real world experts. Whether it be all the animal facts and ocean design or the 17 mini-documentaries called Ocean Insights, Ocean Insights are short videos taken from Blue Planet II that give insight from real experts. This game isn’t fast and it isn’t hard, but it was never intended to be. It is intended to showcase and highlight the wonders of the ocean. Allowing players to see and experience things that very people on the planet have ever done. There is still lot about the ocean that we don’t know about and Beyond Blue does an amazing job of showcasing that there is still plenty left to explore on this planet.

Beyond Blue is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Apple Arcade now.


Beyond Blue
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL; DR

Beyond Blue is an educational science simulator. The core of the game is based in actual science by actual real world experts. Whether it be all the animal facts and ocean design or the 17 mini-documentaries called Ocean Insights, Ocean Insights are short videos taken from Blue Planet II that give insight from real experts. This game isn’t fast and it isn’t hard, but it was never intended to be. It is intended to showcase and highlight the wonders of the ocean.