Review: Beyond Blue
Marine life, and the conservation of it, has always fascinated me since I first watched (and absolutely loved) Marine Boy as a child. Hence it was an absolute pleasure to watch and review the documentaries Blue and Sharkwater Extinction last year for our website.
So when a PS4 review code of Beyond Blue was kindly emailed to us from E-Line Media (the people behind “Never Alone” which I played and enjoyed and was reviewed by Chris back in 2015) I was eager to dive below the waves and see what experience awaited me.
Beyond Blue is a single player adventure where you play as Mirai, a deep-water explorer and scientist, as she dives in different locations to study the underwater life and report back to a research team.
The dives, spread across 8 locations, involve exploring the environments and scanning the various types of sealife as they pass you by. There are set waypoints that will further the narrative, but you are always free to go wherever you like and discover some of the hidden wonders that are naturally a part of the underwater world.
There is no danger of being attacked by anything, and the whole experience is immensely relaxing. I played with the curtains closed and the surround sound system on, and within minutes the calming gameplay and underwater sounds had me zoned out from any problems on my mind and put me into a state of calming relaxation. Who needs mindfulness sessions when you can lose yourself under the sea and interact with everything that lives there?
As well as all of the natural rock and coral formations to be found, and the sealife that goes about its business as you calmly swim pass, there is also evidence dotted around of how humankind is constantly screwing up this planet that we are privileged to live on.
As my attention was drawn to a solitary fish as it swam past me, I decided to follow it to see where it was going. As we made our way past some multi-coloured coral, the sight of a plastic container lodged by it reminded me that nowhere is safe from the thoughtlessness of many people who seem to think that the planet is a disposable item that is purely for their use, with no thought of future generations or other forms of life that that we share the world with.
Between dives Mirai returns to her small submarine and uses the communications system situated at the front of the sub to relay her findings to the research team, as well as swapping personal messages with her sister.
These short narrative sessions are not essential to the gameplay, but do help to add a little characterisation to Mirai.
Also on the sub are various objects to be interacted with. Some are just there to look at, whereas others can do more.
There is a music player where you can select what you’d like to hear while you are walking around between dives. This includes music from Miles Davis, The Flaming Lips, The Edisons, and more. There is also a stats screen where you can view all of the marine life that is available to you and also how many of them you have seen. So if you have that Pokémon “gotta catch ’em all” mentality, then you can quickly see here what (and how many) you still have to find and scan.
Another great feature on the sub is the ability to watch 16 unique mini-documentaries called “Ocean Insights”. These are much like the real-world footage segments found in the aforementioned ‘Never Alone’, and are just as informative and entertaining. Partnering with BBC Studios (Blue Planet II), OceanX Media, and some of science’s leading ocean experts, these 1-3 minute clips are well worth watching.
To complete the 8 dives won’t take too long, all depending on how long you spend just swimming around and taking in the wonderful views and ambient sounds. But once the dives are done, you can still go back to any location and dive again to try and scan what has eluded you so far.
Even when you have found everything, the calming nature of experiencing the world of Beyond Blue is still well worth your time…especially in the crazy times we currently find ourselves living in.
PC, Xbox One, Apple Arcade.
Review by Dave from a PS4 code kindly supplied by E-Line Media.