Beyond Blue: A Stunning, Informative Documentary – PC Review
Beyond Blue is an eye-opening single-player narrative adventure that takes you on a journey through the deep blue ocean. You play as Mirai, a deep-sea explorer, and scientist working with OceanX to provide a live-stream for an audience online. Her real passion, though, is a pod of sperm whales whom she has tracked for years. Recently, this pod has had a new addition to the group, and she wants to verify the calf’s health.
“Beyond Blue, simply put, is beautiful.”
Mirai’s endeavor to catalog the sea leads you to explore and learn about some of the most amazing things the sea has to offer. You transverse across eight different ocean areas, from the beautiful blue sunlight zone to the deep depths of the midnight zone. Despite a heavy focus on whales, you’ll learn countless facts from a range of different sea creatures. Did you know that some Jellyfish are immortal?
Beyond Blue, simply put, is beautiful. The coral and sea-grass ebb and flow with the current while the solar flares pierce the ocean’s surface. Swimming up close to the animals, you can identify unique markings and scratches. Countless times while playing, I felt the need to sit back and stop to take it all in. Beyond Blue excels in showing the audience the incredible nature of the ocean.
Throughout the game, you must collect and identify various animals for an encyclopedia collection system called the science log. Here you register animals by getting close enough to be able to scan them. As you swim through the ocean, you feel the constant need to stop and scan everything you see.
“Exploring through the ocean feels surreal”
There are over 45 different species in the game, and to obtain all the information about them, you have to scan an animal several times. Filling out the science log felt Pokemon-esque, and all I wanted to do was find them all. I loved the science Log but scanning creatures multiple times felt tedious and repetitive. The ‘Comb Jelly’ must be scanned over 40 times to record all the science log information. Scanning felt more like a monotonous task and took the enjoyment away from the environment.
As you progress through Beyond Blue, you unlock insights. Insights are short video clips that explain parts of the storyline in a documentary format. The Insights include meeting the lead scientists behind the game, individual animal information, new technology, and climate change. These are incredibly informative, and at times, I wanted to watch the short educational clips rather than play through the storyline.
Exploring through the ocean feels surreal, except when you have to go back and forth past the same areas numerous times. Beyond Blue feels repetitive. In the starting area, your mission is to scan a room before returning to the buoy. Following this, Marai has a few words with her associates because the process is repeated. I lost count of how many times the process was to listen to sounds before swimming and seeking them out. As the game progresses, the objectives become more diverse, allowing the game to break into its stride.
Upon completing the game, you can go back and explore the ocean at any level. This is extremely helpful for those wanting to finish the science log or relax in the sea. Unfortunately, some glitches stop this from happening. As I loaded up one of the levels and swam around, I quickly released there was nothing there. No animals, just a deep blue ocean. I also noticed if I swam down too far, my character became disfigured, and everything vanished except Mirai’s visor. I hope this gets fixed soon as it leaves the game with little to no replay value.
Beyond Blue Review
Beyond Blue is a brilliant combination of artistry and education, putting the ocean on its pedestal. The documentary format feels informative without being pushy, except glitches and mind-numbing gameplay overshadow it.