Set in the near future, Beyond Blue from E-line Media, showcases a dark underworld, deep below the surface that is teeming with life, but is very much in danger from our own impact.
Beyond Blue takes the heavily researched approach to an exploration game, with real scientific data from ocean experts and the BBC’s own Blue Planet II crew, and creates a breathtaking experience that is both majestic and informative. You play as Mirai, the lead scientist of a research team formed to explore the depths of the South China Sea for both data and understanding. What you find down there, however, is more than just the mission. Every encounter lends itself to an exhibit of studied life that amazes and ultimately cements the idea of how small we really are.
I was able to play an early build of Beyond Blue while at PAX South, and left quite impressed. Recalling games such as Endless Ocean on the Nintendo Wii, I was expecting a simple, underwater photography quest, but what I got was so much more.
The demo began with me calibrating a sensor buoy and finding a lost digital whale location tag that had drifted off into a cove. As I approached where it had suggested the tag would be found, I discovered a realistically-rendered large leatherback turtle munching on a jellyfish within a jellyfish forest. Swimming past the turtle I finally made it to a cavernous formation within the rocky landscape, where the location device was resting on a sandy bed, having drifted in from an opening in the rock above. After scanning the tracker, I was able to pinpoint a similar signal, which resulted in me swimming to, and discovering, a pod of sperm whales, swimming vertically. The whales’ massive bodies silhouetted against the blue ocean background, bringing a true realization of their size compared to Mirai.
As this was the end of the demo, I was left with more questions than answers, but I’m more than sure that there’s plenty more to discover in the final version when it releases later this year. What E-line Media has got together so far is an amazing dedication to research and visual definition; from the impressive animation work to the realistic diver movement and control. I loved what I got a chance to play, but it certainly left me longing for more.