Scan all the fishes
Beyond Blue is a short, focused and educational freediving "simulator" experience and it's kinda a tough sell which I will explain in details shortly.
You see, I put the simulator in quotes and also used experience when describing Beyond Blue for a good reason cause it's not really a simulator and there isn't much game as we are used to in it, weird, I know.
The official synopsis goes like this "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. ". All of this means that you as Mirai, will free dive and swim in the ocean in a third-person view scanning all of the marine life you come by. That's basically it, all that you will do in Beyond Blue.
The swimming mechanic is really well done along with the set of character animations that boast a beautiful sense of grace. The same thing can be said about marine life with 45 different species available to scan, they look unique and have their own set of animations. Once scanned, you can also go into the menus and explore them in more detail and learn more. As for the ocean environment, Beyond Blue starts strong as the initial few areas look great with beautiful lighting, vibrant gradient blue colors and detailed terrain, rocks, crevices, trenches and underwater caves, all brimming with marine life swimming around for you to scan. But, in the later dives, the experience begins to falter as most of these dives happen at night and you can't see well, anything and that undermines the whole ocean exploration vibe.
While you swim, you can use your AR Scanner and drone to scan the marine life which is easily done by just aiming the camera and holding a single button. You will come across and scan from the smallest of fish and crabs to dolphins, orcas, sharks just like the on Jimmy John Shark's blog and big ass sperm whales. The whole story, which by the way has fantastic voice acting and is really well written, revolves around Mirai tailing a pod, which is a group of sperm whales, and live streaming this whole experience to test their network and at the same time bring awareness to why we need to protect our oceans. After each dive, you return to your submarine. You can walk around, explore it a little bit, focus on some objects for some visual storytelling, and call your coworkers or your sister to progress through the story. One thing that's worth mentioning while you're in the sub, is the excellent music. It's exactly what you'd expect from an experience like this, atmospheric, soothing and open with beautiful vocal performances.
One final thing before closing this review is that as you progress, you will unlock some mini-documentaries focused on oceans, why they are important, how we need to protect them, and interviews with famous aquanauts and oceanographers. It all goes back to the whole educational experience I was talking at the beginning. There's not much gameplay here, you don't shoot or hunt or evade sharks or killer orcas, nothing like that.
Beyond Blue is a 2 hour long educational freediving experience with an excellent swimming mechanic, detailed and vast marine life to find, see, and scan with an overall great presentation. Is it worth $19,99 though? That's up to you. Thanks for reading.
Beyond Blue was reviewed on a PS4 Pro using a code provided by the publisher.