Countless Ocean: Luminous evaluation: drowning in repteition

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Countless Ocean: Luminous

MSRP $50.00

“So far as franchise revivals disappear, Countless Ocean: Luminous would not place its finest fin ahead.”


  • Chill exploration
  • Tons of fish to scan
  • Collaborative multiplayer


  • Repetitive gameplay loop
  • Poor myth missions
  • Inconsistent sound and visuals

In Countless Ocean: Luminous, the ocean is an ever-changing pure surprise full of aquatic mysteries. Really uncovering these secrets and techniques, although, isn’t fairly as awe-inspiring.

Nintendo is getting artistic to fill out what’s probably to be the Swap’s final full-year lineup, and its newest unique is a shock revival of developer Arika’s ocean exploration collection from the Wii period. The collection comprises a laid-back conceit that appears extra compatible to a trendy technology of avid gamers who embrace “cozy video games.” It’s merely a calming diving expertise about cataloging hundreds of fish and looking for salvage. It’s a chic idea, however one which isn’t pleasant to a gaming world that measures worth by the quantity of “content material” included in a recreation. To modernize an ancient collection, Arika would want to withhold gamers coming again — and that’s the place this specific dive runs out of air.

Countless Ocean: Luminous’ calming ocean exploration and beautiful multiplayer parts put on skinny on account of unhurried development hooks that flip each facet of it into a protracted chore. With tons of options from earlier installments lacking, anybody who desires to see its miniscule myth to its halt might want to tread lots of water to seek out the pearls.

The luminous world

Countless Ocean: Luminous is an ocean exploration journey with the vitality of an academic recreation. It shares some DNA with Nineteen Nineties faculty laptop staples like Odell Down Below. And whereas there are some gamey hooks and trendy approaches to development, it’s extra about educating gamers details about practically 600 fish (together with a couple of extinct and invented critters). When you’re not feeling the decision to the ocean based mostly on that, keep on dry land.

Divers swim near a large creature in Endless Ocean: Luminous.Nintendo

Those that conclude click on with that, although, will discover a pleasing exploration hook that could be inviting early on. The majority of the expertise is spent occurring “dives” in a handful of randomly shuffled underwater biomes. After I soar into my first dive, I’m tossed right into a map with some stone ruins at its heart. I discover that over the course of a couple of dives earlier than producing a fresh grid, this time an arctic space full of beforehand unseen critters like narwhals. It’s a desirable trick to clean up exploration every dive, although I’ve discovered myself in that very same icy space thrice already.

The gameplay loop of a dive is sparse, however enjoyably laid-back. As I easily swim round, tilting the digicam right down to dive and urgent the moral bumper to rise, I can scan fish by holding the left bumper. Each time I log a fresh species, I procure a temporary description that features a genuinely insightful reality about it. With practically 600 fish within the recreation (together with prehistoric beasts), I’m in a position to procure an informative snapshot of undersea life. The place else would I absorb discovered concerning the tasselled wobbegong?

When you’re going to play, the surprisingly steady on-line expertise is completely the very best strategy to disappear/

Whereas that’s the predominant hook, there’s only a bit extra to conclude in dives. I can decide up shining salvage to earn foreign money that could be spent on beauty gadgets. There are 99 “mysteries” to find, which could be discovered by selecting up loot, discovering tablets full of lore, fixing gentle riddles that require me to carry a particular fish to a stone platform, and extra. Every map options its personal UML (distinctive marine life), which lets Arika invent its personal artistic critters. Budding photographers may even snap pics of fish. It’s not lots of depth, and dives nonetheless principally absorb me swimming in circles whereas hammering my increase button to pace up, however those that really feel deeply invested absorb sufficient to conclude.

And all of that’s considerably extra enjoyable on-line. Gamers can be a part of shared dives that place as much as 30 gamers on one map. Exploration turns into a collaboration, as all divers’ progress is shared. What would possibly choose four hours of unhurried plodding on one’s personal could be finished in underneath an hour when gamers are pinging loot for each other, uncovering the map, and dealing collectively to monitor down the UML by discovering and scanning sure creatures. When you’re going to play, the surprisingly steady on-line expertise is completely the very best strategy to disappear. In any other case, you’re in for a tedious time.

Underwater grind

Whereas the core opinion is admirable, Luminous loses its luster on account of irritating pacing that drags out its development. The true gameplay movement revolves round a weak and poorly built-in myth mode. Right here, gamers soar right into a collection of brief missions that tutorialize options and tease out some wider lore round the journey’s oceans, that are constructed round a legendary coral formation. There’s a light-weight local weather activism theme as gamers work to revive gentle to the coral by scanning fish, however the tiny missions underwhelm. Every solely lasts a couple of brief minutes and generally simply absorb me studying a little bit of dialogue.

To stretch that out, Luminous locks fresh missions behind repetitive objectives accomplished in dives. Nearly all of missions should be unlocked by scanning hundreds of fish. A complete faculty could be scanned directly by holding the left bumper, however a number of the necessities nonetheless took me one or two hours minimal between underwhelming missions (by the point I unlocked a mission that taught me spend the digicam, I already had an album stuffed with snaps). It’s grueling, turning the stress-free tempo right into a dumb chore.

Luminous is the equal of a industrial fishing boat.

The random number of dive websites provides much more synthetic size. If I would like to find each ULM, one thing that should be finished to seek out each thriller and attain the halt of the myth, I want to withhold loading up fresh maps and hope I enter one with a creature I’ve by no means seen earlier than. It looks like there’s lower than an hour of precise myth content material right here, nevertheless it’s stretched over 20 or extra hours counting on the luck of the draw.

That grind isn’t simply current in myth unlock circumstances. If I would like to purchase fresh shade palettes for my swimsuit, stickers, or emotes, I want to acquire an entire lot of foreign money from dives. An hour of exploring can internet me sufficient to purchase some low cost gadgets, however a massive chunk of them require lots extra time. It’s much that there’s such a large quantity of stuff to acquire, permitting me to provide my swimsuit some character, however even unlocking a single sticker can require me to scan fish for hours. And that loop will get ancient as soon as I’m not discovering fresh species as continuously.

A diver swims near a white fish in Endless Ocean: Luminous.Nintendo

What’s disappointing about all of that is that Luminous wipes out lots of the extra partaking hooks and experiments of earlier video games like Countless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep in favor of repetition. You may’t feed, pet, or poke fish. There aren’t instruments like pulsars and whistles. The customizable non-public reef and aquarium are gone. The myth, principally devoid of human characters, is a serious step down in presentation. There aren’t any sidequests or particular requests. Even the swimming has been slimmed down, with choices like autoswim eliminated. With the multifaceted gameplay of earlier installments gone, Luminous is the equal of a industrial fishing boat. I’m simply there to scan hundreds of fish and clock out.

I’ve observed the identical synthetic content material padding in a number of first-party Nintendo Swap video games in latest months. This yr’s Mario vs. Donkey Kong remake solely offers gamers entry to puzzle time trials after they’ve cleared a stage, forcing completionists to replay your entire recreation once more simply to set scores. After finishing Princess Peach: Showtime!, gamers are advised they absorb to redo each degree to seek out some newly hidden critters in them. Each examples double the playtime wanted to see all of it with out including something fresh. It’s a tedious content material remix technique that tries to cloak each video games’ lean runtimes. Countless Ocean: Luminous has the identical downside on a a lot grander scale. I can’t encourage however really feel like that’s an intentional run to create positive Swap homeowners keep occupied throughout a slower launch yr as Nintendo preps for its subsequent console’s launch.

Pure meets synthetic

Although I think about Countless Ocean: Luminous will discover a devoted viewers, its opening moments would possibly ship potential divers again to the floor. After I first soar in, I’m instantly dropped into its first myth mission: a fast motion tutorial. It’s there the place I’m hit with some jarring creative decisions that create the mission explore like a decrease effort than it truly is. Chief amongst these is the AI assistant who guides me. It’s a machine voice that reads textual content out loud like a GPS bot. Each time it hits a comma, it pauses for an awkwardly very long time earlier than persevering with the sentence. It’s an ungainly, corner-cutting alternative even when it’s one which’s contextualized within the myth.

There are some accessibility advantages that advance with that. The AI voice reads each fish reality outloud, which basically makes it a text-to-speech display screen reader. It’s a advantageous spend of the tech in comparison with extra egregious generative makes use of that we’ve seen not too long ago. Nonetheless, it’s a jarring resolution that immediately takes one thing out of the journey’s energy. The lifeless supply of each spoken line feels at odds with the colourful pure world.

The Nintendo Swap simply isn’t succesful sufficient to ship the very best model of a mission like this.

Inconsistent visuals absorb the identical impact. Arika places its effort within the moral area, creating a whole lot of photogenic fish fashions that seize their real-world counterparts. Nothing else is sort of as awe-inspiring. Diver fashions are low-quality, biomes can really feel sparse at occasions, and I can solely see a couple of ft in entrance of me at any given time. Some soothing musical compositions withhold a way of surprise whereas exploring, however I’m left feeling just like the Nintendo Swap simply isn’t succesful sufficient to ship the very best model of a mission like this.

I’m thrilled to see such a distinct segment franchise like Countless Ocean return in 2024. It leaves me hopeful that Nintendo is likely to be extra prepared to experiment with long-dormant IP because of a large Swap set up base that’s raised the bar for each collection that’s graced the console. Luminous simply doesn’t really feel prefer it’ll conclude a lot to dredge the collection up from its cult standing. Its collaborative on-line options are a small revelation, however the monotonous grind makes me surprise if the collection actually stands a likelihood with extra demanding, content-hungry avid gamers. The coolness collection simply wasn’t constructed to scale up this fashion and I can really feel the idea stretched to its limits.

Divers greet one another in Endless Ocean: Luminous.Nintendo

Fortunately, it’s a extensive ocean on the market. The viewers for video games are wider and their tastes extra various. Countless Ocean doesn’t must entice huge whales who must gobble up a whole lot of hours of gameplay to procure their fill. Possibly it will probably simply be a tiny one thing for all of the shrimp on the market.

Countless Ocean: Luminous was reviewed on a Nintendo Swap OLED in handheld mode and on a TCL 6-Collection R635 when docked.

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