In Other Waters Review
Reviewed on Nintendo SwitchAlso available on PC, Apple Mac and Nintendo Switch
In Other Waters is wildly different from other games I have played before. From the beautiful design of the to the intriguing narrative, the game has a lot to offer.
You play as a piece of Artificial Intelligence, helping a stranded xenobiologist, Ellery Vas, as she searches for her partner in a vast uncharted alien ocean. The goal of the game is to figure out what happened to Minae whilst cataloguing and collecting samples from the planet, discovering its mysteries as you go.
The beginning of the game does a wonderful job of setting the scene, the calming music paired with the beautiful visuals hooked me immediately. Prior to starting the game, I had no idea what it was about and on realising I was playing as the A.I, was a great surprise.
To begin with, the HUD is at first overwhelming to get used to, there are a lot of different functions that aren’t fully explained. This did frustrate me because I felt it took me longer than it should have done to get the hang of everything. However, once I realised how the game was teaching me things it began to make a lot more sense.
The game very cleverly utilises colour to show you what functions of the suit you can and can’t access at any given time, and once I realised this everything made a lot more sense. It is definitely a ‘show don’t tell’ kind of game. Whilst I appreciate this, I do think it needed a slightly more in-depth tutorial, to begin with as I wasn’t sure why it explained some things and not others.
This use of colour is wonderfully executed, it's very clean, simple and easy on the eyes. There are so many other games, where you find yourself inside a suit and the interface is unbearably messy and complicated; but In Other Waters does a great job of creating a HUD that, whilst has a lot to it, it still relatively clean and easy to understand, once you get the hang of it.
The use of topography is such a great choice for the game, again keeping with that simple and clean look, but able to convey height and depth wonderfully. When you decent into a really deep area of the map, it is so effective and despite it being 2D you can really feel the sense of foreboding you might get in a 3D game when delving deeper into uncharted waters.
The topography also lets your imagination fill in the blanks, aided by the dialogue from Ellery. You can really let your imagination take control as each piece of landscape, flora or fauna is described, creating a rich world full of life. The game is surprisingly detailed and not just with the narrative, there are little things, like the oxygen tank meter rising and falling with the breath of Ellery that keeps reminding you there is another character, the one you are keeping alive in the game.
The gameplay itself is very slow-paced and is perhaps why I wasn’t as hooked as others might be. This definitely isn’t a game for the impatient. However, if you are looking for a game that is relaxing and not too rip-roaring then In Other Waters is for you. What drives this game forward, for me isn’t the gameplay, but the narrative, that is intriguing from the start and only gets more so.
Overall, In Other Waters is a (mostly) relaxing exploration game that is both beautiful and captivating that really stretches the imagination. Despite it taking a little while to get used to I think this is a really strong game that has a lot going for it.