Title: In Other Waters
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Jump Over The Age
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: https://jumpovertheage.com/
Release Date: Out Now
In Other Waters is a game that some players won’t like, it’s an entirely different experience that will certainly put some people off, and that would be a shame. It is also a pretty hard game to review as there are those of you who will have seen the screenshots and dismissed it straight away, however, please don’t dismiss it until you’ve at least read this review as there’s a chance you might miss out.
I’ll do my best to convey my feelings towards the game while keeping the mystery and surprise intact, as discovery is one of the best elements here. See, I told you it was a hard game to review.
Developed by Jump Over The Age, In Other Waters has made its way over to the PC and Nintendo Switch and is more of an experience than a typical, everyday game.
Jacques Cousteau? Never Heard of Him
The game stars Ellery Vas, a xenobiologist who finds herself in an Alien ocean, brimming with life as she searches for her missing partner, Minae Nomura. The difference is, players don’t take control of the protagonist here; instead, the gameplay duties fall to an AI inside of Ellery’s suit. Basically, Iron Man without all that unnecessary action.
You won’t find extreme action, explosions, or gratuitous violence here, instead Ellery must be guided around in an ocean as she tries to find her partner and document the local wildlife along the way. The story attached to In Other Waters is presented through a series of text exchanges in a window that is a bit too small. As the AI, you can answer yes or no to certain questions and move things along. It can be surprisingly deep, and besides the initial set up, I won’t tell you any more.
Before we get to the gameplay, I’ll address the elephant in the room, the visuals. In Other Waters has a unique style. Presented from a top-down perspective, players get an overview of the map through the eyes of the AI suit. It’s much like looking at a map through a radar system. It’s all very minimalistic but has a Zen-like quality and a simply gorgeous color palette.
Long story short, don’t be one of those people that lets graphics put them off playing a game.
As you can see from the images, along with the main, circular, viewing area, there are a number of other buttons and gubbins to play with. These all power up at the start of the game, giving a brief tutorial of what to do. Other than that, you’re on your own.
First off, the viewfinder acts as a scanner, which is integral to movement as anchor points need to be scanned so you can latch onto them and move the playable yellow dot around the ocean. It’s as simple as that, scan, move, scan, and repeat.
The Gentle Art Of Marine Biology
Maneuvering through the ocean does sound fairly tedious, but it is actually quite relaxing, although I’ll admit if that was the whole game, things could get quite boring quite fast. Thankfully, it’s not.
Throughout the ocean, there is also plenty of plant and animal life to scan and collect samples of. The more something is scanned, the more information is gathered for the subject. For those interested, there is a pretty comprehensive taxonomy section that gives a lot of details about the things you study, culminating with a lovely sketch once you’ve discovered enough information. Effectively, this part is No Man’s Sky underwater.
Collecting a sample can be a little fiddly as, on the Switch, it involves leaving the analog in a certain position before using the D-Pad to close around it. To start with, I often found myself nudging the stick and having to readjust. It’s a minor gripe that I got used to pretty quickly.
Any sample collected can be brought back to one of the Waystations you find along the way, doing so allows them to be studied. As you progress, there are even sample requests that act as side quests away from the main plot.
Collected samples have other, more valuable uses too. On the lefthand side of the display are power and oxygen levels. The power continually goes down whenever you are away from the base, while the oxygen will reduce during certain portions of the gameplay. Consuming samples will top these backup, with certain samples giving more of a boost than others.
I’m reluctant to divulge too much for the other purpose of samples, but as you explore, there are certain blockages to overcome along the way. For example, some sections will have been blocked by plant life. Throwing a specific sample at the obstruction will clear it, opening the route up for further exploration.
There’ll Be No Accusations…
In Other Waters will likely be the strangest Metroidvania you’ve ever experienced, yet it can still be classed as one. The more you explore and progress, the better your abilities become, allowing previously inaccessible areas to be explored. There’s a real sense of achievement behind the progression despite the simplicity of the gameplay, or perhaps because of it.
I enjoyed discovering new critters and exploring new areas, all the while feeling no pressure (bar submission deadlines) and just taking things at a leisurely pace. All the while was finding myself immersed in the world thanks to the wonderfully minimalistic soundtrack that feels perfectly placed.
I had a few instances where the game stuttered on me, but other than that, and anything mentioned already, I had no real problems. In Other Waters doesn’t hold your hand, though. Should you go down the wrong path, you will have to slowly make your way back along with it as there aren’t any real objection markers. This isn’t what the games about though, exploration is half the fun.
Before I played, I was a little dismissive if I’m honest. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the game bland, but I was willing to try it and am glad I did. I realize I’ve done a pretty poor job of explaining everything and why you should play it, but telling you too much would ruin the sense of discovery and take some of the fun away.
No matter what I say, some people will hate In Other Waters, but for those of you willing to give something different a try, I urge you to pick it up.
No game is perfect, but In Other Waters isn’t just a game. In Other Waters is art.
Verdict: If you’re looking for a relaxing, exploration title that offers something a little different from your typical everyday shooter, In Other Waters is perfect. There is a deep story and enjoyable gameplay hidden behind the minimalistic style. It’s not for everyone, but those that give it a chance may well fall in love.
- Relaxing and rewarding gameplay
- Immersive soundtrack
- Good story
- A few instances of stutter
- The style will put off some people
- You may never feel this calm again