Beyond Blue review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: E-Line Media
Developer: E-Line Media
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

I?m not going to argue that Beyond Blue is the best game you?re going to play this year. Even though my enormous backlog has meant I haven?t played a significant number of 2020?s best rated games to date (by which I mean: I think I?ve played two of Metacritic?s top rated games for the year), I?m still fairly certain that most of them are probably better than this one.

What I would say, though, is that Beyond Blue may just be 2020?s most essential game.

After all, think of how utterly awful 2020 has been so far. I?m a pretty upbeat, optimistic person who tends to look for silver linings, and even I?m willing to concede that between the global pandemic, various social injustices, and a worldwide economic downturn that rivals the Great Depression, this year has pretty much been every bit as stressful and depressing as the naysayers would have you believe.

With all that in mind, sometimes it?s nice to play a game where all you do is sink beneath the waves and explore. And that, in a nutshell, is what you?re doing in Beyond Blue.

I mean, there?s a story here. You?re part of a research team exploring the oceans, and it?s your job to swim around identifying and observing fish. Occasionally you have to use futuristic equipment to solve mysteries. And, via video and phone chats with colleagues, family, and friends, you slowly piece together the backstory for your character, a deep sea explorer/scientist named Mirai.

But honestly, when you?re swimming around, very little of that matters. It?s easy to forget your troubles — both in-game and in the real world — when you?re swimming through schools of parrotfish and clownfish, and identifying pods of whales, and basically exploring to your heart?s content.

Obviously, it?s not complex by any stretch of the imagination. You?re not going to get manufactured drama like you do in this year?s other diving game, Deep Diving Adventures. But that game allowed itself to get bogged down in silliness, not to mention overly aggressive sharks and absurd invisible walls. Beyond Blue has none of that. All you have here is an expert diver, state of the art equipment, and all the time you want to explore an undersea world that?s absolutely gorgeous.

In other words, it?s the perfect counterpoint to the real world. Beyond Blue isn?t going to make you forget The Last of Us II or Ghosts of Tsushima or any of the year?s other big hitters. But it?s also not about to make you remember all the other terrible stuff happening in the world (assuming this game doesn?t make you think about all the terrible stuff happening in the oceans). At a time when most of us need all the relaxation we can get, I can?t think of a game that?s any more perfect than Beyond Blue.

E-Line Media provided us with a Beyond Blue PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-