With a new generation of consoles boasting all sorts of graphical bells and whistles around the corner, In Other Waters might seem to be a game out of time.
On first glance, one would be forgiven for thinking it was a re-release of a 90s real-time-strategy game, but what we actually have here is something quite special.
Once you start to get used to its mechanics and nuances, you’ll find yourself hooked, seeing the aesthetics in an entirely different light and actually peering deeper into the game’s heart and soul, truly understanding its beauty.
Playing In Other Waters, I got strong nostalgia pangs from games like Ecco the Dolphin and even Metroid Prime. Ecco, especially, as the game is all set underwater in a submarine and you’re using a sonar wave to identify points of interest.
The Metroid Prime aspect comes in the scanning, as you try to identify new lifeforms by scanning multiple types, while also gathering samples to learn more about them.
And the fascinating thing about In Other Waters is that once you know more about what you’re dealing with, you can then use the samples to affect things in the overworld. For instance, there’s the equivalent of a bomb which opens up passageways for you.
But then you can also regrow some of the flauna and fauna in order to change the conditions of the world, for instance if you can’t travel ahead because the current is too strong.
Through the game, you will be supporting a Xenobiologist called Ellery Vas, who has gone in search of her research partner, Minae Nomura. Ellery stumbles across you, an Artificial Intelligence, who she is trying to decide if she trusts.
However, with Ellery’s suit beginning to malfunction, and in the desperate need of a partner, over time, your relationship with Ellery will develop as you answer her questions and understand more of the world around you.
Something I really loved about In Other Waters is how the game really throws you in at the deep end. I genuinely didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing for a while, even with tutorials. It’s tricky and doesn’t spell anything out for you.
But the more you scan and make use of your HUD, recognising how different things impact your journey, there comes a real sense of satisfaction. Before you know it, you’re merrily tapping and clicking away at everything in a composed, enjoyable rhythm.
And playing on Switch is a double-wonder, as you can alternate between using the mainline controls, or by going completely touch-screen. This massively opens up the game to anyone.
It’s surprisingly relaxing as well as you move from point to point, listening to its hypnotic score, casually exploring at your own pace. In Other Waters helps you get into a comfortable routine with its mechanics, but unlike other games, there’s always something new to learn and discover.
But under it all there’s an intriguing story carrying you along, filled with questions more than answers. You’ll want to know more about the AI and the relationship between the researchers just as much as how certain creatures respond to certain scenarios.
This is a truly lovely game that shows us it doesn’t always have to be about guns, explosions, and epic battles to be compelling and interesting. If you’re looking for something a little bit different on Switch, In Other Waters should be right near the top of your list. It looks and plays like nothing else out there right now and that’s both refreshing and exhilarating in of itself.
In Other Waters is now available on PC and Switch
Reviewed on Switch
Code provided by Fellow Traveller