Tag: aussie games

Beyond Blue Review

Developer: E-Line Media
Publisher: E-Line Media
Music: Curated Playlist
Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, Linux and Mac
Released: 17th April 2020
Genre: Adventure, Educational, Simulation, Indie Game

“Beyond Blue takes players into the near future, where they will have the opportunity to explore the mysteries of our ocean through the eyes of Mirai, a deep-sea explorer and scientist. She and her newly-formed research team will use ground-breaking technologies to see, hear, and interact with the ocean in a more meaningful way than has ever been attempted. The game features an evocative narrative and exploration of an untouched world.” – E-Line Media Game Description

Beyond Blue is evocative and heartfelt in its design. E-Line Media have a statement that says, “Inspiring Players to Understand and Shape the World.” And that is exactly how I felt about Beyond Blue. This wonderful ocean research game was inspired by Blue Planet II and you really do feel the passion and love for the ocean throughout its narrative and educational aspects.

You as the player Mirai love whales and spend time with a family of sperm whales with their new born calf Andrea. You follow Mirai on her personal journey above the water as well as her professional life underwater where she hosts live streams called OceanX Streams, collecting samples from the ocean floor, tracking marine life and of course discovering the mysteries of the ocean. All this to help educate the wider world about the “blue heart” of the planet.

There are in total 8 dives each one lasting anywhere between 15 minutes and upwards of 45mins depending on how much you like to explore. Mirai has her home base which is a futuristic submarine that she returns to examine findings and complete reports. It’s also where Mirai contacts her sister back on land where she is trying to help support her sister in taking care of their grandmother. This ties closely to the research Mirai is conducting on a family of sperm whales, the pod has a new mother and daughter duo whose family also consists of a grandmother.

Beyond Blue is so educational that while I was playing, I learnt that sperm whales live in family units and that the females will stay together forever while males will leave until they are of breeding age. Sperm whale females build strong and lifelong bonds with each other and those bonds will transcend generations. Grandmothers will pass on valuable knowledge to their younger family members. Mirai intends on studying the baby sperm whale well into adulthood and throughout her life to understand more about the species.

The voice acting is fantastic, all the characters really come alive with the phenomenal voice work of Anna Akana (Ant-Man), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Pirates of the Caribbean III), Ally Maki (10 Things I Hate About You), and Mira Furlan (Babylon 5). These talented actors really help bring the educational elements of Beyond Blue to life.

In between dives quotes from researchers, marine biologists, oceanographer and underwater explorers also known as aquanauts appear throughout the game. There is also this incredible video feature that you unlock throughout the game that is called ‘Ocean Insights’ which are a series of short videos from the real world based around real scientists sharing their love for the ocean, it’s secrets and most importantly sharing their discoveries about our natural water world.

The great thing about these Ocean Insights is that the videos you unlock usually relate to something you have discovered on a recent dive. Honestly unlocking these little mini educational videos was my biggest driving factor for completing a dive. I wanted to hear more from people like Dr. Sylvia Earle the founder of Mission Blue and resident explorer for National Geographic not to mention a bunch of other awesome National Geographic residents you get to hear from.

When exploring in game I found the mechanics to be surprisingly intuitive and the UI Hud to be so smooth an effective. Beyond Blue is considered to be an indie development however the player movement and visual design would suggest a much bigger production. It might not be high graphics but it certainly doesn’t need to be with such a smooth interface and wonderfully designed player movement.

I did have a minor issue with loading a saved game however, when I first logged back in after taking a break the game froze when I selected ‘continue’ so I did unfortunately have to get task manager involved to close the game and start up again this time opting to load a previously saved game instead. I’m not sure if this is an issue isolated to windows versions of the game or my PC just sucks but keep that in mind if you stumble across the same problem.

The music gives off ethereal ocean vibes while diving, creating this really paced atmospheric energy peacefully guiding and encouraging you explore further into the depths. When you are onboard the sub however you get this exceptionally curated playlist of ocean inspired music from a variety of different artists as well as the ability to unlock more tracks throughout game play.

Beyond Blue is touching, awe inspiring, educational, and also a challenge for us to rise to the occasion and protect this vulnerable underwater world. There is so many wonderful things to appreciate about our little blue planet and its vast seascapes and Beyond Blue has done an exceptional job of bringing the ocean closer to us so that we may learn and engage more with our ocean environment. If you are lover of the planet, get Beyond Blue you will almost certainly learn something and experience the vastness of our oceans.

Monster Hunter World

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Music: 
Akihiko Narita
Platforms: 
Microsoft Windows PC, PS4, & Xbox One
Released: 
22 December 2017
Genre:
 Action Role Playing Game (ARPG)

Monster Hunter World is the fifth instalment of the Monster Hunter series. For those of you who haven’t heard about Monster Hunter you play as a hunter that you can customise that is tasked with hunts to either kill or trap monsters that roam certain environmental landscapes. The idea usually is to kill them, harvest materials and use those materials to make new weapons, armour and other unique game items. You also have a friendly little side kick called a Palico which is an anthropomorphic cat that you can also name and customise that will assist you in combat. There is also your assistant Handler whose job is to keep you up to date with all your objectives and educate you on how the New World works.

In Monster Hunter World you start as part of the fifth fleet which has been called upon by the Research Commission to provide more back up to previous hunters in the New World. The major focus of the journey is to perform Expeditions into new environments to study Elder Dragons, which are very powerful monsters that play a big part in the ecosystem or each new area you discover. Early on in the story you learn that these monsters migrate to this New World every ten years in an event known as Elder Crossing. During the first initial cut scene on the ship to the New World you encounter Zorah Magdaros who is an Elder Dragon moving towards your destination. Throughout the rest of the main narrative, you are to discover why they migrate and what part they play in the ecosystem of this New World.

There are many twists and turns ahead should you take on this perilous journey, and if you should feel afraid do not worry Monster Hunter World is very big on multiplayer cooperative hunts. You can post a quest and other hunters can join you or you can join a quest that other players post. Not to mention loads and loads of optional side quests, special events and wonderful game cross overs; such as Geralt of Rivia or Mega Man. Also, once you finish the main quest line and hit the credits there is still more monsters to discover and challenges to face. The game almost seemingly never ends even after 50 hours of gameplay.

Something incredible about the Monster Hunter series is the impressive number of weapons you can choose from and you don’t have to be locked into specialising in one. There are 14 to choose from ranging from close combat, mid-range, high mobility, aerial, rapid fire, long ranged and versatile. I originally started playing on a Charge Blade which has to be on the most unique and if not most complicated weapons to master however provides insane damage once you reach the high hunter ranks. It has a couple of different modes such as it looks like a small sword and shield however you can combine them together to form a large axe that you can charge with power to deal massive blows. I later learnt the bow and arrow because some monsters fly and learning a ranged weapon definitely helps with certain hunts. Honestly one of the best parts of the game is enjoying a range of different weapons that can completely change the game play as well as the outcome of monster fights. I highly recommend learning more than one weapon.

The best, if not most incredible part of Monster Hunter World is the monsters themselves. They are fascinating, visually exceptional, diverse and extremely dangerous. Some of them are so hard that you definitely need a full team of hunters to take it down and some can be an hour-long grind. There are moments of such beauty for example during fights you have these scenes of incredible high-definition beasts up against these incredible environmental back drops that are simply jaw dropping. There is one particular hunt against an Elder Dragon where you are set in the volcanic pit with a what looks like a giant flying lion that explodes these incredible red and blue flames. Honestly there is nothing like it.

I should also mention the comradery of multiplayer hunting. Most of my time with Monster Hunter World has been cooperative, myself and some of the Zed Games team helped me climb in rank and experience by hunting together. There is so much fun to be had testing out different weapons and taking on different monsters all over the New World. Something that Zahra mentioned to me was, “Every hunt is different, even if it’s the same monster you fought before you are guaranteed to have a different experience the next time you’re out there.” Seeing massive fights between two different monsters or having your party crashed by an unwanted visitor is always a good opportunity to get the hell out of the way and see something new, maybe even try something new.

A quick tip for players interested in playing Monster Hunter World on Windows PC is get yourself a controller that is compatible, usually Xbox controllers wired or Bluetooth will work nicely. You can play using keyboard, however, depending on your weapon you might find your fights to be more challenging. On a personal level I find the controller to make to experience more immersive.

Akihiko Narita is the composer for Monster Hunter World and has created much of the soundtrack for many other Monster Hunter games as well as Resident Evil 5. His compositions are epic in nature, making everything feel like this grand adventure. There is mystery and suspense as well as fear and darkness. The orchestral tones and rising string sections of the music gives your heart a good stir especially when you’re fighting a Diablos. Speaking of Diablos this monster has some of the best sound effects, tunnelling underground and exploding up from under you. There’s the sound of monster roars that stun you in battle, some of these guys are pretty terrifying.

All in all, Monster Hunter World is extraordinary. It’s not my first Monster Hunter game and it certainly won’t be my last. If you are unsure about the soon to be released Monster Hunter Rise don’t be afraid to go check out this one instead. Plus, there is a massive expansion Iceborne should you love it as much as I did. To give you an idea of how resoundingly positive Monster Hunter World has been received internationally the lowest score it’s had was an 8/10 and with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam you are bound to find something you love. Are you ready to depart on your quest hunter? I am.