If you ever wanted to explore the darkest depths of the ocean, E-Line Media has the game for you.
In its newest game announcement, the publisher and developer revealed “Beyond Blue,” an exploration-based game that will send players down to the bottom of the sea, learn about the life that dwells there, and make difficult decisions about its future.
Players will step into the near-future flippers of Mari, a scientist outfitted with advanced technology researching the depths of the ocean.
Michael Angst, Founder and CEO of E-Line Media, as well as the Creative Director for “Beyond Blue” said the game came about thanks to the British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC was in the middle of making their “Planet Earth II” series and they reached out to E-Line to make a game around the same themes, examining the future of the ocean and, “have some fun with what the state of the world.” Being a company dedicated to crafting impactful experiences for players, E-Line was intrigued.
They worked with embedded scientists to understand how best to showcase the ocean’s future and spent a year trying to determine the proper way to bring that experience into a video game.
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“The question we asked them was ‘in 10 or 15 years, if you have some of this amazing technology that lets us explore the ocean in a less intrusive way, and allows us to more deeply understand it… how would you use that time,” Angst said. “That’s the premise for the game.”
The reveal trailer showcases much of what the game will look like: third-person exploration, investigating various ocean life to a great degree. “Beyond Blue” will ask players to learn more about the habits, survival, and communities of the multitudinous species that live in the depths. It’s about education, entertainment, and growing closer to life on this planet. Which is precisely E-Line’s mission statement.
“The company’s ambition is to use the power of games through really well crafted experiences to speak to the human condition, help people be curious about their world, and ultimately help them understand and shape the world,” Angst said.
Throughout the course of the game, you will open up your sphere of exploration through using an advancement of technology at your disposal, like AI-controlled drones. Choices of how to use resources that you gather will affect the game and what branching paths through the story you can take.
Time will play a big role in “Beyond Blue.” There are defined night and day cycles which will restrict players in how they make decisions. There are more missions than any one player can achieve given the time constraints, and so decisions of where to spend time matter greatly.
“A lot of the choice of the game is what quests or research threads you want to prioritize and what that means in terms of stakes in the narrative,” Angst said. “We hope to present the player with morally complex questions, ones that have real world stakes.”
He clarified that it wasn’t a game about staying alive, rather it was one about gaining resources through exploration and then using that knowledge to make tough choices about how best to plot your course. Angst did not give too much more information about what quests or choices would entail, beyond understanding more about aquatic life from a scientific standpoint.
Oh, and whales. There will be a lot of whales.
“We’re trying to get more at the more factual understanding about what these creatures are all about, but also visit their spiritual side,” Angst said. “All of the creatures are scientifically represented. We’re not making up future discoveries… That being said what scientists know and what they can publish are different.”
“Beyond Blue” certainly resembles Giant Squid’s game “Abzu,” as they both are based around ocean exploration. But the comparisons don’t run too deep. Angst admitted the influence, but said E-Line’s game focused far more about choices and the constrictions of time to forge a unique experience out of the decisions a player makes.
The game will certainly include the impacts of climate change in its near-future vision, but in a way that displays the world as a beautiful place to players and not shame them.
“All of our investors are impact investors who care a lot about making games that authentically represent the world and provoke people to be curious about the world,” Angst said. “It’s an aspirational game and it’s one that has a lot of hope in it. Our goal is to have folks feel a connection to it, which we think results in people caring about being good custodians of our environment.”
E-Line is shooting for an early 2019 release of “Beyond Blue,” on PC and consoles, though they aren’t announcing which consoles just yet.