In Other Waters Review
Is alien life possible, and what would you do if you stumbled upon it? This is the premise of In Other Waters, where we play as a mysterious AI with the capacity to understand human beings, something that xenobiologist Ellery Vas is intrigued, yet comforted, by. With full command of where Ellery goes, we navigate through a mysterious alien ocean together, making stops along the way for when she sees something unknown and for her to record the new findings. Like with all research and discovery, it takes time — new places and information must be logged, and exploration isn’t something that can be completed overnight. It is a long and tiring process that requires concentration, diligence, and an open mind to finding something new. It is also a creative process, requiring one to figure out how to interact with a new species, how to best utilize the technology they have on hand, and how to navigate uncharted waters with limited resources. Through this, we begin to develop a close bond with Ellery as we wander together into the unknown to discover more than we had ever imagined.
Use Your Imagination
A lot of what we experience is through reading, which requires the player to have an imaginative mind when processing the information from this game. As a computer, what we see is vastly different from what a human being would see. Instead of looking at the vibrant colors and movements of these new species that Ellery is describing in her notes, we see a minimalistic computer screen with dots and small shapes to symbolize places in the map. The color scheme is comforting however, with the main UI being shades of blue-ish teal painting the screen and a muted yellow to represent things we can interact with. The screen does change into different bold shades and colors to show different areas of the map, but regardless of what color it is the visuals are still comfortable for the eyes.
Ellery’s dialogue is brilliant and brings us into the mind of somebody who is worried, mesmerized, and constantly facing the unknown. When she sees something new, she would think out loud and ramble on about the traits and characteristics of the species she is looking at, painting us a picture of how the world looks to her. It truly feels as if we are part of a new discovery where a scientist is eagerly sharing her findings with you. Even though this all appears as text at the bottom, I was able to imagine the world quite vividly and feel her concerns and excitement. While we are unable to actually see this world for ourselves, it isn’t all bad because the current setup allows for us to concentrate on the details rather than on the graphics of an alien coral reef.
As you may have already gathered, most of the action that happens In Other Waters is understood through reading. In fact, there is a lot of reading. Every few seconds, there is something new to read. There is a lot of information coming in, and you are constantly painting a new picture of the environment in your head. You have to be in the right mindset to play this game as the pacing is also quite slow – which makes sense since you are navigating through new places, discovering new species, and often needing to head back to the base to recharge and analyze your findings. The slowness and the heavy reading requires your full attention to properly immerse yourself into this world, which can be tough if you are looking for more of a visual journey.
Pacing aside, there is a lot to be discovered in this impressive game. At first I was unsure of what I was doing; my fingers were fumbling with every command and suggestion Ellery made and I was having difficulty understanding what was being asked of me. However, as I continued to navigate to different areas of the map, I started to really dive into it. I was swiftly making decisions, collecting samples and throwing stuff into the water to uncover new areas, using alien species to charge our fuel, and helping Ellery descend into caves, swim past currents, and heading into every nook and cranny to find as much as possible. Personally, I prefer a little more action than this, but it is undoubtedly a well-written game and relaxing experience if that is what you’re looking for.
In Other Waters is a slow-paced and oddly satisfying game that asks for your patience and imagination. It is like reading a book where you are transported into a completely different world, and with each discovery Ellery makes the environment becomes more detailed and beautiful. With full control of the expedition that engages the player from the moment the game starts, In Other Waters is highly interactive and unapologetically detailed, a little slower and a lot more reading than I would have preferred, but an overall impressive experience.
***Nintendo Switch review code provided by the publisher.***
- Highly interactive requiring imagination
- Soothing and bold colors with slick design
- Well-written details of fictional ecosystem
- Lots of reading involved
- Slow pacing