Endless Ocean Luminous (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 10.05.2024

Review for Endless Ocean Luminous on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo's obscure simulation series has re-surfaced after drifting off into the lost Nintendo Wii back catalogue. After a fourteen-year hiatus since Endless Ocean 2, it's time for players to return to the depths of the ocean to research what lurks in the unknown. With upgraded technology, can Endless Ocean Luminous capture that same sense of magic?

The Nintendo Switch catalogue has a vast number of games that are designed to bring on that sense of chill and calming xen. Amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life, why not craft an island with Animal Crossing: New Horizons or tend to a farm in the well-received Rune Factory 3 Special?

Endless Ocean Luminous - as the title suggests - aims continues the trend by opening the sea to boundless exploration, with a sprinkle of edutainment for good measure. The unknown of what's down there has always been intriguing to us land-folk. From the adorable colourful fish to more alien-esque oddities. There's so much possibility to blend the known, the factual and educational, with the more fantastical. Does Endless Ocean Luminous hit that level of curiosity? Yes and no.

Screenshot for Endless Ocean Luminous on Nintendo Switch

The game is broken up into three distinct modes - solo, multiplayer (Shared Dive) and a story feature. The latter is the best place to get to grips with the diving mechanics for those unfamiliar.

As a new diver, you're tasked with a handful of missions that progress the narrative further, joined by an AI voice-over and a more experienced diver to help nudge things along. Initially the story sets the tone with a curious mystery unfolding, something's not quite right down there. Just as things start to escalate, the story feature itself becomes oddly gated.

Instead of moving onto the next chapter, these are locked or gated by extremely high number of creatures to scan. The lowest being 500, incrementing to thousands to log. In the vastness of the ocean with plenty of species on offer, it sounds easily achievable on paper. Unfortunately, spawns aren't as frequent, leading to multiple hours spent in the solo or multiplayer dives to try and rack up enough points to allow the story to progress.

Its jarring and whilst it does pad out the experience, the story gets to a point where the drive to keep unlocking content simply fizzles out. Ultimately the grind isn't worth it - a repetitive cycle with little substance beyond the initial intrigue. An extended tutorial that doesn't have much heart.

Screenshot for Endless Ocean Luminous on Nintendo Switch

Visually the game isn't perhaps the most technically impressive on the system, which is a shame given that Nintendo are swimming towards the twilight days of the Nintendo Switch. Environments, however, are bright and nicely detailed, each procedurally generated for each dive. There's an initial curiosity about how it all comes together, what's round the corner, the sense of vastness and mystery. However, more variety in architecture and man-made wreckage would have been good to keep things a little fresher. The more runs and more dives players take, the more the game becomes overly similar.

Whilst procedurally generated maps in theory makes for variety each time, visual design aside it does pose an issue: will certain species or treasure be present in the current map? Ordinarily this wouldn't be much of an issue, but certain story points require specific catches. It becomes a dice roll each time - almost swimming around aimlessly, hoping this run would be the one to nudge the campaign along.

Screenshot for Endless Ocean Luminous on Nintendo Switch

Despite the lukewarm story feature, the real stars of the show are the abundance of species to log. From traditional fish and eels to larger, more impressive beasts like sharks and whales. Developer Akira has paid a lot of attention to the details and more edutainment side of proceedings - there are hundreds to discover this time round. The draw of seeing something new does admittedly work well, when it happens, but again the random maps don't lend it to it always being the case.

Beyond swimming around, the creatures don't do all too much, however. Yes, this is a diving game, and the marine life should be doing just that. But there's an almost soulless feel to how they interact with one another and the surrounding environment. They don't. Endless Ocean Luminous is designed to be a relaxing, chilled experience, but at times it becomes increasingly sedate with zero tonal shifts.

To bring a little bit more life into proceedings, there is a multiplayer mode where players can explore the same map together online. Being able to dive with fellow human players does make a difference, fortunately, and adds much needed heart into what was already a cold experience.

Screenshot for Endless Ocean Luminous on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Endless Ocean Luminous caught a lot of attention amongst fans of the series when announced. Those who enjoy long, peaceful diving sessions may well feel at home with Endless Ocean Luminous. It's a formula that, on paper, had a lot of potential to have opened up the flood-gates (pun intended) for a comprehensive diving experience - especially with the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch. Initially it's bright and intriguing but drifts off into the mundane fairly quickly.

Developer

Akira

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Simulation

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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