Developer: Jump Over The Age
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Music/Audio: Amos Roddy
Platforms: PC (Mac/Windows) & Nintendo Switch
Released: 3rd April 2020
Genre: Narrative Exploration, Adventure, Atmospheric, Indie
Ellery Vas is a xenobiologist who discovers alien life on planet Gliese 677Cc while trying to find her missing research partner Minae Nomura. Ellery finds herself completely stranded in the ocean with a malfunctioning diving suit and you, a strange AI who is to guide her to safety while exploring extra-terrestrial fauna, and of course assisting her with the search for Minae. In Other Waters is a game heavily driven by narrative, and not just for the characters but also the landscapes you encounter, the creatures you discover, and the history of the planet you delve into. There are many secrets to divulge, challenges to face, and some that test the bond you share with Ellery. This game brilliantly touches on topics such as environmental destruction, life decisions, as well as human and AI relationships.
In Other Waters uses a gorgeous minimalistic colour palette such as teal, bright yellows and deep greens. They dominate the screen which you might think is too much however, it creates this very aesthetically pleasing visual that is a delight to navigate. These colours shift and change as you dive deeper into the depths of the ocean in pursuit of finding both alien and human life.
From a game play perspective this exploration, narrative driven, and emotional game depends completely on UI (User Interface). The aeroplane pilot like navigation system you use to assist Ellery around the underwater landscapes is stunning, simple and most importantly it feels like you are doing the thing you are intending to do. For example, you must collect samples of the environment around you to examine, and as you gather the samples you must click on different dials, buttons and knobs to make that process happen. The way Gareth Damian Martin (solo designer at Jump Over The Age) has designed this system really makes you feel like you are extracting something from the environment. There are other mechanics and systems that are also incredibly unique to In Other Waters that there aren’t many comparisons I can make however, this experience really depends on gathering information by exploring the ocean floor. The more information you gather the more the story comes together. I don’t want to give to much away so you’ll just have to pick it up and have a go.
As you explore the topography of the world around you in the blue-green depths of the ocean you do come across an abandoned base that allows you to recharge your suit and access other features such as; being able to further examine samples, engage with your diving suits systems, or may be check out the map to see where you have travelled since your journey began.
There is only one issue that tended to irritate me while playing and that was the dialog text box had a timer. This meant I had to keep up with Ellery communicating to me and if I had scanned the area there would be new dialog displayed in a different section of the screen at the same time. That was particularly difficult to juggle and that also made things challenging when I missed something Ellery was explaining to me. In saying that this is a small thing that doesn’t take away from the rest of the game’s experience or overarching feel.
Eery, endless, echoing sounds of the deep, Amos Roddy does an exceptional job of sound scaping the vastness of this alien planet’s oceans. There are plenty of echoes and tremors of the deep that you hear as you discover new things. You can really dive into the environment with Amos’ music submerging you into this alien water world. Some of the sounds are reminiscent of whale calls or dolphin cries, which all adds to this game’s rich and alluring adventure.
In Other Waters is receiving accolades and praise from players and critics around the world and all of this, of course, is well deserved. This game is a unique and interesting experience that is unlike anything I’ve played before. Amos Roddy’s beautiful and haunting music fleshes out Gareth’s intention of creating a game that compels you to explore deeper and deeper. In Other Waters evokes feelings of wonder and intrigue encouraging you to think differently about the environment, people and almost go so far as to ponder life altogether. In Other Waters is a game for indie lovers, people who want to experience insightful narrative and enjoy world exploration.
Reviewed by Evie Gibbons @eviezgames on 15th April 2020