Whenever Nakana.io is set to publish a new title, I get a little excited because I know the experience is going to be different, hand crafted, and one that carries a message larger than the sum of its parts. Developed by Paralune, Mythic Ocean is essentially a multiple choice dialog simulator with minor exploration dispersed for good measure. Devoid of all action, this style of gameplay isn’t for everyone, but then again, it wouldn’t be a Nakana experience otherwise.
The story begins in stereotypical fashion as you wake with no memory of who you are, where you came from, and what you are supposed to be doing. Thankfully, the been-there-done-that approach ends there as the remainder of the narrative is odd but in a good way. The three hour campaign involves talking to numerous sea creatures, playing errand boy, and figuring out how the world should take shape by communing with Gods. Yes, if this sounds strange, that is because it is. However, be sure not to confuse the bizarre gameplay and storytelling with poor quality.
Explaining in detail would result in spoilers but I wish to provide an example. At one point you will meet a baby alien larva that is really hungry. After performing a few fetch quests, you allow a seed to grow into a plant. The player is then given the choice to let the baby eat as much of this space plant as he wants, which would make him happy but have nothing left for later, or can place a limit on his diet. These decisions might seem insignificant, or even a little silly at times, but will ultimately lead to a different ending. Another example is encouraging a set of trickster twins to play hide-and-seek with a space otter, or talking with a shadowy God as he lurks in the distance. Each decision, which is simply made by clicking an option from a dialog box, usually unlocks a new dialog tree with another character or could unlock a new area to explore. Then lather, rinse, and repeat until the credits roll. There is no combat, no action, and no RPG leveling to upgrade. But what it does have are weirdly deep plot points with multiple endings.
Most of the game takes place under the sea and the player can freely roam each area. Instead of swimming, it feels more like floating and has a similar control scheme as the monitor in Halo’s Forge mode. The controls are intentionally loose, gliding just a little bit when the control stick stops, to create the feeling of free and weighted movement, but the player never feels the pressure of deep sea diving nor are there any bubbles or waves to create this illusion. However, the sonar system gives the player submarine vision that always looks cool and is a very necessary part of the gameplay. Thanks to this x-ray vision, the NPCs and points of interest are always highlighted. Without these beacons in the dark, the player would be left to aimlessly wander the depths to the point of tedium. Another welcomed quality of life feature is the ability to instantly teleport between zones. Further, a dot indicates that there is something in that area that the player should click, respecting the player’s time.
Even though the meat of the game is talking to NPCs and selecting an option from a menu, the game encourages exploration. Each area contains portals that lead to a library. In this library are unlockable pages. Collect enough pages and the player will have more ending options at the conclusion of the campaign. If playing the Xbox version, each Achievement is worth big points and all can be earned in one playthrough so Achievement Hunters should take note (or Trophies on Sony platforms).
Mythic Ocean is a different type of game that focuses on creating a memorable experience and fits nicely within this publisher’s catalog. Like Nakana.io’s experimental Arrog, this style of gameplay might leave some scratching their heads but might leave others with a smile on their face. The non-voiced dialog trees provide a deep story (you are trying to create a new world after all) and offers way more interactivity than any visual novel but action seekers will look elsewhere. If curious, check out the free demo then transfer your save file to the full game.
Also available on Switch and PS4.
Also Try: Endless Ocean (Wii)
Don’t Forget About: Subnautica
Kinda Sorta Reminds Me Of: the trading quest that starts with the Yoshi Doll in Link’s Awakening