Endless Ocean Luminous Review – As Chill as Cozy

    A explorative and chill experience.

    Endless Ocean Luminous is the third game in a 15-year-old series. The previous titles were both released for the Wii in 2007 and 2010. The games are scuba diving adventure games published by Nintendo and developed by Arika. In Endless Ocean, the players play as scuba divers adventuring in fictional unexplored seas, with the objective to encounter and document marine life, including animals deemed mythical or extinct, such as Thanatos and Megalodon, while also visiting underwater structures, like sunk temples and shipwrecks. 

    A Shoal of Mysteries

    Dolphin at an underwater distance

    Luminous features a new mechanic in the series in which each dive will be in a completely different environment, so players can expect a big replayability factor from the start, not to mention the number of species to discover, which is over 500. By doing story missions and exploring the free mode at solo dives, players can enjoy their time as soon as the game is picked up, in what can be an addicting experience for casual and cozy gamers. Once scanned, the friendly AI provides the player with technical and historical information about that fish, which can be later consulted via the user interface.

    A brand new 30-player multiplayer mode also allows players to explore unknown seas together. You can either join friends or strangers in a one hour mission to explore as much as you can. There are many benefits to the multiplayer mode, especially because it is the big focus of the game. By marking down items, fish or parts of the map, players can help each other in their documentation work, as well as take pictures together doing poses all around. After completing missions, a special creature will spawn on the map, providing great awe-inspiring moments.

    A Story Beneath the Sea

    Within this story mode, the player is presented with an AI companion character. The voice really does simulate an AI computerized voice, but considering the modernity of the topic, it ends up being there for the sake of nothing and feels like a cheaply made decision to simplify both plot and actual in-game auditory functions.

    Scan of Simurgh Daria, a legendary bird that dives underwater. There is a descriptive text which is read in game by the AI

    The story mode works mostly as a tutorial for new players but it’s very simple in concept, so most players will probably choose to skip it, as the rewards are minimal and the progress is extremely artificial. It’s requesting the player to scan a thousand, two thousand fish for what essentially are extremely short fetch quests with even shorter cutscenes you’d find in a badly elaborated gacha game.

    This is almost a punishment for trying to progress through the story and ultimately is also one of this game’s sins, the unlockables. Yes, this game is objectively a collectathon. Mystery Board has got a few unlockables that, bit by bit, unveil a big picture but don’t go beyond that. There are some challenges in roaming mode that ask you to bring fish with you to ancient things, but finding the items themselves is more interesting than the whole thing. Rewards aren’t much beyond a few extremely dull cosmetic changes for the character, and some different emotes. There’s not much there. The satisfaction from the exploration and discovery ends up being the player’s biggest reward and might be the defining factor in the decision to acquire a copy of this game.

    Deep view of a shipwreck

    The game offers a camera mode that is quite simple but can present some charming photographs of fish, scenery, and even your friends. You have a selfie, third-person mode, and first-person mode. The game also provides color filters that resemble a lot of other Nintendo games’ cameras.

    Diving Deeper

    The game’s exploration and general presentation are indeed the selling point of Luminous. The sea is vast, and its changing nature provides a considerable replayability factor, as well as multiplayer. But the beauty in the small little moments is what truly sets this experience apart. Fish models feel alive. The world is beautiful around you, even scary at times. From the fresh high corals to the deepest, darkest corners, there will be something to find and a fish to discover. By closely watching them, you can even check a little of their behaviors within the environment they are living in. I even got a big jumpscare from Megalodon, which turned in my direction and opened its mouth as if trying to eat us (it might have fallen off the chair).

    Still, in this very topic, there could’ve been a little more, which got some players upset – perhaps some resource management around air and pressure, but then, it could have also impacted the cozy, chill nature of this experience. As a result, this is a very important topic when discussing this game. The industry is not filled with many games focused on underwater exploration. Games like Subnautica are indeed radical, but the presentation of Endless Ocean Luminous is extremely specific and focused on what it effectively is: an interactive experience with the ocean. And in my opinion, why shouldn’t it be?

    Submerged in A Captivating Experience

    The atmosphere is indeed relaxing, complemented by an eerie and pleasant soundtrack. The movement is slow but steady. Yes, the player could use more complex swimming moves, and the HD Rumble could give an extra touch of immersion, but the movement system is enough to provide a good experience navigating the seas, especially because the biggest challenge here is FINDING things, not necessarily running from or hunting them. As a scuba diver, you are researching the ocean. And when you find the fish and scan them – you’re zoomed in to observe nature in detail, almost as if time stops.

    Deep underwater view of the giant oarfish behind an HUD

    There has been a much bigger scenario for games with an open nature like this in the recent past. From people who work their nine-to-fives to children looking for their very first video game to play. From Nintendo itself – Animal Crossing: New Horizons is viewed by many as a purposeless game. Why do you fish in that game, with hundreds of fishes to fish, with different rarities, natures, and even months they appear on? Surely not for the golden rod, even though it helps a little – but why would you even use it after completing the fishing dex in said game? What about Pokémon Snap, whose sole purpose is simply taking pictures of Pokémon

    Still on the topic of atmosphere, the soundtrack is a hidden gem. Eerie, atmospheric, relaxing and pleasant. Weirdly, it does give some notes and hints to a retro, nostalgic vibe from late 90s-early 2000s aquatic moments in video games (which makes sense as this is a sequel to Wii games). The sound work is really good beyond the music. You can hear bubbles where they should be, other elements pop here and there, the ebb and flow of water, and even loud, horrifying screeches of whales and other animals.

    Performance-wise, graphics are decent, and the game runs smoothly on the Switch. It’s no absurd marvel like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but it gets the job done and considers the scope of view of a scuba diver, like the short field of view and draw distance. The art style is modestly realistic but still very charming. The game is incredibly colorful and detailed, save for the divers themselves, which look dull and uninteresting.

    The Ambiguous Nature of Endless Ocean

    While Luminous carries quite a steep price tag for its casual content, gameplay, and nature (which is expected due to being a Nintendo game), it’s important to consider what it offers. The game provides a tranquil, immersive dive into a beautiful world that some (obviously not everyone) will find invaluable. A serene escape for both young and old alike. If your backlog is empty, the high price might seem payable, but if not, I’d advise waiting for a price cut.

    Despite being a fictional work, the title should not be overlooked as a potential educational tool for younger players, as it offers an engaging way for children to learn about marine biology with an entertaining framework. The casual nature, coupled with the simplified user experience, provides the perfect platform for absorbing information in bite-sized elements. This can easily light the spark of a deeper interest in scientific studies and environmental awareness. It’s an excellent gift for young ocean enthusiasts who might enjoy a blend of education and entertainment now and then.

    Underwater view of a legendary coelacanth

    The game may not cater to everyone’s tastes, but it reaffirms Nintendo’s commitment to making the most diverse gaming library in any console. It fits well as a less fictional and whimsy item to the Nintendo collection. It is, indeed, a very niche product, but if you appreciate a slow-paced, explorative, and chill experience, this could be your cup of tea. 

    Endless Ocean Luminous serves as a gentle reminder of Nintendo’s King-of-Left-Fieldness and a scary reminder of the unexplored depths waiting to be discovered by mankind. The game offers an extremely casual and chill experience that may be a treat to fans of collectathons and cozy games, but don’t go into it expecting an extremely complex experience.

    Nintendo provided Final Weapon with a Nintendo Switch copy of Endless Ocean Luminous for review purposes.


    Ultimately, Endless Ocean: Luminous is a chill, relaxed experience that doesn't offer much beyond the surface. The game is essentially a collectathon, with little to do outside of exploring and looking at things. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but Endless Ocean: Luminous is exactly what it aims to be—a title about exploring the ocean.
    Matheus Nascimento
    Matheus Nascimento
    Matheus Nascimento, also known as Tanjou or the Herald of Caffeine, is a Brazilian Games Industry Analyst and Engineer with years of international experience. Passionate about everything Japanese - Games, Anime, Music, Food and even Kendo. 日本語が話せます!

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    Ultimately, Endless Ocean: Luminous is a chill, relaxed experience that doesn't offer much beyond the surface. The game is essentially a collectathon, with little to do outside of exploring and looking at things. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but Endless Ocean: Luminous is exactly what it aims to be—a title about exploring the ocean. Endless Ocean Luminous Review – As Chill as Cozy