Mythic Ocean (2020)
Disclaimer: I'm very close to this game because my partner is one of the Paralune developers. won't be ranking it on my list of reviewed games since I feel I would be biased. I've been involved with testing the game for a while and I played the final build before release, which is why this is my only release-day game review.
I've been looking forward to writing this review for a very long time now, and I've been awaiting release of this game even before I started writing reviews for Sleepy Toadstool. I first played a demo of Mythic Ocean in 2018, a few months after I met my partner. I've had the chance to see this project grow and observe how much devotion and hard work has gone in to it. Today's the day: Mythic Ocean officially released this morning, so I thought I'd celebrate it by having this review right on time. Mythic Ocean is an underwater exploration adventure where your choices and interactions with mythical gods influence the world that is created.
Mythic Ocean starts you off, interestingly enough, outside of the ocean. You're in what seems to be a cozy library, impressive and mysterious all at once. You get a sense of importance about your role, but you don't know who or what you are yet in the context of the game. Soon after, you're in the ocean exploring some mysterious underwater ruins and you're given an explanation and mission by Elil, a somewhat suspicious but helpful eel. From there on, you're free to explore the ocean and talk to all of the inhabitants, including the could-be gods of the world. You also start to discover pieces of written history about the world that existed before, and how events transpired with the previous god. You collect these pages out of order, putting together the puzzle to get closer to understanding. This is a perfect example of collectibles that I feel are very worthwhile. Since I genuinely wanted to learn more about the lore and secrets of this world, I made sure to get every single one.
The first time I played the Mythic Ocean, I spent a good hour just wandering around and diving out and in to the water. The environment is incredibly peaceful and immersive, especially in the Kelp Forest. The freedom you have to speed through the waters and dash out into the air doesn't get old. The seaweed and plants drifting in the water look incredibly realistic, yet vibrant and fantastical. The underwater world is full of detail and mysterious items. Mythic Ocean could serve as a peaceful underwater swimming simulator before even approaching the story.
Once Elil sends you on your way, you encounter these gods, who are seemingly just majestic and cute creatures who inhabit this sea. They're all very different one another - some outgoing and warm, others shy and confused. Regardless, all of them will be affected by your interactions with them. Depending on how you approach them, the events will unfold accordingly, including interactions with one another. You may quickly find your favorite, then discover much more story and development that could change your mind. Amar, the otter, and Lutra, the bug, have already shown to be fan favorites evoking some wonderful fan art. These characters are flawed in their own ways, too, and it's on you to either reinforce those bad habits or lead them on the right path.
Mythic Ocean finds itself at a very peculiar intersection of "incredibly cute and heartwarming" and "mysterious and ominous". The game starts off warm and inviting, but the turn of events can slowly turn darker depending on your interactions and choices. The characters you interact with are cute, but they also have complex relationships and stories of their own for you to unravel. The soundtrack reflects this as well, containing very bubbly, bright music as well as mysterious, darker melodies. It's an incredible soundtrack that's perfect for relaxing or putting your brain at ease while you work. Mythic Ocean definitely takes some unexpected turns in its mood and environment as you progress. I won't spoil anything, but the ocean hides quite a bit of secrets and unknowns below the surface (literally). No matter what path you end up on, the decisions will be weighty, leading to emotional and impactful moments.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Mythic Ocean, despite its beautiful art style, is the personality and dialogue you get from every single character, no matter how short the interaction. Every conversation is a surprise and different from the last; this strongly gives the characters their own characteristics. Some of them ponder the meaning of existence with you, others flirt with you, and one even debuts their heavy metal anthem to you. My favorite character of all? Zam, the break-dancing crab who stole my heart the first time I saw it. However, so many characters had interactions that stuck with me and made me stop and reflect for a moment, or made me laugh by myself.
Mythic Ocean can be completed in about 4-6 hours, but in that time you'll only get one of very multiple possible endings. The choices you make, no matter how small they seem, all affect the final outcome and specific ending you receive. It would take many playthroughs to see the full scope of the game, so it has incredible replay value, especially if you want to focus on a different character the next time around.
Mythic Ocean is incredibly unique even among indie games due its art style and its branching narrative. It is moving, wholesome, witty, and times even trippy. It's very special to me, of course, but I can say from watching many others play it for the first time that I absolutely recommend this very accessible game to anyone, although you should prepare to make some difficult and deep decisions.
Played on: PC
Playtime: 6 hrs