I’m not ashamed to say that Endless Ocean spent quite a long time in my Wii after its release. I loved the relaxed atmosphere that the game provided and some of the visual moments were quite awe inspiring. I won’t forget the first time a whale passed in front of me. Now fans can get that experience with a side scrolling twist in Dive: The Medes Island Secrets.
One of the downsides of a game like Endless Ocean was that there really never was a sense of danger, even when you were surrounded by sharks. Dive makes sharks the scary predators they should be. There is one point fairly early in the game where you’ll end up in the middle of a school of half a dozen to a dozen sharks and you don’t have enough harpoons to deal with them all. You have to very carefully navigate through the gauntlet of razor sharp death to get past them all. If you get to close to the wildlife underwater you’ll aggravate them and they’ll chase you for a short period of time.
You have a tank filled with air and if the air runs out you drown. Running into enemies will cause you to lose a small portion of your air, a quick burst of speed with a double tap of the B button will cause you to lose some air. There are refills underwater that will allow you to continue your exploration, but don’t be surprised if you have to cut things short sometime to keep from dieing. There are checkpoint buoys a various points underwater, but if you die or surface without reaching one you’ll have to re-navigate all the areas you just finished.
The Ocean is a Beautiful Place
Dive is built on the same engine that powered another WiiWare game, NyxQuest. That proved that desert environments could be a beautiful place to explore. Dive goes to the exact polar opposite making underwater environments a wonder to explore. There’s a filter over everything that gives you the impression that you’re looking through a camera underwater. Your flashlight illuminates everything in a small radius around you giving a great view of the darker areas of the game, and rocks will appropriately block the light of the path. All of the different creatures appear very lifelike and the different locations all have slightly different features that set them apart from the other places.
One of the best aspects of Dive is that you have the perfect opportunity to replay previously explored areas. There are in game achievements that reward you for collecting every treasure in the game and reaching certain dive depths. These won’t be possible at the beginning because your equipment doesn’t let you go down far enough to explore everything from the beginning. You’ll have to locate treasure at the depths you can reach and get new equipment that will let you go down further. This provides a great balance between advancing through the game’s story and just using the world to explore. Every area has new places to access with your newer equipment so you’ll definitely want to go back to find more.
I mean to say that the game isn’t as hectic or frantic as a traditional platformer where you’re constantly on your toes trying to avoid enemies. There will be plenty of opportunity for that, but there’s also a lot of time where you’ll just be exploring at a more leisurely pace. All of the action takes place underwater and you’ll spend a good amount of time avoiding jellyfish, lionfish and sharks, but the pace isn’t so frantic that you’re going to end up dieing in places you really shouldn’t. Your speed when you first begin the game is very, very slow and you’ll really want the ability to speed things up a bit. You can do so by getting new flippers at the game’s store and it increases your speed decently. The problem is that with the best flippers in the game you might find yourself moving a bit too fast to navigate some of the more cramped areas of the game. One of the middle levels is probably the best spot for your speed.
The world of Dive is fairly large and there’s a lot of area to explore. You have an in game map that’s very easy to access. It is very reminiscent of a Metroid style map showing all the areas you’ve accessed previously. Opening new areas is very rewarding, but the game only takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete. It would have been nice to have more areas to explore and even link them all together so you get the feeling of a huge world that you’re in. The ocean is a big place, but too many times in games it feels like you’re swimming inside a big fish tank rather than the ocean.
Dive: The Medes Island Secrets is a great underwater exploration game. There’s a lot to do and for the time you’re there you’ll find new things all the time. It would have been nice to be able to bring along a friend to explore the world together. The sense of danger is better than in previous games of this type on the system and the swimming controls are very easy to master. The pointer shows where you’re going, the B button pushes you in that direction. I’ve never played a Metroid style game underwater, but after playing Dive, I’m beginning to wonder why that is.
Final Score: 4/5 Above Average
Review copy of the game provided by Cosmonaut Games
Played through game in it’s entirety.
Total Play Time: 4.5 hours