The world has come to an end. All that remains is a primordial cosmic ocean, where approximately six amnesiac gods live. Your job is to talk with these gods, help shape their manner of thinking, and enable one god to become the creator of the next world. So to review, Nintendo Switch has found an utterly unique title with Mythic Ocean from developer Paralune and publisher Nakana.io. The game never really reaches the lofty artistic heights to which it aspires, but it’s a novelty worth experiencing all the same.
Swimming in eternity
Mythic Ocean is one part adventure, one part walking (swimming?) simulator. The ocean comprises a handful of segregated areas, most of which have a distinct look or features like dense seaweed or dark caverns. The visuals are occasionally beautiful, and the exceedingly brief intro area (image below) is so gorgeous that I was impressed to see it running on Switch. The soundtrack matches those visuals perfectly, creating an utterly serene and atmospheric experience, and the total absence of UI while exploring makes it even more immersive still. Even though you never see yourself in-game, you definitely feel like a fish.
There are only three things to do in any given area of the ocean: (1) talk to assorted sea life that have charming personalities but little to no impact on gameplay, (2) collect hidden pages documenting what happened to a previous world, and (3) talk to the gods, which is the meat of the game. There are 18 hidden pages in total, and they are not overly difficult to find since environments are relatively small. The pages can actually be spent to create a “crown” to increase the odds of a given god becoming the creator of the next world, or they can be spent to help one particular god retrieve memories of who your character really is.
Mythic Ocean encourages replay, and repeat playthroughs carry over gallery art you unlock from your conversations with the gods. However, the collected pages don’t carry over, and it is a bother to collect the same pages over and over again. Also, the game does not save your control options, like stick sensitivity and inverted Y-axis, so you have to reset them every time you play.
Talk it out
Nearly all of the core gameplay in Mythic Ocean consists of just talking to the gods — learning about them, discussing their relationships with the other gods, sharing advice. The game provides you a teleporter to jump back and forth between the different gods at will, which underscores how divorced and irrelevant the exploration typically is from that core gameplay. That’s unfortunate. However, swimming around is enough fun for its own sake that it’s kind of forgivable.
Each god has a distinct personality and a memorable appearance. For example, one god is basically a moth larva with a voracious appetite on the verge of metamorphosis. Another god is actually two gods, sibling children with abandonment issues who have lost their original home. For the most part, the writing helps you feel an earnest connection to these characters and makes you want to help them through their problems. But the “best” advice to give the gods is not always obvious, because people are complex. As a result, the first ending I received was miserably depressing despite my best efforts. I was able to mostly turn things around afterward though.
Mythic Ocean has many endings depending on who is chosen as creator and whether you did a good-enough job guiding each individual god. It seems there’s a binary where, if you didn’t teach a god enough of the right things, it will default to malevolence and/or cracking under pressure during the ending. The endings feel a bit simplistic in this regard. Likewise, none of the endings I found felt overly profound or philosophical; it just felt like the writer was trying to dream up fiction stories involving these characters that vaguely adhered to the things you talked about during the game. Also, one of the game’s biggest twists is extremely predictable.
Mythic Ocean is one of a kind, preferably once or twice
Ultimately, Mythic Ocean is a unique experience with its charming god-guiding gameplay and its exotic and atmospheric ocean to explore, and it is utterly immersive in the best way for the few hours that it lasts. However, the endings are not as memorable as the rest of the game. When you combine that with the tediousness of re-collecting pages on future playthroughs and going through many of the same conversations over and over again (though there is a fast-forward option), there is little incentive to replay Mythic Ocean as many times as it would like.
A review code for Mythic Ocean was provided by the publisher.