What if you could influence the gods to be better? That’s the central hook of Mythic Ocean, an underwater indie adventure out now on Steam that’s big on swimming, chatting, and a breakdancing crab.
A prologue for Mythic Ocean launched in October last year, and last week developers Paralune released the whole adventure on Steam for just under $20. In principal, it’s a visual novel set in an underwater 3D space.
The game starts by introducing you to an eel, Elil, who describes themselves as an observer of sorts. Their role is largely to help guide you as you explore a world built by The Creator.
For the most part, Mythic Ocean pans out like a YA novel. The gods are beset by the sorts of character flaws that kids would identify with. There’s a pair of caustic supernatural twins, Esti and Ketri, constantly longing for their home world; Alethea, a researcher with little concern for ethics; Lutra, a moth-like creature that communicates telepathically and is too frightened to leave its nest in search of new food; Amar, a bear-like creature with four arms that just wants to host parties but has a permanent inability to deal with conflict; and a fifth god, whose identity is a major plot point. There’s also the eel Elil, who acts as an observer and a guide throughout the game.
As you talk to each of the gods, you’ll immediately be given choices that influence their perspective on life, relationship with the other gods and their preparedness to create the new world. All of this is done through branching dialogue, which the game tallies up from your first conversations with the gods. Some gods will like you more if you validate their world view, while others prefer to be challenged so they can grow. The themes are the sorts of things that are good for kids, ranging from basic lessons about honesty and sustainability, like convincing Lutra not to eat a new plant so there’s a more consistent, reliable source of food later on.
As you wander to each of the god’s underwater homes, you’ll meet other creatures to talk to and library pages to discover. The creatures add some much needed colour, ranging from a lonely fish who wants to party, a breakdancing crab who taunts you for not having fun, or an emo puffer fish called Lord Poison who gently asks you if you’ll listen to their song, before eventually recruiting a small group of puffer fish groupies.
Each playthrough takes about two hours, but if you want to see all the endings you’ll need to do about three runs. I played through enough to see three of the five possible endings: I’d pissed off the twins in my run by refusing to countenance their bratty, freedom-at-all-costs attitude, which prevented me from accruing enough good will to make them the Creator at the end of the game.
When you reach the end, you can help a certain god’s become more likely to spawn the next world through an item called The Crown, made by sacrificing a certain number of library pages. The library pages explain the backstory behind the underwater world you’re trapped in, and hinting at how everyone ended up in it.
The motivation to uncover the truth helps, since the hunt for the library pages can be a pain in the arse. As you swim around you’ll see little globules of light, which eventually open up to reveal a portal taking you to the library. Sometimes these are fairly easy to find, but in one instance I spent 15 minutes swimming around an area, searching high and low, only to realise the portal was attached to a dolphin constantly dodging my field of vision thanks to sheer bad luck.
Mythic Ocean‘s key theme is environmental, one borne out in most of the endings and a lot of the lessons the gods learn along the way. But it’s not particularly prophetic or fresh, with no twists or especially memorable arcs that will stick after the credits roll. The 3D environments lose their charm after a while too: once you’re given the ability to teleport from one god to the next, that becomes the default mode of travel, since there’s no other reason to manually swim from point to point unless you have another character / page to uncover.
It’s a bit of light relaxation, and the aesthetics are neatly rendered, but most will probably favour a tale with more mature themes and messaging, or something that brings a particular scene to life like like SC2VN or Don’t Forget Our Esports Dream.
But if you’re a parent looking for a kid-friendly game, one with some light lessons about friendship, sustainability and doing the right thing, Mythic Ocean could be worth grabbing on sale. Just don’t expect to truly explore the depths of the sea, or the gods inhabiting it.