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Endless Ocean Luminous review - fin-tastic

In our Endless Ocean Luminous review we take a deep dive into what makes Nintendo's new game an enjoyable experience for fans of ocean games.

Endless Ocean Luminous review screenshot showing a scuba diver swimming through the ocean

Our Verdict

Endless Ocean Luminous is a welcome return to the series. It offers a fun story mode, enjoyable multiplayer, and an abundance of creatures to discover. However, the repetitive nature of the game may begin to wear on you after a while.

I’ve always had a fascination with the ocean. From as young as three years old, I’ve loved marine life, especially sharks; at one point, I was even determined to become a marine biologist. Of course, as you can tell from my being here, that didn’t happen, but thanks to Nintendo and Arika, my love of marine biology and videogames go hand in hand. Endless Ocean Luminous is the latest entry in the scuba diving adventure series and is the first new Endless Ocean game in 15 years.

In 2007, I lost many hours of my life to the original game on my Nintendo Wii, with the sequel Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep also helping me to create many fond memories. With that in mind, it comes as little surprise that I’ve been immensely excited about Luminous since its initial announcement, not hesitating to dive in when Nintendo offered the opportunity to review it.

As with the previous games, you take on the role of a scuba diver with the task of exploring an unexplored region. In this case, it’s the Veiled Sea. Your mission is simple: document all of the marine life that you come across. As someone with a keen interest in this area, I simply love the descriptions and additional information that Luminous offers when you discover a new species – some are real-life creatures, some are prehistoric, and others are entirely mythical.

The information offered on real and prehistoric marine life is an endless source of intrigue and entertainment for me. As someone with a dream of one day swimming with whale sharks, I relished the opportunity to study them, even if it was on a videogame level. As I ventured out on a dive, not knowing what to expect from the unexplored map, I couldn’t stop the smile and noise of glee that escaped me when I rounded a coral reef, only to come face to face with a whale shark.

Endless Ocean Luminous review screenshot showing a scuba diver swimming next to a whale shark and blue tangs

This is where I first truly made use of the photography feature that Endless Ocean Luminous offers, though it’s a bit primitive in comparison to other photo modes out there, providing a few screen effects and perspectives. Still, it gets the job done and allows you to capture those moments of mystery, intrigue, and joy. Though it might never happen for me in real life, I can say that my virtual self has several pictures of the stunning creature.

The shark nerd in me was in for yet another treat as I continued on this specific dive, encountering the black tip reef and basking shark. I’m yet to find one, and I can’t even be sure if they’re in the game like some aren’t sure if they’re in the Mariana Trench, but I hope to also stumble across a Megaladon on one of my upcoming dives.

Beyond sharks, my favorite discoveries thus far involve me managing to find Dory, though I’m yet to find Nemo. No, I didn’t find the exact character, but I did bump into a swarm of Blue Tang – perhaps they were on their way to P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney.

While you can always jump into a solo dive centered on exploration and discovery, you can also swim through the story mode. This does feature exploration, however, it feeds you a narrative rather than just letting you get on with it freestyle. I’m never a fan of spoiling anything when it comes to narratives, so I’m just going to say that it’s a nice experience, and it allows me to play make-believe and envision myself as the marine biologist I dreamed of being as a kid.

Endless Ocean Luminous review - a Scubs diver under water near a reef with an objective marker in front of them

Another alternative to a solo dive is joining a shared dive, which is the multiplayer experience in Luminous. Much like with a standard dive, you find yourself on a map that you need to explore, full of creatures for you to discover and scan, except you don’t have to complete the behemoth task on your own, as up to 29 other divers (for a total of 30) may join you. You get to unravel the secrets of the deep blue, completing research tasks together.

It’s honestly a chill time. Even if you prefer the tranquility that comes with exploring alone, you can still do that. I participated in a shared dive for an hour, and I can count the number of times I saw another diver during that time on one hand. If you and your pals want to stick together you can, if you want to part from the group to cover more ground quicker, you can. The entire team shares the progress of the dive, so should you discover a new species, it unlocks for the rest of the divers, too.

Something I’m yet to touch on is treasure. Endless Ocean Luminous is full of treasures for you to find, which offers both experience and currency, and I have to share that embarking on a shared dive is a terrific way to find goodies. Not that solo dives and the story mode don’t also have treasures waiting for you, but thanks to the emotes system, other players can highlight the spot in which they find a treasure, allowing you to travel to that part of the map and pick it up for yourself.

Endless Ocean Luminous review screenshot showing an Orca swimming with an information box next to it

I’m a huge fan of the emote system. One of my favorite things about Luminous is how peaceful it all feels. While I’m all for having a laugh and chatting with my fellow gamers, not being able to converse outside of emotes helps to keep that sense of tranquility and peace, a bit like some dives in real life.

So, it’s clear that I love this game, but are there any negatives? Perhaps the biggest drawback for Endless Ocean Luminous is repetitiveness. This isn’t particularly an issue for me, but over time, you might feel like you need a break from the sea and research, as it can all begin to blend together, given it involves more diving, swimming, and exploration. If you’re like me and have a fascination with the ocean and all it pertains to, you probably won’t feel the repetitive strain too quickly, but if you’re someone who likes to experience something new frequently, Luminous might not be quite so exciting after some time.

Aesthetically speaking, Luminous is beyond stunning. I can’t get enough of the water graphics, the shipwrecks, the ruins, the coral reefs, and everything about the environments in general. The very first time I went for a dive I couldn’t help but verbally say ‘wow.’ After so long since Endless Ocean 2, it felt like coming home, and the beauty of the game really emphasizes that. However, on occasion, the creatures you see can be a little bit blurry.

Endless Ocean Luminous review screenshot showing a scuba diver swimming in the wide open ocean

Maneuvering around is also great, you seamlessly swim through the deep blue with no stutter to hinder your movements. Speaking of which, the game runs perfectly in both handheld and docked. The UI isn’t invasive, leaving plenty of the screen for you to see. It would certainly be a shame to explore the ocean and see nothing but letters and icons. Speaking of icons, you can see a little button for the map in the bottom right corner of the screen. Tapping that enlarges it, and the first time you do this, it might surprise you just how little you’ve actually explored.

All in all, Endless Ocean Luminous offers endless amounts of fun for both new and existing fans, though you may want to take breaks between dives if you feel the repetitive strain. It’s a great choice if you want an experience that you can vibe along with while also serving as a good way to learn a thing or two about marine life.

For more great experiences like this, check out our list of the best ocean games on Switch and mobile. Or maybe our best Switch games guide if you want to get a general idea of what the platform has to offer.