by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
A Marine Suit AI
In Other Waters is not your average game, and it never intended to be. Perhaps it's best described as an old-fashioned text adventure, augmented with a visual interface that removes the need for typing 'go west' and 'open door'. Well, there aren't that many doors to be found in this underwater world.
You play as the AI companion of Ellery Vas. As part of her marine suit, you are her guardian, her navigator and her research partner as she explores an alien planet in search of her lost friend, Nomura. You awake to Ellery's voice trying to communicate with her suit and from then on guide her every move and action. Ellery had assumed the ocean planet to be without life but you soon find out that it is not as dead as it appeared to be. It's teeming with life, and danger.
Guardian of sanity
The game is full of suspense right from the start. Ellery is constantly talking to you and the writing pulls you right in. It feels like Ellery is lonely and perhaps a bit nervous as well. Talking to her AI, you, is a means of keeping her sanity. The musical score and a variety of sound effects further support the idea that you are playing something of a submerged thriller that plays out ever so slowly, teasing you to find out what is around the proverbial corner. Somehow, though, that slowness often instills a sense of urgency. It's all very odd, in a good way.
The game is a work in progress but it feels pretty solid regardless. It doesn't always explain what you are supposed to do with its unique interface yet, so there was a bit of experimentation involved in the current build. As there are few options, it's simple enough to work out and Ellery does give the occasional hint on what she would like you to do.
In the early game, this involves scanning for points of interest and setting a course for any that look interesting enough to explore. Marine life and pieces of Nomura's suit are your first waypoints but there are more alluring discoveries along the way as well. There are samples to be studied, puzzles to be solved and much more.
In Other Waters promises its players a developing relationship between Ellery and her AI and from what I have played I can definitely see this happening. The writing is very skillful, especially considering everything has to fit within the two very short lines that the interface allows. The exploration mechanics are novel enough for me that I think many players will love tinkering with them, but I believe it will be the storytelling that will drive In Other Waters' long term success. Intrigued? Check out the Kickstarter page.