There’s been something of a backlash against the concept of a ‘wholesome’ game of late. Games that are about compassion and kindness have become popular thanks to the likes of Undertale, Stardew Valley, and Night in the Woods, but criticism has been growing that these games feel overly saccharine or cutesy, and miss the driving conflict needed for a story. It’d be easy to lump Mythic Ocean in with this trend at first glance, yet doing so would mean you miss out on a stellar storytelling experience that carries more darkness than you might expect.
Mythic Ocean defies any meaningful description. Its closest cousin is probably the dating simulator, but without any romance, but there’s also a hint of the walking simulator and a dash of existential horror. You form relationships with a diverse cast of mysterious aquatic gods and help them decide who will build the next world; the trouble is, they all have very different approaches to life that will impact the new universe they come to create. Along the way, you can help them become better people by resolving conflicts, or stir the pot and cause trouble for the sheer fun of it.
There’s a hefty dose of exploration on top of this conversational base. Right from the first frames of the game, Mythic Ocean is absolutely gorgeous, feeling like a dream or a fairy tale as you fly through the water. As you explore the depths of the ocean, you’ll discover other citizens and secrets that help uncover the history of this bizarre god-choosing ritual that you’ve become a part of.
It isn’t all chilling with a ludicrously cute otter god, though. While it certainly never strays into Bloodborne territory, the elements of cosmic horror at play in Mythic Ocean successfully help balance the sweetness and fun fishy times – there are tough decisions that will decide an entire world, and some surprisingly creepy moments help hammer home the significance of the relationships you’re building.
All of this adds up to a massive number of potential endings. Not only do you have to choose who will become the new god, but the impact you had on them during your time together will also help decide if it’s a world run by their whims or one they genuinely try and make prosperous. How much you helped the other gods will also decide how much conflict there is between them in the new world, and so fully exploring the cast and getting to know them all is the best way to find a happy ending.
Mythic Ocean manages to tell a story about personal growth and forging meaningful connections with others without feeling too… Disney. It’s a game about understanding people’s flaws rather than attacking them, but it doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of growing and developing as a person, either. We all have things about us we need to work on, whether we happen to be an adult, child, otter god, or hyper-intelligent eel. Mythic Ocean explores all this expertly.
Every character has depth to them. Nobody’s perfect, nobody’s evil, so managing each of the gods’ foibles and flaws is more complex than it may first seem.
A short but complex character-driven experience that manages to feel relaxing and impactful at the same time.
Genre: Narrative adventure | Format: PC (tested) | Developer: Paralune LLC | Publisher: Paralune LLC | Price: £11.39 | Release: Out now (PC)