Endless Ocean Luminous wallpaper
June 5, 2024

Strap on some scuba gear and dive down into the depths of our Endless Ocean Luminous review.

A series that had moderate success on the Wii with its chill diving and atmospherics which most people had assumed a relic of the past has returned, courtesy of Nintendo as publisher and Akira as returning developer. The original two games were quite a well-regarded semi-simulation type cosy game, is Luminous more of the same or does it try something new?

Endless Ocean Luminous Review – Story

Journey to an unexplored region of the ocean, where species mingle and giant beasts survive extinction. The Veiled Sea is ripe for investigation, hence why players find themselves brought into the fold by Project Aegis. The player is tasked, along with companion AI Sera and fellow diver Daniel, with documenting and protecting the bizarre region.

Endless Ocean luminous review the world coral

The player’s first glimpse at the World Coral.

The main story is focused squarely on protecting the World Coral with the goal of saving the planet from extinction through the loss of ecosystems. A pretty important message and one not completely absent from the earlier games in the series. Early in the game, the player also discovers the “Mystery Tablet“, a mysterious stone tablet with 99 spaces that reveal themselves when the player completes goals and provides the area with light.

It’s a little odd, given that previous Endless Ocean games were much more structured and the first game had the “hub” boat to walk on between missions. This time the player character is semi-androgynous but has a fairly definitive masculine shape which makes it a shame that players can’t customise a character for roleplay.

Endless Ocean Luminous Review – Gameplay

Gameplay will feel immediately familiar to fans of the series and for newbies, it’s extremely simple to pick up. Swimming is just a matter of holding down a button and pointing the character in the intended direction, it feels surprisingly good! There are of course other buttons and functions including for traversal, for example, R makes the character swim straight up for quick ascending. Aside from traversal, the main gameplay consists of cataloguing creatures.

Tom Nook will give you about 15000 bells for this one!

Using a single button players can activate a scan, this scan can be held for longer to catch multiple fishy friends in one scan. Any un-scanned creatures throw up a question mark icon when scanning and appear as question marks in the UI when looking at the scan results. It’s again really simple to pull off and at least for a while it’s quite satisfying to watch all of the little targets popping up.

Once a new ocean beastie has been scanned players can also take a photo of it in photo mode this catalogues it in-game and offers the option of saving it to the switch as well as a screenshot. Here are some of our shots below:

More scans than a Metroid game.

Scanning also reveals trinkets and treasure which can be collected to earn currency for accessorising the player diver. Colours and decals can be changed and applied to jazz them up but it’s a little limited. Perhaps a feature where new equipment expanded explorative segments would have been a good way to bag player engagement.

Issues start to arise when it becomes evident that the underwater designs, while lovely, are generated and lack persistence or proper sense of exploration once the player has seen all of the biomes available. To begin with, it’s far from a problem with cool icy regions and ancient ruins to swim through but after time the swathes of somewhat empty sea really become quite stark in contrast with the more detailed areas. It’s never downright bad, just a little disappointing that the main story levels don’t manage to have a set, more designed and deliberate map.

A long stretch of sand, under a somewhat more interesting iceberg and a mysterious object that goes un-blended

A long stretch of sand, under a somewhat more interesting iceberg and a mysterious object that goes un-blended.

There is also the game’s menu and user interface design. It’s simple and easy to navigate but it’s a bit dry at the same time. It lacks any real character and can sometimes be a bit clunky. The fact that this is what players are unceremoniously dumped back on after a mission is a little jarring too as a little space, maybe awesome animated sea life or something would have just brought it to life! As mentioned above the boat segments in the original might have been a bit slow and awkward but they had an undeniable charm.

Multiplayer Diving

A huge emphasis has been put on going on multiplayer dives. These are quite fun with up to 30 other players present. It’s a little odd in that each player contributes to the research points, collected by scanning fish and finding items. Then, once a map is completed the players are meant to end the dive and start a freshly generated one.

It’s serviceable and fun for the first few but perhaps lacks the longevity that the developers were hoping for. This has been jazzed up somewhat with event dives to meet rare creatures so watch that space for potential interesting content.

Endless Ocean Luminous Review – Visuals

User interface aside, the game is fantastic visually. Though obviously working with some lower polygon models for certain sealife, possibly repurposed from another game, the sealife is magnificent and varied. From huge monstrous game-only concoctions to the tiniest little fish every creature seems to have had a degree of love put into it. All with animations and sensible behaviours that give them a semblance of life. The variation is also fantastic and includes some very cool extinct sea life that gives the game a certain ambience.

Watch those scans ping!

Human character models for the divers are decent and sport some nice realistic details with a little bit of stylisation. They are quite low polygon but given the amount of fish on screen and the massive amounts of players in multiplayer, it was probably the best choice. Disappointingly the player can’t customise anything other than colour and decals on the characters.

The water itself looks lovely and inviting and has an okay draw distance with anything else obscured by a deep blue fog. The rendering of the ocean must be decent as it sets off my deep water phobia a bit! Where the rendering is a bit flat is the environmental details. Certain points on maps are really great, some caves and ruins have a real character and coral always looks nice adding a bit of a colour pop to the world but these are split up with quite a bit of empty sand-scape.

One of the more interesting backdrops.

It’s not necessarily bad but it does feel a little barren and perhaps brings the generated nature of the game into focus. However, it does accidentally emphasise the fun factor of discovering a wrecked ship or a particularly colourful reef.

Endless Ocean Luminous Review – Sound

Sound effects carry the experience in EO: Luminous, luscious waterscapes provide the atmosphere during expeditions with limited use of stings and music to emphasise things. This experience really is about seeing and exploring while chilling out. It does mean however that the sound is missing some of the nice banger OST hits like Prayer from the first game which gave the game a sort of ethereal theme song.

In a word, inoffensive.

Endless Ocean Luminous Review – What Else?

It’s a shame that it doesn’t compare so favourably with the previous games in the series. The overall experience is nice and chill but ultimately short-lived. If they can find a way to inject some new generative biomes or spaces in an update that would be nice but I wouldn’t hedge my bets for it to happen. There is obviously life in the multiplayer and the serenity of the main gameplay loop but the numbers games can get tiring.

The icy segments were often a highlight.


A really strong title for those who have a love of Endless Ocean’s many trappings. The sealife on show is fantastic and researching them by scanning and cataloguing feels quite satisfying. Storymode presents a fairly expected and oddly structured set of missions that are not too shabby but do feel impacted by the interim menus and grinding to progress. It’s a serviceable game with lofty goals that it doesn’t quite meet meaning it lacks the long lifespan that was being aimed for.

So, why should you play Endless Ocean Luminous?

  • You love the sea and want to spend hours diving around
  • Marine life is something that gets you out of bed in the morning
  • Simply looking for a chill experience where you can play with friends
  • You enjoyed the first two games

But why shouldn’t you play Endless Ocean Luminous?

  • The samey maps that feel generated not built
  • You want to experience a game with good pacing
  • The idea of completing 99 missions sounds boring

A review copy was kindly provided by Nintendo Australia for the purpose of our Endless Ocean Luminous review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out our other Switch reviews and join us over on the Qualbert Discord to reminisce about our favourite Wii games!

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