"The game plays out at a relaxed pace so you can really go with the flow and explore to your heart's content."
It's rare for me to play a visual novel that allows true exploration. Sure, some like EVE: Burst Error
had me hopping from place to place to find event triggers, but transitions still felt more like a static slideshow. Enter Mythic Ocean, a visual novel with a 3D open world feel, a go-with-the-flow vibe, and some pretty funky characters. Although I finished my first run in one weekend, I kept thinking about "what if I'd zigged instead of zagged at a particular juncture?" and as of this writing, have logged about three playthroughs. At that point, I figured it was time to surface and write down my thoughts.
Mythic Ocean's story starts with the end of the world. After everything goes dark, you awaken in "The Ocean," which is a limbo plane that exists between the cycles of one world ending and a new one being created. An eel named Elil, who acts as an observer, explains that the various gods of creation have also landed in The Ocean, but they have no idea who or what they are. As an influencer, it's up to you to seek out the gods and communicate with them. Your interactions with those deities and the decisions you steer them toward determines which of several endings you receive.
The story isn't spoon-fed to the player, so it's up to you to explore on your own, discover locations, interact with creatures, discover secrets, and generally figure things out for yourself. The overall sequence of events is similar in each playthrough, but there are tons of subtle options to not only influence which god will create the new world, but how their world will turn out. In other words, each character branch has multiple endings and even seemingly simple decisions can sway the currents of fate.
The Ocean is a comfortable place, so there is no great sense of urgency to create the next world. Such a weighty matter needs to be thought out, and decisions are best made in stress-free environments. The game plays out at a relaxed pace so you can really go with the flow and wander to your heart's content. Because there is much to see, interesting NPCs to interact with, and loads of dialogue to read, the game encourages exploration. The writing is chock full of personality and really brought every major and minor character to life.
Mythic Ocean utilizes the Unreal engine for its lively 3D polygon graphics, which encompass appealing colors, well-rendered textures, delightful character designs, and smooth animations that really set the tone for the game. The main menu has several options to turn off various graphical bells and whistles so that even older computers can run the game decently. The graphical highlights are the hand drawn stills that emerge whenever a character tells a story as a soliloquy. Even the same soliloquy story (e.g. X goes to visit Y) can differ depending on decisions made and relationships cultivated, making collecting all these illustrations a fun challenge.
Evocative location music wonderfully fits the atmosphere and overall vibe of The Ocean's myriad settings. The compositions take influence from several genres, but the soundtrack as a whole sounds very cohesive. I simply cannot imagine Mythic Ocean with any other music. My personal favorite piece was the lush-sounding theme of the Kelp Forest. To chill with that music, I often spent time simply loitering there or sniffing out secrets.
Speaking of places, let's discuss traveling The Ocean. Flowing through the landscape was quite enjoyable, with lovely environments to see, creatures to talk to, and secrets to uncover. The controls feel floaty, which is both a blessing and a curse. The floaty feel perfectly simulates buoyant underwater motion in multiple directions, but became a hindrance when trying to precisely line up with a creature or object to interact with it. Players have the option of using either a gamepad or a keyboard/mouse interface to navigate. Both worked perfectly fine for me.
Reading is part and parcel for visual novels, and Mythic Ocean uses large fonts that are both stylish and legible. The overall menu interface is aesthetic, yet intuitive to use. The only thing I would like to see are choices made in previous playthroughs as differently colored or marked with some kind of icon. This would make it easier to track new, uncharted conversation branches to more easily push for undiscovered endings, some of which are trickier to get than others.
Mythic Ocean is a very cool game. I enjoyed my time with it, and people looking for an engaging visual novel with an open-world feel and relaxed pace will like this one. I wish I had more to say about Mythic Ocean, but I really don't, because it's a solid game that doesn't really do anything wrong. There is a demo available on Steam, so visual novel fans should definitely give it a whirl.
This review is based on a free review copy provided to RPGFan by the developer. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer's opinion of the game or its final score.