In Other Waters

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
In Other Waters Game Poster Image
Alien world sea exploration best for the extremely patient.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Focuses on exploration, saving a friend, studying the environment and creatures of a strange alien planet.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You're in control of the AI systems of a suit controlled by xenobiologist Ellery Vas. You get bits and pieces of who she is and why she's there, but there's more of a mystery surrounding you and your decisions.

Ease of Play

Much of the game is dedicated to collecting samples, navigating through environments, finding your friend. While gameplay is easy to grasp, you've got to figure out much of what you're doing on your own. You can sometimes fight controls as well when you're moving from place to place.

Violence

While you use spores to clear stalks of undersea vegetation, no blood or gore is shown, and violence essentially causes the plants to shrink. They do regrow over time. Some plants do fight back, but it's more of a natural response to your actions.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that In Other Waters is a downloadable adventure game for the Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs. The game takes place on an alien planet and puts players in control of an advanced underwater dive suit for a xenobiologist looking for her friend. As she explores the waterways, she'll interact with strange creatures and plant life, cataloguing and uncovering the mysteries of this world. While you'll use spores to clear vegetation out of your way, no blood or gore is shown, and the plants grow back. Players will have to get accustomed to a lack of tutorials and navigational hints, which can make exploration difficult, as well as controls that they may struggle with during navigation.

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What's it about?

IN OTHER WATERS is a sci-fi adventure game that takes players off Earth and sets them into strange waters on an alien world. Players take on the role of an AI (artificial intelligence) system controlling the suit and systems of a stranded xenobiologist named Dr. Ellery Vas as she searches for her missing friend. While Vas isn't sure why her friend has disappeared, her arrival deep under the waves of this strange world raises a series of questions. What are the strange creatures in this environment? What is happening on this uncharted planet? You'll help Dr. Vas search for her friend, collecting samples from the creatures and plants you observe to understand the environment around you. You'll also try to piece together some of the events that may have caused the friend to disappear, as well as make discoveries about the watery world. That includes restoring sections of a lab that will help you conduct your experiments, as well as finding out more about Dr. Vas. Can you discover what happened on this world, and more importantly, save the doctor's friend before it's too late?

Is it any good?

This sci-fi adventure brings players to an alien world, but only the most patient and curious will fully dive in and savor this abstract experience. In Other Waters is unusual because instead of playing the main character, you play an AI program running her suit and equipment. This means that you're not the focus of the tale, but everything you do is vital to the success of Dr. Vas' mission. To help the doctor explore the underwater world, you'll scan the environment, plotting navigation points across the map. The scans will also identify alien life forms and plants to help classify the life on the planet. Players will also use samples to clear vegetation, interact with the doctor as she tries to figure out what's actually happening on the planet, and help uncover the mystery of where her friend went. Since it's just you and her, there's a sense of closeness you develop with the doctor as you guide her path.

The main problem is that the story develops at a glacial pace. Some dialogue about the world has no impact on the story or even the scientific reports in the research codex. After a while, plot points start to feel less important compared to making it to the next objective. It also doesn't help that the game's art style is very abstract, with a lot of simple shapes to indicate creatures, nav points, or plants. It's way too easy to mistake or completely overlook your objective when it looks the same as everything else on the screen, especially when you've scanned your way across a generic map full of icons that look the same. Since you can only zoom in and out, there's no way to indicate new things you want to do or places you want to avoid to save some time in your exploration. What's more, the lack of tutorials and the fact that you'll fight with the controls will demand a lot of patience from players. But if you're willing to put in the time for a slowly developing plot, In Other Waters could deliver a good mystery for adventure fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about exploration of the unknown. Would you want to explore an unknown world? What about discovering new species? Would you be concerned about any possible hazards that you'd run into in this strange place?

  • What would you do to save a friend? What if saving your friend meant possibly exposing yourself to danger? Why should you get help instead of trying to do things by yourself?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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