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Endless Ocean Luminous Is The Perfect Relaxing Game If You’re Sick Of Farming

Under the sea.

key art from Endless Ocean Luminous
Inverse Recommends

Cozy games have been on the rise in the past few years, mostly focusing on replicating the feeling of doing crafts and even completing chores. Washing a car, straightening up your living space, and farming might not be fun in real life, but cozy games turn the repetition into a selling point, letting players focus on familiar, comforting tasks instead of the stressful combat that defines so many games. I’ve played and enjoyed my share of farming and crafting games, but with Endless Ocean Luminous out now on Nintendo Switch, my favorite cozy game may just be about something that sounds terrifying to me in real life — deep-sea diving.

The first Endless Ocean game launched on the Nintendo Wii in 2007 and later got a sequel on the same console. But since that 2010 follow-up, the series has lain dormant long enough to mostly be forgotten. While Endless Ocean Luminous may not usher in a rebirth of the series on Switch, it’s the perfect game for players with farming fatigue who still want a game all about good vibes.

Endless Ocean Luminous marks the return of a series that’s been dormant for over a decade.

In Endless Ocean Luminous, players take on the role of a deep-sea diver working for an organization called Aegis, which is devoted to protecting the World Coral. Essentially a magical version of real-world coral reefs — which play a pivotal role in maintaining ocean life — the World Coral is the heart of the ocean ecosystem, and without it, a major catastrophe will befall Earth. At the start of the game, the World Coral is rotting before Aegis’ eyes, but fortunately, you can save it by scanning and cataloging the ocean’s fish, which releases a special light that somehow miraculously heals the coral.

That’s all explored through the game’s story mode, which takes place over a series of short levels that largely seem geared toward showing new players the ropes. The story itself is extremely thin, filled with a kind of corny earnestness that feels like it would still be more at home on the Wii than the Switch. There’s something genuinely enjoyable about its guileless storytelling, but it’s nowhere near the best part of the game.

The real point of Endless Ocean Luminous is its dive mode. Playable solo or with up to 30 people at once, each expedition puts players into a massive ocean map that changes every time you embark on a new dive. Using a special scanner, you can scope out the fish in each environment, which adds them to an in-game catalog and lets you take a picture for your photo album. Scattered throughout each map are a few specific scanning targets, and scanning each one will summon a UML (or, unique marine life) — rare lifeforms often based on mythical or extinct animals.

Swimming with sea creatures is one of the most relaxing video game experiences I’ve had in ages.


UMLs are some of the most visually impressive creatures in the game, worth pursuing just to take a look at them. While it’s fun tracking them down in single-player mode, multiplayer brings a new dimension to the pursuit. Endless Ocean Luminous is a chill game, and even in multiplayer, you’re working together with your fellow divers. But there’s a lightly competitive element to scanning the region’s rare fish as well, since every time one is scanned, everyone on a dive gets a notification of who found it. Ultimately, the game isn’t about racing to find rare animals, but helping to reach a dive’s objectives feels like playing on a team and scoring a point for yourself all at once.

Multiplayer dives generally are where Endless Ocean Luminous comes alive. Scanning fish and uncovering the map earns you points to customize your diver’s gear and unlock emotes, which are your only form of communication with other players. Running into a diver, doing an underwater backflip, then hunting for rare sea life together is a real joy, the fleeting nature of the connection giving it some of the charge of Journey’s silent co-op.

Endless Ocean Luminous’ multiplayer dives are a great mix of cooperation and chill competition.


In both single-player and multiplayer dives, Endless Ocean Luminous has the same time-devouring quality of the best cozy games. I got the chance to play in two multiplayer sessions before the game’s release, both lasting an hour, and both times when the clock ran out, I could have sworn I’d only been playing for 15 minutes at the most. While it’s a bit lonelier, solo dives likewise melt the time away as you fill out your collection with new finds.

Endless Ocean Luminous feels like a game of intentionally limited ambitions. Aside from its simple ecological message, it’s a game entirely about the joy of exploring an unknown environment and taking note of what’s there without disturbing it. That’s actually a far cry from most cozy games, which tend to emphasize extracting resources and leaving your mark on the world rather than just cataloging it. Endless Ocean Luminous also feels like it’s pushing against the games industry’s obsession with making games bigger, bolder, full of more stuff for stuff’s sake. Its focus on one specific experience might limit its audience to people who find a serene swim with digital fish to be a relaxing pastime, but for those players (myself emphatically included), it’s the perfect game for unwinding after a stressful day on land.

Endless Ocean Luminous is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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