Let’s talk about Endless Ocean: Luminous

I’ve been asked multiple times on my thoughts with this game and in some ways, especially seeing responses to it, it feels like Endless Ocean’s version of the situation with Fashion Dreamer vs Style Savvy– the main difference is Fashion Dreamer is its own IP, just sharing the developer, while Endless Ocean: Luminous is the third game in the series.

Personally, there are some things I do like more such as the fact that I don’t have to worry about running out of oxygen or being attacked, but like how Fashion Dreamer focuses a lot on one specific focus, Endless Ocean is very much focused on the diving aspect, especially the group diving, at the cost of some customization, a more expanded story, and any kind of out of Ocean aspect.

Regardless, like with Fashion Dreamer, I still feel there is a place for this game, and I think it will absolutely have its fans, but I can also understand why it may feel like a bit of a let-down to fans of the previous two games.

As mentioned above, the game has very much homed in on the Diving aspect. The only customization is on your Diving Suit (which you can color each part differently and add multiple stickers to each part) with your actual look never being shown. You can never look up out of the ocean– it just blocks you from going further. There is no island to explore, no series of side quests, there is just the main story which feels more like a side story on its own to the actual diving part.

I love Salvaging and Riddles so the Mystery Board grabbed my attention, but while you learn the history of these people and other neat things, it’s never actually important to the story. It’s just clearing them out like a series of achievements to find where you need to go for the real treasure to save the World Coral. That’s it.

The story is so incredibly short (in terms of time, the grinding to actually unlock it all takes forever but feels completely disjointed from the story itself), the tutorial is oddly spread out (You learn about the camera much later and I didn’t even realize it actually was necessary to take pictures of fish so where I thought I was almost done, I now need to re-find everything), most “chapters” are done within maybe five minutes tops. It barely feels worth it to call a story. The Shared and Solo Dives do not feel properly integrated into the story at all. It just feels like something to grind to unlock the next chapter that will be over in probably 10% of the time you even put to unlock it.

You also have very little freedom in the story with each Story area locked into a very small space that you can’t explore beyond. Rather than big expansive areas of the Sea, every single Dive is in The Veiled Sea which is essentially all randomly generated. Each map is randomly put together from different Acres that can be facing North, East, South, or West. It gets to a point where you will start recognizing areas and know exactly what Fish and what Riddle discs and things you may find with only Salvage being truly random in placement (though, what kind you find varies by biome). And using that RNG factor, you can end up with multiple different Biomes in the same map– Abyss, Arctic, Fresh Water, Ocean Water, Coral, etc.

For the most part, I don’t mind how the Veiled Sea works. I think it’s a pretty neat thing. My issue is that it’s the only thing. I miss the big expanses as we swan through castles and old ruins and shell palaces. That isn’t to say there isn’t anything like that here, but due to the random nature and way it’s done, everything is much smaller and there’s only so many times you can be impressed by one of the 3-4 same pirate ships.

As it is, the game really does put a lot on Shared Dives, the group dive system with up to 30 people (I have yet to see a completely fully dive though personally… It seems unless you really do find nearly 30 people to enter an ID, I don’t think you can get close randomly– it feels like very few people can actually end up joining a Shared Dive completely random which feels odd). Many things are built around that system and sharing things with others and to be honest, if you can get a group of people you can play with and talk to, I genuinely think this is the most fun mode to do.

Even as a relatively solo player, it’s just so much easier to navigate, get through, and rank up when playing with others. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any point playing solo, but generally, you’re going to be having a much slower experience. Plus, you do need to play with others to get additional Tags (there are 210 currently in the game).

Because so much emphasis is put on Shared Dives though, it kind of blows my mind on certain decisions made in regard to it that just make it not as enjoyable as it could be such as:

  • Nintendo Online is needed. If you’re going to put such an emphasis on Shared Dives and being able to dive with people, putting said mode behind an additional paywall is ridiculous. Events are also online only. There is a reason Fashion Dreamer does not require Nintendo Online.
  • Shared Dives have a time limit of roughly one hour. For a game that encourages you to relax and look at all the fish, the time limit requires you to rush because you CAN be cut off in the middle of doing things. Having played other games that have RNG maps, there is no good reason to kick people out after an hour? Here are some better options to encourage people to leave a map after a while:
    • Have it so UMLs can no longer spawn after an hour or maybe a slightly longer time.
    • New players can no longer spawn in after an hour or certain amount of time.
    • Some combination of the above

    But the fact that I can’t always check out all the Salvage or see all the fish or quickly get back to riddles in time sucks. It sucks to just be cut off by a stupid timer. I hate that I can’t listen to the fish information during a Dive because I have to be constantly running around. I can’t explore as much as I want because that timer is always looming. Seriously, why can’t you let me finish and choose to leave? Maybe I just want to swim around and hang out with my friends and take goofy pictures. Or maybe we’re having a fun Tag Sharing party as we put various tags on a huge school of fish.

    I truly feel there is no good excuse to have such a forced timer and it adds a very frustrating part to something that is supposed to be relaxing.

  • While this isn’t exclusive to Shared Dives, the time limit mentioned above makes this so much more frustrating than when in Solo Dives so I wanted to highlight it here: You WILL be cut off by Sera every single time a glitchy fish is found, a UML is spawning, a UML is leaving, and also when the timer ends. About to take a picture? Too bad. Literally just saving a picture? Also, too bad. About to finish salving something? Nope. Just scanned a fish you needed? Oh well. It drives me absolutely insane that it can’t wait until you close out your current action. And is just another frustration of the stupid one hour timer.
  • You can only place up to 10 Tags out at a time. On one hand, I would guess this is to prevent people covering the map with tags, especially due to the tag raffle system (which has its own flaws), but Salvage tags do go away when you find them and having options for people to filter tags (IE: Don’t show tags from a specific person or only show Salvage tags, no fish tags, etc.) would be a better option? At least with me, not only do I genuinely really want to help people, but I do like to tag a lot of things to help me keep track of where I’m going as well. Things like tagging rare-colored fish, small/large sizes, different salvage types, the UML (which at least the orange circle sticks around now after someone scans it, but it can still be hard to find where it is in said circle sometimes), Disk Riddles, and even entrances/exits to places… There are so many things you can help with and limiting to 10 gets filled up fast.
    • A similar issue is trying to figure out what tags to use. The raffle system encourages you to use lots of different tags to have more on the map for more chances to win, but at the expense of making it clear what may even be marked. I usually like to use specific kinds for what I’m marking: A Castle for a UML (though, sometimes I may use something more specific like a Swordfish, Coral, or Bird), Sparkles for Salvaging, Pearl for Rare Salvaging, Rainbow fish for a Rare Color, etc. But obviously, people have different ways they mark things, and the game seems to want you to just constantly switch things up. And once again, when there is a constant timer, you really would rather know what you’re diving too because every moment is precious.

Despite my complaints, I generally still do have fun, but as I get closer to finishing up certain tasks, these frustrations get all the more annoying. I’m really hoping they may adjust things in the future because it just feels like a huge oversight.

Like I said earlier, I don’t think the game is bad, but it took out a lot of old features to throw them all into an RNG basket and that isn’t going to appeal to everyone who enjoyed these games.

I’m really hoping maybe they’ll expand on it, and we’ll see some of those old features make a return in some way, but as it is now, it still feels like it’s missing something.