Beyond the reef, the shelf drops away into the turquoise haze of the open ocean. I find myself surrounded by golden-peaked pillars aglow with the shimmering petals of sunlit life. Bright green webs of twisted tendrils extend from pillar to pillar, forming a writhing network of bridges for the feathery, fern-like creatures who patrol and maintain them. It's a spectacular, awe-inspiring scene. Yet it exists mostly in my imagination, its wonder shaped by a handful of single-sentence descriptions and a simple two-colour contour map. In Other Waters does so much with seemingly so little, emerging as a masterclass in prudent, minimalist storytelling.
Dr. Ellery Vas is a xenobiologist following in the wake of her partner who disappeared while researching extraterrestrial life on the ocean planet Gliese 667Cc. Stationed at her partner's abandoned lab and equipped with an AI-controlled diving suit, Vas explores the depths in search of answers. In a disarming inversion of the typical human-AI relationship, you play the AI; Vas sets the objectives, often conferring with you, but it's your job to plot her course, gather samples, and run tests back in the lab.