Despite Disney's best efforts, there is nothing in this world that can make me think being under the sea is anything short of terrifying. I mean, do you watch the Discovery Channel at all? More than half of the meanest, strangest, biggest, most deformed and poisonous/fanged creatures in the world live in the deep blue sea. Still, I have to admit that Lucas Paakh's underwater exploration-oriented Azurefish manages to make the ocean look pretty spectacular, and packs it full of minigames, secrets, and achievements to boot. You play a fish (decidedly azure in colour... go figure) swimming through a vast ocean; just move your cursor, and the fish will follow it. The basic gameplay may remind you of Paakh's previous title, William and Sly, albeit without any sort of story or real goals; your only real objective is just to explore the large underwater map, hunting down treasure, performing acrobatic tricks, and more.
Azurefish isn't just story-lite; it's story-free. It winds up feeling a bit more like an elaborate webtoy that takes cues from both Ecco the Dolphin and Dolphin Olympics, only without the dolphin. While some players may be put off with the lack of any real direction or overarching mission, there's something to be said for just going with the flow and immersing yourself in the beautiful environments and atmosphere. It's not that there aren't things to do; hunting down tokens, or gems to play games like races or acrobatic tricks, is a lot of fun. The presentation is gorgeous, rendering the sea in rich colours and surreal touches that would almost make me think the ocean is a lovely place to visit if not for the fact that I know what sort of critter lives down there.
Of course, even taken solely as an adventure in the life of the world's flashiest fish, there are a few quibbles. Control feels (perhaps appropriately) slippery at times, since long, floppy-bodied fish aren't typically known for their ability to execute hairpin turns. The real issue for players trying for 100% completion may wind up being that trying to navigate to the myriad of items tucked far behind scenery in little crevices winds up being more trouble than it's worth, since you can't see where you are or where you're going. Still, Azurefish is absolutely beautiful, and packed full of wonderful detail and surreal touches that make it a lot of fun to spend time with. It's relaxing and engrossing and should provide a tasty treat to whet your appetite for certain sequels about certain foxes which could be on the horizon if you've been good this year. Until then, keep your feet wet and dive on in.