This is the best-looking game I’ve played on Switch — and I'm adding it to my mindfulness routine

Endless Ocean Luminous diver surrounded by sea plants
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Playing video games before bed is a no-no. Our sleep experts recommend avoiding screens before going to bed. But I find it hard to kick the habit of putting my Nintendo Switch down before I settle down to sleep, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I’ve recently gotten into playing Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, and I can never make myself abandon a run midway through, even in the middle of the night. But this comes with consequences — fighting bosses, managing resources and navigating mazes is too stimulating before bed. This game makes it take me longer to fall asleep and ruins my sleep quality. Locking my Switch in another room at sundown would be the best course of action, but instead, I started with baby steps and set out to find something more relaxing to play. My game of choice was Endless Ocean Luminous.

Screenshot of Endless Ocean Luminous showing coral and fish species

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Endless Ocean Luminous is an ocean adventure simulator. The gameplay consists of slowly swimming around the vast underwater depths, observing sea creatures, and scanning them to log them in your database. There’s also treasure (and trash) to scavenge that earns you points to spend on cosmetic items.

This might sound boring to some, but there are surprises in store for dedicated divers. If you explore thoroughly, you might find anything from a massive shark to an underwater bird. I came across a huge shipwreck while on a solo dive, and couldn’t stop myself from gasping out loud. Inside the shipwreck was a small ecosystem of new creatures that had made the old boat their home. Just when you think you’ve seen enough fish, Endless Ocean will throw you a curveball that puts you back on your toes.

Each discovery is enhanced by Endless Ocean Luminous’ excellent visuals. It’s easily one of the best-looking Switch games I’ve played. The underwater environments all look sharp and beautiful, all bathed with effective soft lighting. It’s a joy to watch the highly detailed fish models swimming around after a successful scan.

Endless Ocean Luminous screenshot showing an Orangespine Unicornfish

(Image credit: Nintendo)

As enchanting as the visuals are, I’m a gamer who thrives on ticking objectives off a list. Therefore, I was glad to see there’s a story mode included in Endless Ocean Luminous. There’s a functional plot line about cleaning the ocean and reviving a coral habitat, but there’s also a sub-story about uncovering a mysterious underwater civilization that has been buried by time. It’s more than I was expecting from this kind of game and a welcome addition. I wasn’t expecting to like the other characters in the story mode, either — they can’t exactly be called memorable, but I found myself chuckling at their antics.

Endless Ocean Luminous also deserves kudos for its soundtrack. Each dive is accompanied by quiet, atmospheric tracks that compliment the beauty of the sea and its inhabitants. The downside to the audio experience is that there’s no voice acting — your AI diving assistant Sera is voiced by a text-to-speech software and the human characters just make bubbly, breathy sound effects.

Lonely ocean

New to this entry in the Endless Ocean franchise is the Group Dive feature. This mode puts up to 30 players together in the water, with everyone working together to scan sea creatures and uncover the whole in-game map. You can either branch off on your own path, or follow behind someone else, experiencing the game’s sights together.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t find much fun in the Group Dive mode. Other players can mark anything they find interesting on the map, so you can discover the same landmarks or animals they have. I got to see some rare creatures, even some that were supposedly extinct — but it was only a couple of minutes into one of my first dives in the game. I hadn’t put in any special effort to find these rare creatures and seeing them so easily at the start of the game robbed them of having any impact. Perhaps there’s a special reward in it for players who 100% complete a group dive, but my group was making slow enough progress that I gave up after around 45 minutes.

Endless Ocean Luminous screenshot showing a white seal

(Image credit: Nintendo)

So, did this game help me sleep better? I’d say that as Switch games go, Endless Ocean Luminous is one of the best out there if you're seeking relaxation. You’re free to explore at your own pace, each dive lasts for as little or as long as you want, and the visuals and music are both wonderful. Rather than staying up half the night stressing, I slept much better when I ended my days touring the sea floor.

Millie Davis-Williams

Millie is a Deals writer at Tom's Guide specializing in deals content. She also covers the latest tech news and and creates how-to articles about everything from phones, streaming devices, and headphones to apps and video games. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gaming on her Nintendo Switch and creating digital art.