Lido’s are something that are quintessentially British; on the three good days we get a year weather-wise, people flock to these outdoor swimming pools. Some will simply like a dip in the water during the hot weather; more regular users however will be frustrated by the amount of extra people to navigate around whilst they attempt a quick swim.
Swim Out is a game centred around that tricky navigation and all the pitfalls that come from trying to second guess other pool users’ movements. You make your first move, and then the other swimmers take their turn in a puzzle game that is very similar to the Square Enix GO Spinoff mobile games of Hitman, Lara Croft and Deus Ex. Swim Out however evokes a much more calming aesthetic, reminiscent of David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) or A Bigger Splash.
With your blue bathing suit and swimming cap, you must manoeuvre around fellow swimmers adorned with red suits and make your way to the steps to get out of the swimming pool, river or sea. Other swimmers come in all varieties: they could be laying on an inflatable, diving in and out, or partaking in a spot of synchronised swimming in a small group. Each has their own set pattern of movement and only subtle differences in how they look in relation to each other, so you will always need to pay attention – especially in later levels where the swimming pool is near full capacity.
It can be difficult to tell the different swimmers apart, and that’s down to the very minor differences between the character models, but also partly due to the general look of swimmers in Swim Out. Your avatar and NPC swimmers don’t really move; they just appear to be static pieces you move around a board, like a board game. But unlike Wartile and Hitman GO that were heavily stylised and visually impressive board game styles, Swim Out’s characters look very basic and cumbersome in comparison.
While player movement is a shame, the overall aesthetic is lovely to look at. With calming, pastel colours and the sound of waves lapping on the shore, it’s a very relaxing game and definitely one to unwind with.
As well as other swimmers, there are more unusual obstacles to contend with such as jellyfish, wave pools, crabs, fishing lines and much more. Many of these obstacles and items have the same outcome of stopping movement for a set number of turns, but with tiny differences. So small in fact that the plethora of items available seems unnecessary.
Other items that you can pick up include water guns and beachballs, and yet all also have the same effect on other swimmers. The only added bonus is that you can use these at your own disposal, rather than just be out in the field, or swimming pool.
Swim Out has 100 levels in total spread out over seven chapters. Occasionally, new features are introduced but other than that all the levels follow the same look and feel. Despite being in seven sections though, you can access them all at any point.
Certain levels have additional objectives to complete, and some are mutually exclusive so require repeat playthroughs to be able to complete them all. These can range from completing the level in a specific number of moves, collecting stars dotted around the map, or limiting your use of pickups.
Navigating your swimmer around the pools is easy enough – navigating the menus is anything but. Swim Out is another game ported over from mobile devices, and as such the menus haven’t been tailored to the home console. Regardless of the lack of any sort of button prompts throughout the game, menu options are left dotted around the edge of the screen. Only trial and error will help you to understand which is the right button you require for the situation at hand.
Swim Out has 18 achievements to go for and it’s a very run-of-the-mill list. There is an achievement for completing each of the seven chapters, and an additional one for completing every objective in each chapter. Then there are milestone ones for 50, 100, 150 and all objectives, and that’s the achievement list done and dusted.
Swim Out on the Xbox One can offer a decent challenge and is fairly priced at £4.99. Additional challenges can come inadvertently from the frustrating mobile device format and lack of differentiation between swimmers, and these stop it from being a great puzzle game. As it is though, it’s fine, and could be an easy 1000G for those able to think two or three moves ahead.