So you might not be surprised to hear that finding mermaid video games was a little challenging. Why is there a dearth in bracing, fantastical underwater adventures? I have no idea, dear reader, and hopefully, #Mermay2021 is the end to such negligence.

Nevertheless, we persevered and found you some mermaid-_esque_ and mermaid adjacent video games to enjoy while you ponder the wonders of the seven seas.

(Note: We expressly left out mermaid characters that appear in otherwise decidedly un-oceanic games, like Queen Marina from Dragon Quest and Irenes from Chrono Cross, because that would be cheating.)

Aquaria

So this charming little indie might be the most mermaid-y of the bunch, and thus tops our list (for now). In Aquaria, you play as a young mermaid girl called Naija, a lone adventurer on a journey of underwater discovery. The game basically consists of exploring loads of underwater caves and oases and finding things that help you develop your song. It’s super tranquil and cute and the weird magic combat is different and fun. A big yes to fans of the fin.

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue is very much an exercise in education, and evokes the same feeling as those point-and-click and Magic School Bus games of yesteryear. In Beyond Blue, you play as Mirai, a deep-sea diver and marine biologist, as she sets out to explore the depths of the ocean and discover all she can about the flora and fauna that populate it. The developers partnered with the BBC teams behind Blue Planet II to ensure accuracy and authenticity which is pretty cool. What can we say, swimming in a game is fun. Period.

Abzu

Okay but this is the best underwater game ever made. Subnautica? Never met her. Abzu’s development team consists of some of the visionaries who worked on Journey, another game that moved the needle for the entire industry. Abzu doesn’t move any needles, per se, but it does throw you into a hauntingly beautiful and often spectacular underwater world that feels alive and pulsing. You play as a reconnaissance robot (I think) and as you explore the dazzling depths you slowly start to realise there might be a little more to this world than you originally thought. The game features no dialogue and relies heavily on visual storytelling to forward its plot, but oh my God it’s so much better for it. Please play this game, it’s a thing of rare beauty.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens

A while back there was chatter that Shantae was going to be the next Pokémon-esque franchise for Nintendo, with hopes to turn it into one of the sprawling media franchises its IP’s are so known for.

That hasn’t really happened yet, but Shantae is nevertheless a darling and daring hero who inhabits a world ripe for exploring and adventuring.

In the Seven Sirens, our half-genie hero is dropped in the middle of a surprisingly vast tropical oasis, complete with half-sunken cities and, yes, seven sirens to duke it out with!

Jupiter & Mars

Okay so here is an oddball oddity outlier (say that 10 times in a row) for you guys to have a look at. Remember that game released way back called Ecco the Dolphin? No? Okay. Well, this is like that (kind of) but if Ecco the Dolphin took psychedelics and cared about global warming. You know what, just watch the trailer.

- Dante Ludolf