Hydrophobia is the morbid fear of water, and as for the game Hydrophobia, well lets just say that this is one game that you may want to let drown. Hydrophobia takes place on a large colony sized ship called The Queen of the World. To give you a better idea of how big the ship is supposed to be, The Queen of the World makes the Titanic look like a canoe. The ginormous ship comes under attack from terrorists called Malthusians, people that are trying to cleanse the world of over population. In the game you play Kate Wilson one of the many engineers aboard the ship that are trying to survive and get the ship back under control. Supposedly Kate has hydrophobia but the game seems to lack the fact that she does fear water, considering once you start the game you find a certificate of completion for swimming. The real only way to notice that she fears the water, keeping in mind that she works on a large ship, is when she is treading water and she doesn’t stop crying.
Dark Energy Digital developed a great game for Xbox Live Arcade, yes I said a great game, but nonetheless there are flaws throughout it. Somehow Dark Energy Digital was able to mash together a good game, and when I say that I mean a functioning third person shooter with amazing water characteristics. I’ll admit I didn’t hear too much about Hydrophobia until a month before it’s release. Looking at screen shots from the game I was surprised at the detail of the water and how it engulfed the environment. The first thoughts that came to mind was if this game is about water and fear of water, they really better not mess up the water. Out of the entire game I have to say that the detail and physics of water was one of the most realistic that I’ve seen out of any game thanks to the Hydro Engine.
Levels in the game are almost nonexistent since the game seems to use a real time loading of the levels. You do notice the locking mechanisms spinning as you’re repeatedly bashing the action button to get through the door to the next room. The game actually splits up into three different acts which supposedly I guess is supposed to sum up the beginning, middle, and the end. The level design is pretty repetitive and boring, yes there are some interactive environments where you can blow up a wall and let more water in, but they come far and few from room too room.
The attack system and movements of the game are spot on, minus one or two hang ups. The shooting system is great since there is a cover system involved, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get hit from a blind spot where the enemy can shoot you but you can’t shoot them. Since there’s so many environmental hazards for your enemies there are just as much for you as well. Many times throughout the game when you’re confronted and next thing you know you’re either on fire or being electrocuted from a live wire. Weapons like the sonic pistol do little damage when not charged, but even when charged you would think a full blast to the head with a sonic pistol would kill not stun a enemy. The pistol system is a bit interesting since there’s different types of ammunition that give your bullets different elemental attributes like electricity or explosive rounds. This gives you different but creative ways to kill enemies, like shooting the electric bullet onto an explosive can that blows up a glass door to release a large wave of water to submerge and spread the fire onto enemies that are close by. Which in turn gives you a combination bonus for a kill which gives you points towards unlocking new items for your avatar.
All in all Hydrophobia has been a good game but the only problem is it seems that the game was somewhat poorly put together. The game was fun to run and jump around in but when combat came into play the game takes an ugly turn. Yes the visuals in the game are great, every sonic shot that you take, every explosion, and every wave that sweeps over you makes you enjoy every moment. While you’re so impressed with the visuals the game tends to forget to give you more hints on what to do sometimes, audio cues tend to help if you reach the right direction but if you don’t trigger the audio clue, you tend to just roam corridors running into hazards and dying.
Hydrophobia could be a great game only if it was released as either a puzzle game or strictly a third person adventure/shooter. There’s not enough action in the game for enemy interaction but there’s also not enough puzzle elements to make it a puzzle game, there is enough of a balance between both to keep the game interesting. The ending leaves you wanting more and for a $15 price tag on Hydrophobia, I think it would be worth it if you want to experience a third person shooter that gives you creative ways to kill your enemy, other wise I would say pass on this game.
Overall Score = 8.0