thephantomnaut's Hydrophobia (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Urine in the water!


 Be prepared to not be scared.
I had some interest in playing Dark Energy Digital’s debut Xbox Live Arcade game Hydrophobia thanks to the very interesting water effects that dominate the playing field and what can be done within this seemingly dynamic environment. After three years in development and the first episode now playable, the game’s attempt at making a third-person adventure game in a claustrophobic ship flooded by water is ultimately lackluster.

Thanks to terrorists attacking the luxury ship Queen of the World, engineer Kate Wilson and her partner Scooch have to stop them from making more harm while overcoming her fear of water. That said, there isn’t really nothing else in the story except survive. Minor background information through data logs can be acquired similar to BioShock but with an uninteresting storyline, they seem like meaningless novelty.

To make the plot progression worse is to endure the voice acting. Kate’s voice actress seems to be at conflict in either sounding like an American or have a British accent. Scooch is worse with his thick Irish accent ultimately to the point of annoyance.

With the Queen flooded, Kate has to endure the heavy amounts of water flooding the ship. Visually it’s tremendous when they flow and gush through especially when shallow wads get larger when windows are shot or doors open. High amounts of water can change the playing field, drowning enemies and giving a sense of anxiety when solving puzzles. The effect would have done better if the environments didn’t look the same.


But without the water, it’s merely a boring third-person shooter trying to add elements done much better in other modern adventure games. Puzzles consist of repetitive actions like draining water and finding door codes making a linear game more linear. Combat has some importance but it’s not effectively done well. Starting off with stunning sonic rounds, players must make use of the environment’s materials to kill enemies. Early combat being clunky and sometimes unresponsive, there will be constant trial and error hoping that an enemy at least drowns; worse is too hear Scooch saying “NO!” every time failure occurs. There is a cover system implemented but how it’s used feels uncomfortable and regressive in comparison to other games using the mechanic.

Despite being the first part of a Hydrophobia episodic series, it feels in need of more polish. Things like collision issues during navigation sections are a plenty and the bad camera are among the many issues. Along with the other problems mentioned, Hydrophobia ultimately doesn’t feel fun or interesting to play. Dark Energy Digital has to step up their game and if it takes another three years to finish it, then so be it if they want to make a good product with a successor.

1 Comments Refresh
Posted by mr_shoeless

The title of this review would be a pun if it were:  "Urine the water!"  
Of course, that would also be a bad pun; so maybe it's better this way.  
Just a thought.

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