I hate the concept of drowning. It's terrible. It's awful. It's a morbid demise. My teeth clench, skin slithers, and every moment spent around water as it fills an entire room to the brim are agonizing. My hand shakes. My breath shortens. I can feel my lungs collapse. Oh how I hate drowning…. Is what the main character must be thinking! (Did you like that?)
Hydrophobia is a game centered on a sinking ship named Titanic, and the protagonists Jack and Rose.... No wait. Oh my goodness, no! The ship's name is Queen of the World, and the protagonists are Kate and Scoot. How silly of me, but oddly enough they hail from the same United Kingdom as the Titanic (coincidence?). The first game for Dark Energy Digital, and available for XBLA, PSN, and PC.
The premise is that the world has gone to Hell, and the ocean has engulfed all known land mass, forcing people to live on boats. The Queen of the World is a city-sized ship refuging thousands of citizens from Mother Nature (score one more for humanity!) so people can continue to toil in their daily lives. At least until terrorist who call themselves the Malthusians attempt to hijack said boat and begin to slaughter everyone. They proclaim: in order to save the world some people must die so others may live, hence their motto, "Save the World, Kill Yourself".
Kate works as an engineer, and Scoot is her boss. One day she receives a call from Scoot saying there is a malfunction on the lower decks. Innocently skipping all the way there, she checks on the situation… and that’s when shit escalates! Malthusians! Lots of them! EXPLOSION! “Scoot! What’s happening?” “I don’t know! I just work here!” EXPLOSION! “Water everywhere? How could this happen?” “Do I look like Miss Cleo?!” “Let it go Scoot! Miss Cleo wasn’t psychic!” Well, something like that. Kate is thrust into a situation where in order to survive she must halt the hijacking. Scoot plays the part of control center and assists Kate via radio. Together they reluctantly uncover the Malthusians’ plot, and attempt to thwart them.
Game play is cover based third person shooter type of deal with a heap of platforming. One weapon is used throughout the campaign with a variety of ammo pick-ups, five in all: sonic, gel, semi auto, energy, and rapid fire rounds- look for them in specially marked cereals!- and a cool compact hacking mechanism called a MAVI that can decrypt encoded systems, or hack far away consoles. The game starts you bare (No, not like that you sickos! Bare as in no weapons, and no MAVI!), and pick-ups are introduced as Kate progresses. The hacking mechanism becomes more elaborate with distorted frequencies, or encryption keys hidden in wall panels only the MAVI can detect, and near the end of the game Kate is trying to hack doors underwater!
Combat is diversified by having Kate fighting underwater, or shooting panels off the walls to surge baddies with water, or shooting combustibles to burn baddies, or shooting electrical systems to fry baddies (would you like your baddie braised, barbequed, or smoked?). The five ammo pick-ups work well, and can even be chained to cause major damage. I ran through the game using only the initial Sonic Rounds, totally missing the point of the four other ammo types, but that’s why developers must hate me so much! I got lost many a time trying to run through a corridor to avoid being drowned, but it would always happen. Then I’d have to sit through Scoot yelling, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” in his terrible voice, and repeat the process.
The acting isn’t all too great (especially Scoot, sorry!), and was pretty short (only three acts with three chapters), and I didn’t experience the “mastery of water” (some magic mumbo jumbo where Kate can manipulate water), and the ending was sad (not as in teary-eyed, but pitiful), the overall game was surprisingly an okay experience. Although the game boasted its Hydroengine superiority of water mechanics, I failed to see what was so awesome about the flowing water, or the ripples it made. It did, however, piss me the hell off every time I broke a panel to flood an area so I could get the achievement to knock three baddies with water, and the water would only lightly dampen the baddies, but would knock my character off her ass instead! (Deep breaths… remember your Karma.) B. Not a C. No, that would dissatisfy all those who worked hard on this title, and are still working to perfect it! So if ya’ll would excuse me… I need to see a therapist, because I have a phobia… of spiders.