Hydrophobia Prophecy

This drenched little game has some great ideas and great physics, but a few spots leave a bitter aftertaste.

The story in one sentence: You play a technician on board a giant ship, where there is new technology that could save the human race, but a terror group invades and takes over control – genocide ensues. I know that was very flat, but the scenario in itself really had potential. Unfortunately it is all thrown overboard pretty soon – there are no twists whatsoever – no real exposition either – none of the cardboard-characters are ever explored any further so I never felt very compelled by any of the events. What adds to the disconnection is, that  the player never sees the ocean or the sky  (not even through a window) or much of the other ships passengers.

To be fair though, that was probably because of the games scale – it is a small and short game – yet that doesn’t excuse poor design choices. Just a few additions would have made a game with some great ideas in it significantly better.

Besides the story’s potential, the game play has some nice features as well. First and foremost the water. The whole engine is practically made for physically realistic water effects. While the waters reaction to its surroundings is a bit extreme, it still gives the player great feedback to what is happening in his surroundings. You can break windows to fill rooms with water, make waves with explosions or crates, even flush other rooms by just keeping doors open. Moving through it feels real, as with rising water levels your walking speed gets impaired until you actually have to swim or dive – all changing dynamically. In addition to that the environment is included as well – explosive barrels, electric wires and so on give you all the standard physical playfulness and combat options. Shoot a cable to electrocute someone standing in water underneath and so on.

Again the devil is in the details: The physic and element-based features never reach their full potential in puzzles. The enemy AI is too stupid to use it these things to its own advantage or even move much at all for that matter, so most of the henchman are just cannon fodder.  Because of that and because the shooting and cover mechanic feel a bit sloppy you just rather gun most of them down directly, instead of resorting to the clever use of the environment. Another point of lost potential.

Overall Hydrophobia Prophecy is a good idea with mediocre execution. Too bad though, cause a more refined game with the same scenario would have been a really enjoyable experience.