Archives by Day

Aquanox: Deep Descent

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Digital Arrow
Release Date: 2017

Advertising





PC Preview - 'Aquanox: Deep Descent'

by Thomas Wilde on July 3, 2017 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Pilot customized fighter ships, explore a deep sea dystopia torn by the struggle for resources & survival!

The Aquanox series began 20 years ago with a German game that was eventually localized as Archimedean Dynasty, a postapocalyptic action-adventure/submarine simulator. It received two sequels, and a small fan following based upon one of the games being packaged with new video cards, but the third was canceled. That seemed like it would be the end of Aquanox, but thanks to Nordic Games and a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2015, here we all are.

In the world of Aquanox, resource depletion, natural disasters, climate change, and the aftereffects of war have turned the surface of Earth into a 40-meter-thick shell of radioactive slurry. The only remaining humans live deep underwater, eking out a living as miners and salvagers, on a planet that they now call Aqua. It's been long enough since they got down here that people have started to forget the problems that got them stuck down here to begin with; they're now forming into factions to battle over what resources are left.


Aquanox: Deep Descen was initially going to be a reboot, as the series's original director has since passed away, taking his plans for the future of the franchise with him. Instead, it's ended up as a prequel, set earlier in the timeline; the previous games took place in the 27th century, but Deep Descen is in the "not-too-far future."

You play the part of a four-person crew of mercenaries, who were put in cryogenic storage before humanity had to retreat underwater and are now awakened to deal with a strange plague. In single-player, you can switch between the four protagonists on the fly, using their ships and skills as required for the situation, but in co-op mode, you and up to three friends can each pick a member of the crew to play, drop-in/drop-out style. Each character also has a class, such as a combat specialist or a scout, which influences how they play and the kinds of ships they pilot.

The game takes place in a "pseudo-open" world, to quote the developers; much like a Grand Theft Auto game, you have to progress through the story before parts of the map become available for exploration. You have free rein otherwise to dig around the ocean floor, fighting pirates and looking for goods to mine or salvage, while picking up missions and requests from local clients. You can use the resources you find as part of a crafting system to build upgrades and new weapons for your ship.

You'll spend Deep Descen in the cockpit of your customizable submarine, and in the name of immersion, most of the UI elements are set up as monitors and gauges that surround your front screen. You can and are encouraged to switch out your ship when you're in a safe harbor, installing new weapons and parts to give yourself an advantage on your next mission. You can also give it cosmetic options like a new paint job or colorful decals, although your hull will become realistically weathered by the seawater as you play.


The game deliberately takes a lot of elements from modern shooters, with an arsenal of weapons that can inflict damage to a target's shields, although it's still a simulation game at heart. By default, its physics are somewhat soft, and you only have to keep track of your ammunition, but if you want more of a simulator feel, you can engage a hardcore mode. There, collisions inflict a greater amount of damage to your ship, your fuel and air are both limited, and both are used to fuel your ship's boost function and evasive maneuvers.

Deep Descen is also planned to ship with a 16-player versus mode, where you can pick from a list of more tricked-out ships to compete against your friends, with modes that include free-for-all deathmatch and domination. There's no carry-over between your ship upgrades in the story mode and PvP, in order to avoid balance issues; it's just jump in, pick a submarine, and go.

I saw Aquanox: Deep Descen on the last day of the show and didn't get a chance to go hands-on with it before E3 closed for the year, but I'm tentatively interested. That's what I tend to like about crowdfunding for games; there may be a few features added in to the final product due to sheer market forces — I saw a lo of titles this year that had crafting bolted onto them — but the games often end up being allowed to have their own personality, especially something like this where it sits at a convergence point between at least three largely separate genres. If nothing else, I want to check out the final product just to see how successful they are at threading this particular needle.



More articles about Aquanox: Deep Descent
blog comments powered by Disqus