Under: Depths of Fear, sinks to the bottom, as its gameplay is both uninspiring and lacks direction. Its interesting setting is wasted by glitches and broken immersion, and I’m going to tell you why.
Its August 1917, and the western front has been ravaged by war. Under: Depths of Fear puts the player in the shoes of a traumatised WW1 veteran. Alexander Dockter, as he tries to escape a sinking ocean liner and supernatural entities that are stalking him. Developed by Indie Team Globiss Interactive and published byRogue Games Inc, Under: Depths of Fear has issues but sells an intriguing story and setting.
Under: Depths of Fear, starts with an extremely short first-person intro that introduces protagonist, Alexander Dockter, as he is wheeled down a corridor in a wheelchair by two men. When Alexander is abruptly abandoned, he must find a way to escape the sinking ship while trying to avoid the madness that has befallen the ship.
Ocean Liner Setting Evokes a Sinking Feeling
The sinking ocean liner proves to be a great setting for a horror game. Offering an authentic horror atmosphere as the player explores the ship in search of clues. Globiss Interactive, fully utilise the tight claustrophobic corridors that are present on a liner. This in combination with flooding areas, evokes a sense of urgency and fear. However, the game fails to execute these concepts consistently.
Throughout the game Gramophones help push the narrative along by giving hints and information on the back story to Alexander’s past and information on the entity. Extra exposition is shown in text form to the player, by the use of notes and documents. This was executed well, as notes would often warn the player of an imminent scare.
Under: Depths of Fear, Cool concepts but poor execution
There are segments in the game, where doors will be destroyed, followed by a sudden rush of water. Leaving you mere seconds to find right door to open. The player, on coming into contact with the rushing water, will instantly die. This becomes frustrating when trying to find the way forward, only to die and then repeat. While this adds variation to the gameplay, the slower mechanic of water filling a room works much better, as the player tries to find keys to escape. But these segments are often bought down by uninspiring and generic level design, where the player will find themselves walking down a dimly lit corridor time and time again.
Combining the rising water mechanic with entity evasion worked well. This makes for fun and exciting gameplay, where the player must seek cover when the lights go out. The player must then wait for the lights to come back on, while the area slowly fills with water.
The entity fails to be scary though, as the player can hide by crouching under objects in certain segments. A staple in horror video games. However, doing so in front of the entity has no consequence. In addition, these objects are few and far between and as a result the player knows when the entity will spawn.
Under: Depths of Fear, Glitches destroy atmosphere
Under: Depths of Fear, suffers from a range of problems, which impact the games atmosphere and gameplay. Major glitches, such as falling through the floor and getting stuck in objects are present here. As I explored the dark boiler room I was plucked away from any feeling of dread as my character fell through the floor. Major issues such as this set the tone and impression for the game.
A lack of direction is an issue in the game, the crews quarters level proves this. Being chased by the entity is scary, but its fear factor soon wears off when it becomes frustrating. As it is not clear what actions the player should carry out. Upon being chased by the entity the player must flee to a specific room. Once the player has entered the room they must block the door by using a bunk bed. However, there is no indication to do this.
Under: Depths of Fear, Lacks Consistency
Under: Depths of Fear, can have its spooky moments, however, it fails to stay consistent whether it be from graphics to gameplay. Which is sad, as areas such as the dining room and crew sleep quarters are executed well and look good. As the game progresses it lacks utility and would benefit greatly from a objective journal.
Under: Depths of Fear is a slow burn that struggles at early stages of the game while later levels offers a better experience. Consequently the player is no longer playing for the big scare but for the mystery of the narrative.
Under: Depths of Fear’s intriguing story and setting is brought down by glitches, monster design and execution. The horror genre relies heavily on player investment, that unfortunately is lost due to these frustrating issues. Under Depths of Fear, offers a below average horror experience tied to a somewhat intriguing setting that is wasted.
If you found that read interesting why not go check out our other content, Such as everything you need to know about the next generation Xbox. Or take a loot at our review for Jetboard Joust. Looking for more scary content head to our YouTube channel to revisit Dead Space 2.
Summary: Under: Depths of Fear tells the story of a British soldier in World War I named Alexander. He’s on a boat that’s taking on a significant amount of water and plagued by an eerie, lanky WWI soldier who follows him around sometimes.