Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Elf Sternberg's Pendorwright Projects Previous Previous Next Next
Hydrophobia Prophecy [game review] - Elf M. Sternberg
Hydrophobia Prophecy [game review]
tl;dr: It's a third-person 3D shooter with a female protagonist set in a vast sinking ship. It's a fantastic site-seeing adventure but as a game the controls are terrible and as a story it lacks coherence or closure.
I finally got around to finishing Hydrophobia: Prophecy, the PC port of the XBox game Hydrophobia. The plot is pretty simple: you're Kate Wilson, security engineer for the great ocean-going arcology Queen of the World. Your ship is home to the super-wealthy, who (much to the surprise of both Ayn Rand and Karl Marx) are busily trying to figure out how to power, feed, and water the surviving population of poor schmucks out on land. A group of pan-suicidal whackos take over the ship, determined to stop this act of charity and, in the course of doing so, wipe humanity off the face of the Earth. They start to blow stuff up. You happen to be in just the right place at the right time to start messing with their plans, so off you go.

The premise of the game is more interesting. Since you're on a ship that's had lots of terribly nasty things done to it, there are vast sections flooding. The game was built around a hydrology model; you're constantly being battered by floods, have to swim down and around many different underwater sections of the game, and since it's a third-person game you're occasionally dealing with water on your lens.

So: a water-based game with a female protagonist. It ought to have been perfect for me. And for the most part, it's not bad.

The controls are terrible. Just awful. I can't count the number of times I was shouting at the screen, "Just jump! It's the only logical thing you can do! No, don't let go and fall to your death! Jump!" Over and over. Swimming wasn't quite as bad as some other games I've been in; vaguely reminiscent of the Descent series.

The plot makes no sense. Pan-misanthropic genocide isn't a thing you can build an army around.

For all the premise that you're supposed to be on a ship, you may as well have been in Bioshock's Rapture. There was never any sight of the sea, you never went topside, you never saw the sun. It may have been a limitation of the game engine that outdoor settings just weren't possible, but still.

There's no ending cutscene. They give you a voice-over partner, a guy Kate calls "Scoot," who's basically your chorus helping you along. He gets captured 2/3rds of the way through the plot, though, so you're on your own for the last battles, and you never find out if he's okay, or if the ship sinks, or anything. Once you defeat the boss battle robot, its explosion kills the main villain, and... that's it. Fade to black. No idea if Kate lives, Scoot lives, the world lives.

For all that, the actual site-seeing in the game is fantastic. It's a beautiful game, there's a lot of interesting things to do, a couple of nifty puzzles, and, like I said, it's a water-based game which gets water right, which is pretty rare. And it has a likeable female protagonist who's never presented as a sex object. She's just the main character, trying to do her job. (She gasps and grunts a lot when in the water, though, which gets pretty tiresome later in the game since by then you're down in engineering and storage and there's a lot of water.)

I snagged a sale copy from Steam for five bucks. It's basically in the bargain bin; I see it's on sale today for 50 cents. It's kind-of a shame that it has all these annoying details; it could have been an amazing experience.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
Current Music: Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

1 comment or Leave a comment
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: December 27th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
If, despite that, anyone wants to try it, I have a Steam key for it (it's been in at least one bundle...)
1 comment or Leave a comment