Rating : 8/10
After 17 long years, AquaNoxis back. Yes, nearly two decades since AquaNox 2: Revelation Digital Arrow and THQ have revived and reimagined the world of Aqua once again.In a dystopian and somewhat soggy future, a crew of cryogenically frozen submarine pilots find themselves amongst a loose network of settlements at the bottom of the ocean after dear old humankind completely screwed up the surface.
No matter that it’s taken all this time to get the game made, Aquanox Deep Descent is more than worth the wait. Because it’s a reboot of the whole franchise any new players won’t need to have played the series from its origins in the old DOS game Archimedean Dynasty to enjoy it but there’s no denying that having enjoyed the adventures of Emerald “Dead Eye” Flint and William Drake in the previous games, this one felt like pulling on a comfortable old jumper.
This time though, we find ourselves in the game as a crew of cryogenically frozen submariners that are woken by a mad old guy who doesn’t give you any time at all or any explanation as to what the hell he’s doing or why before you’re arse deep in a watery gunfight and running off to the enormous submarine his captain owns. It’s from here that the fun really begins as you find your crew heading off to track down a bluff old cove by the name of Nemo.
Although this is in essence a dogfight and exploration game there are some lovely touches to the mechanics of the game. Currents, inertia and buoyancy all have an effect on the way your little submersible behaves, especially in the bigger subs.
Your crew of Kaelen, the former pirate, Nabila, a former spy who refused to shoot innocents during one of her missions, Hannah, a one-time US military officer, and Fedor, a successful scientist are pretty much cardboard cutouts but that can be forgiven most of the time.
The partially open world nature of the game allows for plenty of exploration, and delving into caves and wrecks deep in the benthic regions the game inhabits but it can get pretty tiring after a while. It’s worth the effort though as while some upgrades and new ships are locked behind story progression, more toys are out there to be found by the curious. Happily, no matter how far you follow the linear progression of the story missions you can always backtrack and have a poke about in a side mission or three if you find yourself short on resources.
Even with all the bells and whistles bolted on to your ship, you’re not going to find any of the missions a milk run. As the game has a nasty habit of sending the mad guys at you from all sorts of directions and they have no problem at all with blindsiding you en masse.The combat, while enjoyable and nuanced (the charge and dash functionality is going to be a VERY good friend) can be a little repetitive when you know that a mission is going to be nothing more than go here, shoot this, shoot anyone who tries to stop you. Not that this is anything more than a downside of the whole genre and at least keeping your head on a swivel and watching for dayglo sharks and subs lurking in the murk means you don’t really notice the repetition overmuch.
All in all, the varied biomes, the exploration, the dystopian story and the clever application of underwater physics make Aquanox Deep Descent a worthwhile use of your time, even if a couple of things can get a little underwhelming after a while.
Submarines, Bionts, Dystopia and shooty shoots, what’s not to love? Buy this, slap on your cowboy hat, and stick some Linda Ronstadt on as you drive “every kind of rig that’s ever been made” in the deep blue.
Vendor of anecdotes and drinker of coffee “Mr Woot” currently resides in the South West. He tends towards the sesquipedalian.