Hydrophobia: Prophecy Review

By on June 4, 2011

Send your enemies to a watery grave.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

Water. It covers our planet, is in every living thing, quenches thirst, and is two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen. So why start a game review with a chemistry lesson? Well, it’s because it would be utterly impossible to talk about Hydrophobia Prophecy on the PC without spending time talking about something that makes up about 98% of the game.

Hydrophobia was originally released a while back on Xbox Arcade, and this time around sports a lot of improvements from the original. The story is set at a time where the world is suffering from overpopulation, and events unfold on a ship called The Queen of the World. You play as systems engineer Kate Wilson, and your job is to repair the ship after it has come under attack from terrorists who want to steal and weaponize the technology on board. While this may seem like a rather ordinary plot, it’s the game’s unique physics and execution that steal the show.

As the ship begins to flood in certain areas, your mission becomes more and more challenging and you will have to do your best to navigate the watery dangers. Because the game is powered by Dark Energy Digital’s HydroEngine technology, the water in the game behaves almost like a separate living entity. You can use the flooding water to unlock certain hard-to-reach places, or even use it as a weapon to drown or disrupt your enemies. What you see as simple fluid moving on screen is actually the result of complicated calculations that in turn affect both you and your enemies – if you’re trying to aim at an enemy when immersed in water, you’ll find that every ripple makes it harder and harder for you to get a better shot. It’s ridiculous how much effort has been put into something as simple as water, but it’s evident at every turn of the game.

Navigating around the levels and puzzles is made a bit simpler thanks to a navigation device that you can either pull out to find specific objectives, or configure to always point you in the direction of the next objective. You’re also equipped with a basic handgun that can initially stun enemies, but can later be upgraded with ammo packs to deal greater damage. But because ammo isn’t always available you need to figure out ways to explode canisters or gas pipes in the environment to deal with your enemies. Environmental damage isn’t something new, but it’s just so beautifully executed here that you can’t help but dream up new ways to polish of the bad guys. You also unlock water-based powers later on in the game, but it would have been nice if these were available earlier on in the game than towards the end. Aside from the main plot, you also come across certain side quests that in turn have an affect on the main story arc. This helps keep the game fresh so you don’t tire from the frequent swim-and-shoot segments.

While the story is interesting and plays through at a fairly decent pace, it feels somewhat short after the first playthrough, so the addition of unlockable medals and collectables adds a bit of replay value to it. It’s worth commenting that though the visuals really do steal the show, you can really only enjoy the maximum settings on a system that is able to cope with the high rate of calculations required to render the lifelike water.

Hydrophobia Prophecy may seem similar to other third-person shooters, but its unique gameplay mechanics and great visuals sets it apart from others in its genre. The storyline could have played out a bit longer, but this is drowned out (pun intended) by the game’s atmosphere and challenging puzzles. And with a low price tag to boot, this is one game that you’ve got to get your hands on.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
8
A straightforward story that ends out a little abruptly.
GRAPHICS
9
Amazing physics and visuals make for a truly spellbinding experience.
SOUND
8
Good sound effects and much better voiceovers.
VALUE
7
There are a few unlockables you can earn, which helps distract from the short storyline.
FUN FACTOR
8
Your enemies need to seriously take some swimming lessons.
OVERALL
8.3
A game that will steal you away with its ridiculously detailed rendering – of water.

About

A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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