Aquanox Deep Descent (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 17.09.2020

Review for Aquanox Deep Descent on PC

Anyone remembers Aquanox? While not a series that ever really "made it," this line of vehicle-based, underwater first-person shooters had their cult classic charm, and thus created their own small fanbase. The premise alone is interesting, and quite original, as there aren't exactly many games like those, thus it makes sense that Digital Arrow and THQ Nordic managed to accumulate some coin through Kickstarter, and create a reimagining of the originals, the title known as Aquanox Deep Descent.

Humans have (once again) destroyed the environment, and their only hope for survival now lies on the vast oceans that surround Earth's continents. You, one of the four underwater pilots that are the protagonists of this wet, dystopian sci-fi tale, is awaken from a cryostasis, and given a mission, which it to help with a certain project that's supposed to - what else? - "save humanity." None of that was shown on this small demo that publisher THQ Nordic released. Also, judging from those few character interactions available, it's currently hard to believe that Aquanox Deep Descent will be a title that people will flock to for its narrative qualities. Then again, maybe it's too soon.

Screenshot for Aquanox Deep Descent on PC

The team controlled is part of the typical "good guys" faction; a coalition of what's left of USA and Europe, whereas the opposing organisation that shares the sea with them is a bit more hostile, and, yes, once again it is made out of the remnants of China, Russia, and so on. There are also a bunch of pirates swimming around, of course. It's hard to care about any of these, however. For starters, while dialogue isn't bad, it can only be characterised as… okay-ish. Again, it's probably too soon to make any predictions about the final product, but this small bite wasn't really that tasteful story/presentation-wise.

Things continue to be unimpressive in the visual department. While not bad, this has that… low-budget, unknown European developer look. That's not a moan at the far-from-current-gen graphics, but about the art style. A journey to the depths of the ocean should look awesome, and almost every corner should be wallpaper worthy. Aquanox Deep Descent occasionally looks good, but is mostly a bland visual experience. Just a series of bluish/greenish rock formations, with little use of additional details or special effects. It's really sad that Archimedean Dynasty, the 1996 original, is actually more atmospheric.

Screenshot for Aquanox Deep Descent on PC

Players pilot a sci-fi, mini-submarine, which feels appropriately mechanical in the way it controls. Looking around or moving in any direction has a certain "weight" that really immerses you into the seat of such a vessel, and the HUD adds to the coolness of it all. The gameplay loop revolves around salvaging resources (which are sadly marked on the map), doing main or side missions, and then returning to base to repair this neat DSF, as it's called, buy new equipment for it, craft ammo and repair kits, and then talk with NPCs in a visual novel fashion. There was only one mission available in this preview build, however, which had the DSF escorting a mining vessel in three specific spots.

Screenshot for Aquanox Deep Descent on PC

This provided the chance to engage in some underwater battles. The DSF has two weapons that can be shot independently, as well as some additional bells and whistles that can be activated, such as modules that act as secondary abilities, like a barrage of missiles, or a countermeasure mine that attracts incoming missile attacks, and so on. As this doesn't play like a typical FPS, and due to the robotic, and slow movement, it's important to master the purposely clunky dash move that can dodge incoming fire, prioritise targets, and generally thing tactically, as the opposition can be quite fierce.

Aquanox Deep Descent won't be a bad game. The controls, the audio-visuals, as well as the game itself, is decent. That's the thing, however: 'decent' won't do. This needs work. The sea of Aqua must undergo some beautification, the writing must feel less like it belongs on 'Smartphone Game #7385,' and more like this is an underwater Fallout, and both exploration and gunfights must get far more exiting. As a final note, while unavailable right now, this will support four-player, drop-in co-op, as well as standard PvP modes. Here's hoping all of these, as well as the core experience, will be more than simply 'good.'

Screenshot for Aquanox Deep Descent on PC

Final Thoughts

From what has been seen so far, it's safe to say that it's almost impossible that Aquanox Deep Descent will be a bad game - the real question is whether it will be something more than a decently made piece of software. Some smart changes and additions can unlock its potential as the best underwater first-person shooter/adventure money can buy.

Developer

Digital Arrow

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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