Anoxemia (PC) Review

By Athanasios 19.04.2015

Review for Anoxemia on PC

A disappointing fact about a vast number of independent productions is that in their struggle to differentiate themselves from the more formulaic, mainstream market, they end up with results that are more style than substance, like those self-pretentious, artsy films that people worship, just because they "Mean stuff!" even though they are just a big pile of boring, pseudo-intellectual garbage. In the realm of videogames, many indie titles forget that the king's name is Gameplay, like Anoxemia, which is visually stunning, exceptionally atmospheric, supposedly hides more than meets the eye in what the intro implies to have started "as a simple mission," yet is actually nothing more than a tedious, 2D action-adventure of no importance - or originality.

The waters of this cold abyss are so dark that everything is pitch-black, apart from the dimly-lit, dark blue-coloured background, where remnants of a past war and bizarre, almost extra-terrestrial rock formations can be seen. This is the world that Dr. Bailey must explore in order to gather various sea plants that glow in the dark - much like his own pink connoisseur moustache(!). The catch? His submarine has crashed, the connection with his team is lost and, even worse, the wires that provided him with energy and oxygen have been cut-off.

Screenshot for Anoxemia on PC

The thing is that while this unfortunate man is the protagonist, it's ATMA, his pet drone, that is doing all the hard work, which is guiding him towards his objective. Unfortunately, the player controls the drone and not Bailey, who behaves as if he is the drone - and a blind one, too. He frequently gets stuck at corners, scrapes the ceiling with his head, or even goes straight for a mine, just because ATMA made a sharp, instead of wide, turn.

This feels like a difficult quest, although it's not, since all puzzles are a piece of cake. As an example, cut the chain of a mine so that it blows up the ceiling, or push a rock so that it will block a strong current, and so on. The fault for the frequent deaths that gamers will experience here should definitely go to the clumsy controls and the AI of Dr. Bailey who will stop to gather an oxygen tank, not realising the enemy drone that is heading towards him, even though ATMA is already far away.

Screenshot for Anoxemia on PC

Unfortunately, even if these flaws weren't present, the core gameplay would still be pretty dull. Puzzles in a good action-adventure, like Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee for example, not only get progressively harder, but they make the player think a lot before completing them, unlike here where there's not really any real rise in challenge, just an increase in enemies, traps, and obstacles, none of which require any strategic thinking. As long as the player keeps oxygen and energy at a descent level, and has enough patience to deal with Dr. Bailey's limited spatial awareness, all will be fine.

However, this trip is advertised as plot-driven, therefore, there might be a gem underneath the dull gameplay. However, is it really plot-driven? In the first 10 levels, the protagonist has a - not so scary - hallucination, yet nothing else besides that. The next couple of stages provide even less surprises, apart from those occasions where he starts talking even more to himself about how he is afraid that the drone might kill him. In the few levels that remain he gets even more paranoid until he reaches the end, where a great deal of what was going on all this time will be explained in a couple lines of text - but until then, sorry, no plot.

Screenshot for Anoxemia on PC

The game doesn't even try that hard to be a horror experience. It's not claustrophobic enough, doesn't play with the ears, eyes, and mind of the player enough, and, more importantly, it gets way too boring after a couple of stages. Imagine playing Grand Theft Auto for an hour, just to see one minute of Silent Hill-like bizarreness. Would that be scary? Furthermore, it's hard to have any sort of connection with Dr. Beiley, partly due to his non-existing charisma, but mainly because after controlling the drone for such a long period of time instead of him, the player gets somewhat detached from the one that was supposed to be the main protagonist.

The flaws far exceed the few strong points, which are mostly centred around how Anoxemia looks and sounds. Looking past the beautifully rendered darkness of the deep, though, it's hard not to be annoyed by the inconvenient control scheme, the badly-implemented chain-linked relationship of the drone and the "main" character, and the simplistic, uninspiring gameplay. Furthermore, although this is supposed to be a sci-fi horror title, which is heavily dependent on its story, it's not - it's just a moody, but also mundane adventure, with little to no plot.

Screenshot for Anoxemia on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Although this was a predominately negative review, it doesn't mean that this little indie title is bad… just very, very average and certainly not what it's marketed to be. The drone-human relationship is here to make things look innovative, yet it just makes everything more aggravating. Finally, there's - almost - no plot or element of horror in what is advertised as a scary "story-driven exploration game." The only thing that it has going for it is its looks, and, unfortunately, they also lose their charm after a while.


BSK Games


BSK Games





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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