The last title in the Aquanox series was released about 17 years ago, a time that allowed the gaming market to develop and change. Since then, first person underwater titles that focused clearly on the shooting aspect have almost disappeared, leaving room for a continuous increase of a certain nostalgia of the past. We are recently witnessing a timid resurgence of the genre and successful Kickstarters even funded some of these projects. THQ Nordic and Digital Arrow tried to answer the call by reviving the Aquanox series. Here is my Aquanox Deep Descent review on PC.
To survive a terrible nuclear war that made the air on the surface unbreathable, humanity went to the oceans to develop new civilizations. Soon different factions were created, bringing humanity back to hostile and aggressive habits. Submarine space has become increasingly bitter thanks to the presence of many belligerent fauna which denies humanity a true free exploration of the seas.
However, an expert has assembled the perfect team to start Project Nammu, an effort that might save humanity. Unfortunately, this group of experts and mercenaries, due to a long cryostasis, no longer remembers anything. In THQ Nordic’s Aquanox Deep Descent, you will therefore have to refresh their memories in a path that will lead them to search for the mysterious Nemo.
The narrative offers interesting bases of lore that intrigue with the succession of events, but the characters and relevant actions fail to make the game shine. Although the title can make you smile for certain effective phrases during combat, other times I witness a complete lack of emotion and purity. If we combine the fact that most of the characters are stereotypes, it is easy to guess that this is not a masterpiece.
GOING IN SLOW MOTION
In Aquanox Deep Descent, you can navigate the seas with your submarine. The basic controls are simple to learn and quite intuitive: Ctrl to go down, Spacebar to go up, Shift for the turbo, and mouse to turn. The weapons available are many and interchangeable on the fly, making the challenges with the enemies very dynamic and fun.
You’ll be able to equip two heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, auto-seeker weapons, shotguns, sniper rifles, and mines. The problems arise when you actually have to face the missions. In fact, the game consists of a continuous succession of tasks that are just too similar to each other, which gets quite boring after a while.
When starting the game, you will notice that the submarines are very slow and do not encourage fun. For example, it was almost uncomfortable to face a certain section where you had to escape, but the slowness did not allow for any sense of tension and adrenaline to emerge. Only when some advanced submarines are unlocked, will it become possible to make significant sprints and accelerations.
LOOKING FOR RESOURCES
THQ Nordic’s Aquanox Deep Descent takes place in some medium-sized closed maps. Inside these maps it is possible to move freely, looking for new resources to get which are easily located on the mini map by following the appropriate icons. The latter in particular will be extremely useful for upgrading some parts of your submarines.
This is by far the most important task as it allows you to increase the characteristics of your submarine. This includes the movement speed, shields, resistance, and power of other components that will help you in the adventure. However, the title does not let the player run, despite having the necessary resources to upgrade. The game will not allow you to do so until you have advanced far enough in the main storyline.
Outside of exploration and fighting, you will spend much of your time inside large establishments, which can be defined as primary hubs. However, they are not really explorable. They are in fact large menus where you can have access to the upgrade garage, a shop to buy resources, talk to the NPCs (who are all quite similar to each other), or read the codex that is well-stocked with information about the world.
BETTER WITH FRIENDS
THQ Nordic’s Aquanox Deep Descent comes complete with a cooperative mode where up to 4 players can play the main storyline of the game together. Take note that this is definitely a much better experience than the single player mode. You can also search for a match online or host it yourself. You can set up fun fights for up to eight players or against bots.
By choosing among the 6 available submarines (each with unique characteristics), you will fight within some maps made specifically for this mode. All ships in the game will be fully upgraded, and even slower ones will move more agile than in their basic single player version. This will allow for some dynamic challenges between submarines, rewarding the players who best know how to aim and govern their armament.
As in a classic arena multiplayer, it will be easy to find freely collectable weapons scattered around the map. In addition, at each death you can change your basic submarine, thus being able to change strategy based on the approach of the enemies. This is a mode that is certainly not revolutionary, but which can entertain those looking for a 90s-style experience.
Digital Arrow’s Aquanox Deep Descent is definitely a good-looking game which, however, lacks a poor design in the overall environments. In this game we face a huge generational leap graced by an underwater fog that knows how to give atmosphere. Unfortunately, at the same time it also flattens and confuses the landscape.
As for the performance of the game, I would have expected something better, but I am more than sure that you will have no difficulty in running it with a computer no older than four or five years. The user interface, on the other hand, still remains a bit inadequate and pales in comparison with certain menus of Aquanox 2. However, the cockpits are a delight for the eyes, full of details and semi-interactive elements.
Do you want to try Digital Arrow and THQ Nordic’s Aquanox Deep Descent? What do you think of my Aquanox Deep Descent review on PC? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Are you interested in more recently released games? Check out our reviews for Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, The Survivalists, and Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.