Review: Hydrophobia Prophecy

Hydrophobia Prophecy • PC, PS3 (version reviewed)  • £6.29 • Out Now

Water…

Behind Dark Energy’s Hydrophobia Prophecy lies a strange and twisting tale of the developmental process of games. Originally release as just Hydrophobia, the game garnered a very divided response – either reviewers were in awe of the water and gameplay, or they thought the liquid mechanics were just there to mask another dull and uninspired 3rd person shooter. Dark Energy took umbridge with the negative reviews and went ballistic, accusing publications and websites alike of not being fair to the game.

It all seemed to die down, but somewhere along the way, Dark Energy took a moment and thought about things. After looking at every review of the game, they went about trying to improve the original which resulted in the Pure update, and after yet more analysing, they released Prophecy through Steam, in which 70% of the game is new, while a lot of the levels are different from the original, while there were also a whole abundance of gameplay changes. And now, finally, we have the PSN version with Move compatibility. Is this the definitive version of the game?

Well, let’s start with the water – after all, this is what the game is all about. The fluid and dynamic motion of the wet stuff is nigh on brilliant and I don’t think there’s a game that can compete with the HydroEngine physics it exhibits. Bulkheads cave in, waves of water rush you and knock you off balance and then water acts like water does in real life and moves around as the world changes. The rest of the graphics are nothing to be sniffed at either, thought it’s clear to see most of the effort has gone into the liquid.

…water…

Now, as for the bread and butter of 3rd person games – combat and puzzles – well, it’s a mixed bag. The stun gun you spend most of the game with is a nice touch as it is more an engineer tool, as you’d expect to find on a ship, but you’ll find enough upgrades to keep you going, but there’s limited use to get out of them.  All in all, it all ends up being a bit simplistic.

Talking of simplistic, the puzzles aren’t particularly up to much, being more of the ‘find the thing by following the blatant arrows variety’, though the hacking of consoles is handled well, using wavelengths and the analogue sticks. And then there’s the one game mechanic that could have been, which is criminally underused and you’re left feeling that the game has ended a bit too soon. I won’t spoil what it is, as it’s story related, but once you see it in action, you’ll wonder why the game wasn’t based around it.

The game also supports the Move controller, and barring a few camera issues (it just couldn’t decide where to look when I was swimming), it’s been implemented well, with the cover system and combat benefiting greatest.

…and more water.

Finally though, and most impressively (for me anyway) is Darknet. It may sound like Skynet’s even eviler twin, but it’s Dark Energy’s way of getting user feedback in-game. You can tell it at any point if you like certain bits or if you don’t. It’s a wonderfully simplistic tool that really isn’t utilised enough in games and given their track record, it really shows the devs are listening to feedback, following their initial attack on critics. It’s great to see a game dev taking its time to improve upon an already existing game through this system, rather than forgetting about it and running on to a sequel.

All in all, this probably is the best version of the game available. The option to use the motion controls is nice as well, and it doesn’t actually feel too different from normal, which is the best way to implement such a mechanic. While the puzzles are a bit forgettable and a bit more thought could have gone into weapons and water manipulation, you’ll come back for the graphics and the experience – it’s surprisingly enjoyable

+ Fantastic water effects and commendable graphics for a downloadable title
+ Decent Move support
+ An in-game feedback system
+ Decent combat and controls

– Puzzles are arbitrary at best
– Horrendously underused game mechanics

Verdict: 7/10
A game best enjoyed in one sitting, it’s certainly worth a look for the price.

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