Narcosis – PC Review

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Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: Honor Code, Inc.
Publisher: Honor Code, Inc.
Release Date: Mar 28, 2017
Edited by KnightAvenger

You are an industrial diver sent for a routine job. Next thing you know, a massive quake traps you in sunless depths of the Pacific Ocean. Your only mission is to survive with limited tools, ever dropping oxygen, and find your way back to the surface. You won’t find any eldritch-inspired horrors or a secret organization with take-over-the-world plans. It’s just you, your half-ton, high-tech “walking coffin” diving suit, and your own fears. Narcosis is a state similar to intoxication and can cause the loss of balance and manual dexterity; hallucinations may occur. Divers experience narcosis below 30 meters (100 feet) when breathing compressed air.

After a short and simple training session, you are plunged into the Pacific Ocean to meet up with the rest of the team. The controls are a little odd. Instead of straying from side to side, your body will turn and leave your head, looking in the same direction. You never fully get used to it and it does get frustrating at times. Other than small amounts of platforming used throughout the game, don’t expect much in the way of action. You trudge along the bottom of the ocean at a slow pace. Water resistance plus a half-ton diving suit equipped means you will not be moving fast at any time. It can feel a little too slow at times.

The first person you meet is Russ. As you walk along the pathway to head towards the habitat, a narrative starts. Now, I will quit a game and uninstall it, leaving the game unfinished, if the voice-acting is bad. I’m a sucker for decent voice-acting and this narrator nailed it for me. The voiceover is a smooth, natural sounding voice of someone recalling detailed events. He accurately conveys survivor’s guilt he feels from surviving the ordeal in a calm, solemn way.

The amount of scares is pretty minimal. Narcosis relied heavily on the narrator’s ability to keep you cautiously engaged. I would place this more in a suspense category than horror. Scares were spaced out with only a few “NOPE!” moments involved. Jump scares are cheap and cheesy, but they work for me. There were a few scares in Narcosis that did get to me although not as many as I had hoped for. Your character getting stressed out and breathing faster will trigger your oxygen depletion rate to increase. Finding a body, for instance, will start this. Also, every time you look at that body, it will trigger the depletion. I found the body, I acknowledge my buddy is dead, I STILL GET STRESSED. That was annoying. Do not worry; you can find plenty of oxygen canisters and refill stations around the seabed and inside the habitats.

You experience narcosis-induced hallucinations, which causes the environments to get a little strange. These hallucinated rooms feel a little tedious and unnecessary, but they do fit in with the plot. The above image is from one of those rooms. You can see a small door she is floating above. There are a few small, uncomplicated puzzles throughout the game. It’s about interacting with the environment in the proper way but you mostly stumble upon the correct order of things.

As you work your way towards the surface, you notice the flora and fauna of the Pacific Ocean. Among the things with you are crabs and squids. The squids will actively try to eat you. Your only defense is a knife you brought on your deep sea adventure. Time your hits correctly and you will not take damage. If you do not time them properly, the squid will attach itself to you. Even turning and attempting to run away will do no good. Remember, you are a human in a half-ton suit and are not equipped to move through water quickly; that squid is.

The length of Narcosis was pretty short. I was able to complete the title in just under three hours. It would have been longer if I had bothered to locate all the collectibles the game has. The collectibles help the story unfold. They tell you about each person that was on that dive team and helps you determine who you are.

Overall, the story was decent, the gameplay was a bit meh, and replayability is low. When the credits rolled, I felt underwhelmed. Looking at this game through trailers and screenshots, I was excited and hoped for more than what was offered. Achievement hunters might enjoy the short list of achievements. For me, the narrator and story carried this title.

Pros:

  • Great voice-acting
  • Intriguing story
  • Ambient sounds
  • Simplified Layers of Fear vibe

Cons:

  • Textures on models look like smooth plastic
  • Length is too short

Nakupenda91 gives Narcosis a Drastik Measure of 7.0 out of 10 (70)

Narcosis is available on Steam, Xbox One, and PS4 for $19.99 (USD).