Water, lots and lots of water. If a name like Hydrophobia doesn’t already tell you that there will be lots of water then you need a dictionary. Hydrophobia: Prophecy is all about water, and its one of the good things about this game.
In Hydrophobia: Prophecy you play as Kate Wilson, a systems engineer on board the city sized luxury ship named ‘Queen of the World’. It’s the 21st Century and the world has taken a turn for the worse. The ‘Queen of the World’ was built and run by a group called the Five Founding Fathers, and they have been prospering while the world has been suffering. The ship comes under attack by a group known as the Malthusians, and everything gets turn up side down.
Hydrophobia: Prophecy’s biggest setting point is the ‘HydroEngine’ which provides realistic fluid dynamics for the game. Fitting for a game built around water. The ‘HydroEngine’ allows the water in the game to interact with the environment and surroundings as if it were real, being affected by doors, walls, and other objects in the game. The game is played in a 3rd person perspective, which allows you a good vantage for interacting with your environment.
The graphics for this game are decent, considering it was released over 5 years ago, and built for last generation of consoles. Probably the best features of the graphics is the attention to detail the developers put into the water, which again, is the main focal point of the game with the ‘HydroEngine’. But what they put into the visuals for water, they lack pretty much everywhere else. I’m not saying the graphics are bad, but there is also nothing to really grab your attention. The game looks nice, and also plays decently well, but we’ll take a look into that later on.
Audio & Sound
While this game is listed as a survivor horror game, sounds and music are usually a huge part of this in order to build up the player into the atmosphere and mood. Hydrophobia: Prophecy falls flat here, with mediocre sounds and music, and I really felt nothing from the ambiance of the game. I never felt like this was a horror or survival game at all, and just felt I needed to complete the puzzles in order to continue.
This is where I will probably rant a little bit, so I apologize. Hydrophobia: Prophecy is supposed to be a horror survival adventure game. Adventure is correct, but horror survival is far from the truth. Playing in 3rd person mode, while adequate, it doesn’t do the game justice, as you can’t really put yourself into the shoes of Kate Wilson, the protagonist that you play. I feel that a 1st person perspective would be more fitting, they would need to mix in a bit of both first and third, or allow the player to choose which one is to their liking. I felt the game played clunky at best, which was very disappointing given the fact the ‘HydroEngine’ made such an improvement on the way water interacts with the environment. It almost seems like the developer made this game for a demonstration of the ‘HydroEngine’ and didn’t really care about the rest of it.
The puzzles in Hydrophobia are very ‘Tomb Raider’ like, mostly consisting of climbing this ladder or set of pipes, unlock a certain door. While the game levels were generated using ‘Infinite Worlds’, a game creation system which uses procedural technology to significantly reduce file sizes, and supposedly allow for greater replay-ability since certain aspects of each level will randomly change on each playthrough (i.e. water levels might change, walls might buckle) the puzzles will generally remain the same.
The controls for Hydrophobia: Prophecy are terrible. While they still use the WASD format, you can definitely tell that the game was designed for console, and ported to PC. I often found myself running in circles when I only wanted to turn around, and climbing/jumping were clunky, and overall just cumbersome. I suppose if I wanted to I could have used a controller to play, but I don’t often have access to a controller on my PC.
You are also given a ‘Mavi’. A tablet like device that allows you to see hidden things around the levels, as well as locate objectives, and opening or hacking doors. It’s a useful tool for you to have, but it does always seem to be used to keep you playing along a linear path, with hidden arrows strewn about the level to make sure you keep going the direction the game wants you to go.
Overall the game looks decent, but it doesn’t play very well. It misses the horror survival mark by a lot, and the controls on PC make it very cumbersome or robotic almost in order to play. The graphics are neat, but the biggest selling point is the HydroEngine which makes the water effects almost perfect.