Hydrophobia Prophecy

I don’t understand the title of this game, either title for that matter. A fear of water is implied in the first couple of minutes of the game as you are introduced to Hydrophobia Prophecy with a confusing cut scene of a young girl drowning. But if you explore your apartment following that cut scene, you find that you were an exceptional swimmer in high school. Every time you start to run out of breath while swimming, you start to hear a child’s terrified cry or whimper. Asides from this, the initial cut scene is never explained and considering 90% of the game has you interacting with water, the main character doesn’t seem to have a big issue with water. And the Prophecy part? I don’t know, I think it’s just one of those words that game developers add onto their titles to make up for a poor game.

And that brings us to the review. Hydrophobia Prophecy isn’t very good. But before I get into why, it’s not completely awful. Considering it’s a 2010 game, the graphics aren’t bad, though not amazing. But it’s the water physics that is this game’s shining crown and glory. The water flows, pours and ripples naturally, not too clear and not too murky. When you open doors or break glass with varying water levels, the water flows from one area to another in waves and levels out. Dark Energy Digital have produced a very good water physics simulator in their HydroEngine. It’s just a pity they didn’t put as much effort into the game itself.

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You will spend most of this game covered in this strange, flowing substance.

Hydrophobia Prophecy is set in the mid-21st Century after the world has fallen victim to the “Great Population Flood”. You are Kate Wilson, a system engineers of a city-sized ship called Queen of the World, a floating utopian city founded by several corporations. After the initial exploration of your apartment, you discover that Kate is an amazing swimmer, enthusiastic rock climber and passable systems engineer (as disclosed by your degree on the wall). The ship is bombed on its anniversary by a bunch anti-discriminatory genocidal terrorists lead by a female bond villain (middle-aged, white hair, scarred and Eastern-European). As Kate Wilson, you become the unlikely hero who coincidentally has amazing fitness levels and the technical the know-how to get around a ship in which the security is compromised.

Why did I think this game was bad? Hydrophobia Prophecy aims to be a cover-based, stealth shooter, similar vein to Deus Ex but without the RPG elements. But the stealth elements are absolutely horrible as cover is the only real element that provides stealth. And considering that most of the cover in corridors are clear glass signs, stealth is near impossible. As soon as you pop up to shoot someone, swim underwater, or breath within 200 meters of anyone, all the enemies in the room, as a collective, know you’re there. You can attempt to kill them by electrocution, burning, stunning then drowning or just plain ol’ shooting. But by killing anyone by any means, directly or indirectly, the enemies as a collective know you’re there. There’s a greater emphasis on using the environment to dispatch of enemies which involves red, explosive barrels; electrical wires and flooding. You can also hack security, but you can’t be in cover to do this. So you have to expose yourself to use your hacking device, which not only makes you blind to what’s going on around you, but also proves to be entirely useless as the only time you have use for it is when you’re first taught how.

Because the stealth is so bad, the game becomes a generic, watered-down, cover-based shooter. You have 1 weapon with 5 different ammo (i.e. stun, single shot, auto-fire, remote detonation grenade and remote detonation shock grenade). Majority of encounters involved me shooting a guy enough times in the face before he killed me, waiting for my health to regenerate before moving onto the next guy.

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I might just hide behind these clear panels.

What else is wrong with the game? Here’s a list:

  • The platforming is buggy as often you don’t quite latch on platforms correctly. Or in one case, spending 15 minutes on the same part because I had moved too far to the left for the cut scene to initiate properly as I moved to the next rung. I died at 4 times before I figured it out.
  • The autosaving is odd and mostly random, saving at odd times or in the middle of a combat sequences, or not at all for too long periods of time.
  • The map is completely undecipherable as it tries to display multiple levels all at once and if your destination is on a lower level, good luck in finding it.
  • The controls are sluggish and sometimes random. For example depending on the situation, moving down is either ‘s’, ‘c’ or ‘shift’. Instructions on controls constantly pop-up, because without them you wouldn’t be able to remember.
  • Your sidekick, who is constantly in your ear, is a sluggish archtype of the wise-cracking side kick as most of his ‘cracks’ are done while you’re in a dire situation. I’m still not completely sure what happened to him in the end.
  • A slight initial positive. You get water bending powers a couple of hours into the game which allow you to move the water that surrounds you. Negatives? Fifteen minutes after gaining these powers, the game ends; waves of water are useless against enemies unless you picked up an object to throw, which rarely happens. And after all that, you can’t even use the power from cover and it’s less effective than your stun gun.

Hydrophobia Prophecy is only worth having a go if you’re interested in water physics in games. Otherwise the game is not very well done due to many flaws and bugs, only being about 3 hours long, poor design and poor mechanics. Dark Energy Digital went under after low sales of this game, which is unfortunately what happens when you produce a sub-par game. More unfortunately is their response to some negative reviews which can be read about in this article. Looking at the title image below, don’t get fooled into thinking this is an action game where you use your magical water power to defeat the bad guys. The below image represents about 8.5% of the game, 6% of that being an awful, awkward, out of the blue boss fight.

Hydrophobia Prophecy is currently available on Steam for $4.99 and the Sony Entertainment Network (PS3)for $2.99. Hydrophobia is available on XBLA for $2.99.

HYDRPPROP

Next review in 3 weeks will be The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

next time

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2 thoughts on “Hydrophobia Prophecy

  1. Hydrophobia was intended to be a three-parter as far as I understood it when it first appeared on the XBox marketplace. Bad sales of the first in the series made the company developing it go bankrupt and thus the story was never completed. The elements you described of the story which were never revealed would have been in the sequels, as would a more extensive use of the water powers you obtain.

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