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Hydrophobia – hands-on

By the year 2051, the world’s population will have hit a staggering total of 9.8 billion. Mankind’s resources will be unable to cope with the demands. Clean water will be hard to source. Food supplies are projected to be even tougher to maintain. Space shortages will give rise to housing problems. For many, the world will not end in a bang – rather, it will wither away slowly, as its inhabitants are starved and left without the basics needed for life.

In Hydrophobia’s grim future – which, it should be noted, is frighteningly close to select scientific projections – five self-proclaimed founding fathers think they’ve got the answer. The heads of the world’s biggest companies decide to pool resources to create a floating paradise called the Queen of the World, where their research into the enhancement of supplies isn’t impeded by stringent government regulations. Their ideas eerily echo those of Andrew Ryan. Their world may be on the surface rather than the sea bed, but the free-from-state principles remain intact. And, rather unsurprisingly, not everybody agrees with the idea.

Though protesters were initially placated by the news that clean-as-soap nano-machine R&D group NanoCell were pouring all their money into new water purification systems, a decade of silence has dashed all hopes. All the while, a collection of Neo-Malthusian terrorists have been infiltrating the ship’s hierarchies, laying down sleeper cells ready to strike when the time is right.

Hydrophobia begins just before the tenth anniversary of the Queen of the World’s launch. On the eve of the anniversary celebrations, NanoCell’s playboy head John Dolton breaks company silence and throws a giant party for the world’s leaders to unveil his plans to enhance human life. But before NanoCell saves the world, the terrorists strike, and one of their bombs sends an elevator - with engineer and Hydrophobia protagonist Kate Wilson – careering down to the ship’s lowest decks. Ker-ash.

With no security clearance (you can thank a system-wiping computer virus for that), her goal to reach the Queen’s top levels and escape the flooding vessel isn’t going to be easy. To make things worse, a traumatic childhood experience - during which Kate lost her sister - has left her with a fear of water, and the ship’s hull is failing fast.

It’s been more than two years since we first got our eyes all over Hydrophobia. Back then, it was little more than a swanky wetness engine; now it’s almost complete. In its 24 months underground (or should that be underwater?), the biggest change has unquestionably been its shift from full retail release to a downloadable title. Hydrophobia’s story has been split into three episodes of around five hours each to be released within a twelve month window. If it proves to be successful, there’s potential for more episodes beyond the original three.

Although digital deliveries are normally associated with lesser games, nothing has been scaled back to squeeze Hydrophobia’s file size down. It’s a game comparable to most full-priced titles you’d care to mention (and indeed, offering more than some of them), and is best described as a kind of damp amalgamation of Tomb Raider and Dead Space.

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7 comments

  • CreeplyTuna - September 23, 2009 1:55 a.m.

    might try
  • Elementskater - September 22, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    @ Frexerik Yes, terrorists have taken over this boat. They are scary because... THEY ARE TERRORISTS.. I'd think someone who has a gun and shooting at me is scary, think about it. and they do not make the water scary,She has a fear of water due to some childhood experience where her sister died, hence the name "HYDROPHOBIA", which if you break the title down you get; HYDRO = WATER, PHOBIA = FEAR OF; in dumb people terms :p Read the article before asking questions it answers.
  • Frexerik - September 22, 2009 6:20 p.m.

    Wait, i diddent understand, are we battleing against terrorists? why are they scary? and how do they make water scary? sounds interesting though...
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - September 23, 2009 5:55 a.m.

    So Dead Space in the near future but instead of Isaac we have Lara Croft.Sounds like fun to me.Also will there be creepy drowning scenes.
  • WaffleLeech - September 22, 2009 11:21 p.m.

    I remember seeing a trailer for this game at least a year ago and was interested, but it sorta died like Alan Wake for a while and I wanted to know more. Very timely.
  • cart00n - September 22, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    I remember reading about this in OXM some ages ago, talking about how the water physics ain't just pretty, they're the whole point of the game. That and the sanity of the hydrophobic main character. Made me think of Eternal Darkness underwater back then. Now it sounds more like Uncharted on a sinking boat, sprinkled with a little Bioshock. Either way, as someone who has spent most of his life close to water, I can tell you it can be pretty scary under the right conditions. If they get the water physics right, in all those cramped spaces, with gun-totin' terrorists? Yeah, that sounds pretty tense to me... reCaptcha: windex be
  • TheIronMaiden - September 22, 2009 6:40 p.m.

    man this is the first time I've heard of this one, sounds very interesting and original though.

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