Reviews

Aquanox Deep Descent: Is it Worth The Price?

After 17 years, THQ Nordic and Digital Arrow have finally released the next installment in the Aquanox series. Let’s take a look at what Aquanox Deep Descent has to offer players:

What is Aquanox?

The Aquanox game series began in November of 1996 (in the EU) and April 1997 (in the US) with the release of the predecessor and beginning of the series, Archimedean Dynasty.

Archimedean Dynasty start screen
Credit: MS-DOS

Developed by Massive Development and published by Blue Byte, the game centered around a mercenary named Emerald “Deadeye” Flint and his ventures in the world of Aqua, the post-apocalyptic underwater setting of the Aquanox series of games. The goal of the game is to continuously upgrade your sub-vehicle and obtain faster and stronger ships. Aquanox Deep Descent, the latest installment in the series, follows 4 different characters and allows players to control several different nearly fully customizable ships. Each of these characters are known as “cryos” and have been locked in cryostasis for hundreds of years. At the beginning of the game, the “cryos” are woken up and thrust into the completely unknown world of Aqua where they meet a guide known only as “Ishmael” who helps them escape after being attacked by an enemy known as “The Bionts” an enemy introduced in the original Archimedean Dynasty as a type of cybernetically enhanced “human.”

Start Tutorial / Start New Campaign screen

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When first beginning Aquanox Deep Descent, the game allows you to choose between starting the tutorial or hopping right into the game right off the bat. I highly suggest starting the tutorial, especially if you, like me, are highly unfamiliar with underwater sub-simulators. The tutorial gives players a decent sense of what they can expect from a majority of the game from salvaging parts to upgrade your sub and maneuvering tight corners and small spaces, to battling it out with enemies shooting at you from left, right, and every direction in between. Most of the tutorial enemies, however, are mostly stationary and the ones that do move don’t exactly move the way that the campaign enemies move. There are also a few abilities that are introduced in the campaign that are not introduced in the tutorial, these abilities are the Primary and Secondary Modules (bound to Q and V respectively). I’m still not really sure how to properly use these, as the Primary Module seems to act as a major boost forward, but it doesn’t seem to stop until your ship hits something (I’ve definitely been killed a few times because of this as it does quite a bit of damage to your ship).

Jump gate used for long=distance travel

Now let’s talk about controls. The controls are well…not great. Now, this is more than likely due to my use of mouse and keyboard rather than a controller or preferably a complete joystick, but at least on mouse and keyboard, the game feels incredibly slow. When moving side-to-side, even with the sensitivity cranked up to 10 (max), I still find myself dragging my mouse across nearly my entire desk or spending lots of time making lot of smaller, faster movements to turn my ship one way or the other. This doesn’t really scream fun and seems more like a chore to me. Of course, players who are familiar with the series may already be aware of these controls and may have differing opinions, but to me, it doesn’t feel good. The game itself feels more like an underwater maze than an underwater shooter. While I do understand how this can be appealing to certain players, personally, I am not a fan of this kind of gameplay.

Ship ability customization

So..what’s the verdict? Is Aquanox Deep Descent worth the $29.99 price point? If you’re a fan of the previous Aquanox games or if you enjoy underwater sub-simulators, then yeah, you’ll probably have a good time and I would suggest picking it up. If you prefer your games more action-packed and fast-paced like I do, then I would probably suggest you play something else.

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