Recently I was invited to get a hands-on preview for the upcoming Steam game, Aquanox: Deep Descent. Fans of first person shooters that also have role playing game elements strewn in will be in for a treat. Aquanox allows players to take on the role of an explorer, traversing the depths of the sea, one dark cave at a time. Along the way you’ll have to interact with crewmates as well as other people you run into.
Taught at sea
When you start out, you’ll have the option to play the tutorial in the game or jump right into the main story. I recommend playing the tutorial so you get the feel of the controls. Getting the feel for the way the weapons shoot as well as the way your vehicle moves will take some getting used to. Since this is a first person shooter, being able to aim weapons will be key and the aiming at times felt off. What I mean by off is it was tough to make precision shots. However, the way the vessel moves plays into tough weapon aims.
During the tutorial, you also get the basics behind crafting weapons and other items. While exploring the sea you’ll be able to find things in the sea inside debris and use it to craft ammo for your weapons or replenishing health/shield items. You’ll be relying plenty on your health and shield gauge throughout the game but it doesn’t alert you to the fact that your shield gauge replenishes overtime. The aspect that took me the longest to feel comfortable with was driving my vessel underwater. I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to dual stick control schemes as sometimes it’s tough to feel in control while driving but this game doesn’t feel off in that regard.
Getting your sea legs
During the tutorial, you'll be provided an early glimpse of the game's story. It appears that your character has been put into a sleep-like status and has been awoken into a future that wasn’t ideal for anyone. All that is left is the hydro landscape of Aqua and you’ll have to be on your toes to survive. Luckily you won’t have to traverse the deep seas alone as you’re traveling along with the crew of the Tupilaq, the large craft that will provide assistance during your adventure. The Tupilaq was giving off hub location vibes or the main shop in a role playing game. You can upgrade your vessel by using the mechanic on the Tupilaq.
During your adventure, you’ll find all kinds of stuff on the sea floor to sell or trade and luckily your ship has a trader on board where you can buy or sell these items. At the mechanic’s shop, you’ll also be able to buy/sell items for your vessel as well as equip them. Interacting with the crew as well as other non-playable characters you meet along the way will be key for survival as well. You never know who could turn out to be an ally or an enemy but the way you talk to them will play a role in how that turns out. Buying a drink for some guy you just met at one of the locations could pay off in the long run as that guy could be someone useful, like a mechanic, and offer you goods as a thanks for buying him a drink.
You can change weapons on the fly but just remember to equip them after you craft them or buy them. The action comes quickly and you’ll need the right weapon to attack! I mentioned earlier that aiming your weapons is a bit of a hassle but there is a handy lock-on command that aims for you. If you get homing weapons, your aiming issues will be a thing of the past. It was tough to even tell what you needed to shoot at prior to locking on to them, as it doesn’t work unless you’re close to the target in question. Unfortunately at the time of writing this preview, the online mode was unavailable but there will be online player versus player in death matches/team dogfights as well as online co-op when the full version launches.
Dive down deep
To recap, Aquanox: Deep Descent combines first person shooting elements with that of role playing games. You’ll be able to customize your undersea craft with simplistic controls. You’ll have to be quick-witted to survive the depths of Aqua. Aquanox: Deep Descent releases in 2020 for Steam as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.