March 2017 has been a important month for games thus far. It’s been high-profile release after high-profile release so far, and with the nextDark Souls III dlc and final Destiny live event set to drop next week, it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down anytime soon. With all these major releases dropping one after another it can be easy to forget that there’s plenty going on in the independent scene as well, but there are some games that manage to break through nonetheless. Narcosis is one of them.
(video from the Honor Code YouTube channel.)
Narcosis follows the story of a currently unnamed industrial diver as he desperately struggles to survive in the ocean’s dark depths after getting cut off from both his team and his support on the surface. Over the course of his journey, he will have to contend with hostile sea life, treacherous terrain, and an ever-dwindling supply of oxygen; not to mention the constant threat of isolation/oxygen deprivation-induced hallucinations. Simply put, Narcosis is a survival/horror that trades the supernatural for a much more grounded, and thus all too real, source of dread.
I only just recently found out about Narcosis via the above trailer, but it’s actually been around since at least 2014. Thanks to the links on the game’s official website, I found several articles from gaming news outlets who’d had the opportunity to get some hand’s on time with the game. According to a 2014 Polygon article, Narcosis was originally developed with VR in mind. As far as can be told, it looks like your diver will be spending the entire duration of the game within their industrial diving suit. For those unaware, a modern deep sea diving suit looks something like the following:
They’re awkward, bulky, slow moving things that are also one’s only means of survival at the depths they’re made to operate in. According to the same Polygon article, Honor Code routinely refers to their suit as the “walking coffin”, a nickname that is actually quite apt considering the nature of these suits. It’s a heavy enclosure keeping you from easily moving around or rising to the surface, but at the same time its indispensable. Survival is impossible without it. This sort of suit is what the game is built around. Its bulky slowness is always a factor, be it navigating the sea floor or fending of the more hostile deep ocean creatures. However, your main enemy won’t come from outside the suit, but from within. If anything is going to do your diver in, it’s going to be oxygen deprivation.
Maintaining and restoring your oxygen levels is paramount in Narcosis. Over-exertion causes it to deplete faster. Panic causes it to deplete faster. Looking at disturbing scenes will cause your supply to deplete faster. Loose too much oxygen and your diver will start to suffer everything from the games namesake narcosis to outright hallucinations. Keep those tanks filled and that breathing regulated!
That’s about all I currently know about the game in a nutshell. While the game play systems sound interesting, it’s the atmosphere and setting on display in these trailers and screenshots that’s got me paying attention. The deep sea has always been an object of simultaneous fascination and dread for me. It looks and sounds cool, but the idea of somehow getting stuck alone in those cold, dark, depths is near the pinnacle of dread for me. It something I’ve gotten to explore through movies like The Abyss and Sphere but never before in a game. For that reason, I’m looking forward to jumping into it once time allows.
Narcosis is set to release on March 28, for Steam and the Xbox One. If you’d like a more in depth description of the game please check out the linked article or the game’s official website (also linked below).
Lede image gathered from the Narcosis Steam page.