Developer: Honor Code, Inc.
Publisher: Honor Code, Inc.
Narcosis is a story driven atmospheric adventure with both survival and horror elements. The game is available in VR, but I played using my desktop.
In Narcosis you play as an industrial diver deep within the Pacific Ocean. After a catastrophic event occurs at your base, the status of your team is unknown. You must reconnect with your friends, and escape back to the surface before your oxygen runs out. The game is very story driven; the narrative is told in parallel to the gameplay. I liked it a lot. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the game actually caused me to say “oh wow” (in a good way) out loud while playing. Some people may not have that same reaction, but I found it very interesting, and quite bizarre at times.
Gameplay wise, you will spend a lot of time walking or thrusting along, and even doing some platforming as you need to jump over or climb up obstacles. You’re on a linear path with clear objectives at hand, but there are some hidden items with more backstory to find off the main routes.
The only stat that you need to actively monitor is your oxygen level. Being in close proximity to hostiles, or bodies increases your anxiety, and causes you to burn through your oxygen quicker. It adds a good sense of urgency to your missions, and also creates an appropriate amount of panic when trying to flee the situation. There are sufficient oxygen tanks available, so it’s not too much of a hassle, and it doesn’t deter you from exploring off the main path. There are also plenty of flares to use as well; it’s maybe a bit on the side of too many flares.
There is some combat throughout the game, but it isn’t that frequent. The anglerfish and octopus can be killed or chased off by knifing them a few times. The majority of my deaths were caused by those damn spidercrabs that one shot you. It’s the only sea creature you can’t kill or fight off, but you can distract them with your flares and try to hurry past them.
- the story is very intriguing, and extremely well done
- effective horror elements: jump scares will get you quite a few times, but they don’t feel cheesy or too overdone
- there is a good amount of tension created by the fantastic atmosphere, and the immersion is superb
- oxygen survival mechanics are effective at creating a sense of urgency to move onwards, while at the same time, not being too much of a hassle that it deters you from exploring
- audio is absolutely amazing all around: the music and sound effects are excellent
- the voicing for the narrative is stellar, and feels spot on
- environments look great on top of the impeccable audio, and it works so well to create this tremendously immersive game
- the keybindings are fully customizable and there is full controller support
- (nitpick) HUD is bit large, so it may be distracting at first, and take some getting used to
- (nitpick) the sea creatures could use some improvements, as the models aren’t that appealing, and on a couple rare occasions they got caught on the terrain
The game took me roughly 3-3.5 hours to complete. Once you finish the game, you can choose to go back to the different chapters if you want to gather more collectibles and learn more about the characters.
Overall, Narcosis is an excellent game. It’s a bit on the short side, but the story is solid, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. It definitely gives me a bit of that SOMA vibe, and I expect that anyone who enjoys a good story driven atmospheric horror game, will like playing Narcosis.
Press copy was provided for this review.