XBLA Review: Hydrophobia

Should you let this game sink or swim?

Hydrophobia is a game that has some great water effects, but sadly doesn’t have much else going for it. The story takes place on a city ship that is under siege from a terrorist group called the Malthusians and their intentions are a bit odd, claiming that to save the world we all need to kill ourselves. The ship ends up getting over flown with water from explosions and your character Kate has to try and stop them. It’s all very basic and ends rather abruptly with a “To Be Continued” screen, so there are plans to make a sequel already.

The game plays like a third-person adventure game with the odd shooting section, think of it like a lesser Tomb Raider aboard an ocean vessel and you’ll get some idea, but Kate handles very stiff and the controls aren’t the greatest. The camera is problematic at critical moments, jumping is awkwardly done with the Y button and the less said about trying to be stealthy and shooting, the better.

The water effects are impressive for sure, but the underlying problem is that the game is average at best. Combat feels out of place for an engineer like Kate who just feels so uncomfortable to control, like she doesn’t want to move at all. You can move the camera with the right analog stick, but it can be a right pain. It’s also a pretty short game that will only have you come back to hunt for collectables.

Kate isn’t by herself but has her friend Scoot on comms to give her tips, but he’s just so irritating. To be honest, all the voice-acting is pretty bad. The music is dramatic and fits the atmosphere though, so it’s a real mixed bag in terms of audio. Visually, the game has some great moments such as the water effects, but the rest of the game looks poor in comparison to what is on this generation of consoles.

The Verdict

Hydrophobia is sadly, very forgettable. It may have some great water effects, but it has nothing else going for it. The gameplay is flawed, the camera is awkward and Kate is a pain to control. It’s also short and you’ll be annoyed by the ending. I’d let this one sink if I were you…