As a kid, my grandfather took me to see a re-release of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the 1954 Disney movie starring Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre, based on the brilliant novel by Jules Verne. Besides the giant squid what I most remember about the movie were those old deep-sea diving suits with the massive helmets. Those heavy suits must have been so awkward and uncomfortable with an air hose tether. Having played Narcosis I now know what it must have felt like trudging along the ocean like that.
It is excruciatingly slow. So very, very, slow.
In the sluggish deep-sea survival horror game, your work at an underwater base becomes more tragic than the story of Finding Dory when an undersea earthquake rumbles on through causing massive damage and casualties.
Since you’re outside the facility working in your deep-sea diving suit — which resembles Tony Stark’s first Iron Man armor — you are unharmed. You’re determined to locate any survivors before escaping to the surface to be rescued.
Armed with a knife good for warding off menacing octopi, undersea spiders and crabs and some replenishable flares which can be used for illumination and as distractions, you comb the twisted and torn wreckage one excruciating footstep at a time.
Your suit is spooky abyss ready and jetpack-equipped. This allows you to fly ahead in short bursts and zoom across treacherous gaps. Since you walk so slowly, I found myself jetting everywhere using short bursts because I just didn’t have the patience to languidly stomp along the base like Godzilla the entire time.
Here and there, your mind seems to be playing tricks on you – the Narcosis state from the title. Jump scares in form of creepy hallucinations haunt you every step of the way through the ruins of the facility. Locating the victims and checking them off your personnel list is very unnerving as well.
Narcosis has no map or guidance system. Your surroundings quickly become a labyrinth. You may find yourself having to backtrack quite a lot. At times you may feel like a lost giant spider crab thrusting across damaged catwalks, scuttle through ventilation systems and meandering around the ocean floor.
Although the cranky undersea life is a serious challenge, your suit that is the game’s biggest obstacle. Its limited supply of oxygen can be replenished by finding canisters or outlets in the base. As you explore the unknown you will die often due to lack of oxygen or not finding an outlet. This can be extremely frustrating. The game requires plenty trial and error to find the most efficient paths around the maze of twisted metal.
Narcosis’ dark, murky atmosphere is its selling point, especially if you are playing the VR version, which I did not. I can imagine how claustrophobic the experience must be in VR. The standard Xbox One version was unsettling enough. I would hazard to guess though that the VR component probably takes Narcosis to another level. The game is already plenty spooky in its standard form.Narcosis will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Actions fans may have a hard time getting into the plodding pace. Narcosis is methodical in every sense of the word. It appeals to those who appreciate an atmosphere that is suffocating and eerie. If you’ve got the patience and the time Narcosis will pull you under and never let go.
- THE GOOD
- Very atmospheric.
- Lots of good scares.
- THE BAD
- You. Move. Really. Really. Really. Slow.
- Methodical pacing.
- Loads of trial and error gameplay.
If you can appreciate the deliberate pacing, want to slow down and feel the fear, pick up Narcosis.