Title: Iron Fish
Available On: PC
Developer: BeefJack, Dean Edwards
Publisher: Meat Name Games Ltd
Genre: Adventure, Horror
Official Site: Iron Fish
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Where to Buy It: Steam
No one would argue that the deepest depths of the ocean are one of the scariest and most mysterious places on our planet. The fear of the unknown combined with the chilling, compressive darkness of the deep ocean provides a perfect environment for a psychological horror experience. With such a terrifying environment at the ready, I had really high hopes for what the developers of Iron Fish would add to the mix. Unfortunately, the game still needs a lot of TLC to work up to the potential of the story and environment.
In Dean Edward’s Iron Fish, you play as Cerys, a British deep sea investigator following in her father’s footsteps. When a distress call is heard, Cerys sets off to answer armed with only her submarine. In doing so, she finds way more than she was originally planning. When the crew is discovered dead, a bigger mystery is revealed. Cerys must survive the harsh unknown to discover the long forgotten secrets and creatures of the ocean floor. She just might learn the secrets of her past as well.
If you are looking for a fast-paced adventure title, this is not the game for you. Though the game is categorized as an adventure title, there isn’t a whole lot of action. Basically, the game is a walking simulator set underwater, and you will spend lots of time getting from one point to the other. Most of the “gameplay” is moving from one spot to the other for fetch quest after fetch quest. The game does a fabulous job of making you feel very small in such a large setting, but your modes of transportation are just ridiculously to slow for all the possible space you have to cover. Trying to swim from one location to the other can be painstakingly slow work, and the “high tech” machinery you’re given isn’t much faster.
Once you make it to said location, you will then spend way to much time wandering around trying to find your objective. The mission trackers are not very precise, and the game definitely doesn’t hold your hand. You are totally on your own most of the time, and your quests can be super obscure. While I totally respect the notion of letting gamers fend for themselves, the world they’ve created is just too big for such little assistance. What makes it even more frustrating is the fact that most of the time you are unable to look at your objectives location on a map and move at the same time. You are constantly pausing while traveling to check marker locations, and it just adds on to the already slow travel time. Your oxygen meter also doesn’t help the pacing of the game. For how much time you have to spend outside of the sub, your oxygen meter depletes pretty quickly and death is immediate once you’ve run out of air.
I will warn you now; the game is pretty buggy. The developer has set up a Steam forum where people can point out bugs, and the game received a massive update right before my review. However, if you’re going to be selling a title for $20, it should work. A glitch actually kept me from being able to beat the game; and despite a few hours of trying to work my way around it, it just wasn’t happening. When my gameplay was affected, I took to YouTube to see if anyone had run into the same problem. However, I discovered that my game was worse off than I originally expected. Whole bits of dialogue and events I saw in the videos never occurred in my own game. I actually thought the plot was something else due to this lack of information in my own playthrough.
I could have forgiven some of these other mishaps if the game was pretty to look at. In Insomniac’s Song of the Deep, the underwater graphics are beautiful and you actually feel the fluidity of everything’s movement. Unfortunately, in Iron Fish, the graphics are pretty murky, and it’s not just the water. Being underwater, you would expect to see plants and other things floating around you, yet everything was pretty stagnant. Plants stood completely still, and the fish moved robotically, following a track, rather than moving fluidly. A huge threat in the game is sharks, and you are warned to stay close to walls and the ocean floor to prevent their attacks. After swimming through quite a bit of open water, I began to wonder if the sharks could even attack me. So I tested it. A, it took forever for the sharks to react to my presence, and B, if I wasn’t in the shark’s immediate track when they did start attacking, I was pretty much safe. Along with terrible frame rate issues, the graphics were pretty disappointing overall
While the game has its issues, there’s one thing they definitely have right: the atmosphere. While playing through the game, I was pretty tense and constantly looking around for danger. I definitely jumped a handful of times, and the game does catch you by surprise in certain areas. As I’ve mentioned before, Iron Fish does a great job of reminding you of your vulnerability and just how little you know about the deeper parts of the ocean. The creatures they’ve created are pretty unique and scary, but you don’t see very much of them. For a good majority of the game, sharks are your biggest worry and we’ve already covered that…
I had high hopes for Iron Fish; but at the moment, it just doesn’t deliver, especially for the price point. This is a title that would really benefit from a little extra polish and TLC. The hard part of a horror game is the environment and story, which this title has. However, the other factors are just too clunky and frustrating, and they totally remove you from the experience. As the developer continues to fix Iron Fish, I hope that someday it will live up to its potential.
- Gameplay: Pretty non-existent. Basically a slow, boring walking simulator with poor, confusing controls.
- Graphics: Murky. While the design of the “scary” creatures was unique; basic fish and plant life were robotic and stagnant.
- Sound: Mostly bubble-y type noises with some random music thrown in. The voice acting was pretty repetitive and majorly lacked in reactions to what was happening around you.
- Presentation: The story is interesting, but just has too many problems stacked up against it.
- Good atmosphere
- Unique Creatures
- Lots of potential
- Poor Controls
- Murky graphics
- Confusing Quest System
- Lack of Gameplay
- General Bugginess