Available On: PC and MAC
Publisher: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Developer: Arachnid Games
Genre: RPG, Indie, Adventure
Official Site: Here
Release Date: February 2, 2017
Where To Buy It: Steam or GOG.com ($19.99)
A journey into the unknown is always exciting. Yet, when playing a video game, the excitement of that journey can be brought down by factors uncontrollable by the player. In Diluvion, the journey into its steampunk, underwater world has moments where the player feels as submerged as the world they’re exploring. That’s not really a good thing, in this case. Instead, it’s more of the sinking feeling one gets when they’re disappointed. That’s how I felt playing Diluvion. Although the world in which Arachnid Games created for you is full of tough enemies, beautiful visuals, a fitting soundtrack, and a decent storyline, the game is weighed down by an anchor of unfortunate flaws.
Players start the game by choosing a submarine to begin their journey. They are given three choices: one sub which is faster and less powerful, one which is a balanced combination, and one which is more powerful than it is fast. This sort of decision sets players up for the kind of genre that Diluvion can be pinned under: an RPG. Throughout the game, there are elements that can only be described as RPG. Players have a map to search through to find their objectives, they have the ability to upgrade their submarine, they can hire crew members, assign their crew into roles that best suit them, buy and sell goods, and are expected to survive the depths with the inventory they lay out for themselves. That’s why Diluvion is not only an RPG but also a survival game. If you’ve ever played any of the Dark Souls franchise, then you can understand what I’m talking about.
Like Dark Souls, enemies are constantly respawning, except there’s no set place where they respawn. I both liked and didn’t like this about the game. The fact that there’s always a randomness to where enemies can be hiding makes survival unpredictable, and that’s exciting. On the other hand, this unpredictability can be quite frustrating. For example, when I was in a “town” area trying to dock so that I could get to the next mission or buy essential materials, I’d never know if a pirate would attack me as I docked. This being because they could spawn almost out of nowhere. I’d then be forced to undock, kill the pirate(s), and dock again to continue what I was doing. In this way, there’s no way a player can really strategize when exploring the map. If you run into an enemy, then, well, you have to deal with it.
The survival elements of Diluvion are pretty simple to understand. If you run out of resources, then your chances of survival dwindle. Players are expected to maintain food and air for their crew (air refilling automatically once you dock with any dockable location), and if they run out of either then crew members will either leave the ship or die. The issue I had with this was that the game didn’t punish me for running out of air unless I went on without it for an extended period of time. I would have liked if the game punished me as soon as I ran out of air, that way I would be forced to be frugal with my money so that I could afford more air tanks. Yet, if you run out of ammo in the middle of a fight, then you’re going to end up scuttled. That means you must prepare your ship every time you leave a station with a merchant at it. Buy as much ammo and food as you can, that way you don’t run out while exploring or fighting. But, even if you do die, nothing serious happens except that you have to start over from the last checkpoint. Unfortunately, it’s more time consuming, and less difficult, to get back to where you left off.
But my issues with the game don’t stop there. You’re probably wondering: it can’t all be that bad, can it? No, it’s not…there are some redeeming factors I’ll explore a bit later. But let’s finish up with the negatives first. The next flaw that I had a problem with was the controls. I found that playing the game with a keyboard and mouse can get frustrating to handle, especially when in combat. Specifically, against the Drone enemies. I then found that when I plugged in PC compatible controller, my submarine got a lot easier to maneuver with. I think that Diluvion should’ve made the controls just as easy to handle for the keyboard and mouse as it did with the controller. Not every PC gamer has a controller that they can use with their computer, nor would most use it if they did. A game made specifically for the PC or MAC needs to cater to what these systems require; that means a control system that works better for the keyboard and mouse compared to the controller, not vice versa.
The last issue I had was the consistent drops of FPS seen throughout the game. Diluvion isn’t a very graphically demanding game, so it’s a little frustrating to see the game bounce from 30 to 40 to 60 and then back down to 30 FPS at random intervals within the game. There are also issues with viewing the maps, specifically the one for The Abyss. I wasn’t able to view the area’s full map, as it cut off at a certain point. These aren’t big problems, but they should still be addressed in future patches.
As mentioned above, Diluvion isn’t a game with the best graphics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome. The visuals and environments seen throughout the game are beautiful, and, not to mention, perfectly suited for the steampunk vibe that the game gives off. Colors bounce through the water as they should, bubbles rise in the water as your submarine rises or sinks, and players have the “luxury” of not being able to see when deep underwater. This darkness provides you with an eerie feeling every time you choose to sink to the ocean floor. I found myself diving to certain areas just to get a better look at the fine art the creators put into the game, so that’s definitely a plus.
I think the best part of Diluvion has to be the original soundtrack. The music was perfect. It’s not like it changed that much throughout the course of the game, but it was so well-done that I didn’t care. Every sound, song, and piece of music that was used–whether it be for entering a town or station, or being spotted by an enemy–was just as perfectly suited to the steampunk environment as the visuals were.
If you were having doubts about playing Diluvion based on my previously mentioned negative comments, then put those aside and play it for the way it presents itself visually and musically. Yes, the game requires patience and a little bit of anger management at times. But what it lacks in certain areas, it almost makes up for with not just great artwork and music, but also a somewhat decent plot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a mindblowing story that’ll keep you wanting to play until you beat it; but it’s engaging where it counts (I won’t spoil anything). The story did feel rushed, which I’m sure was because of the smaller budget the developers had to create the game. That’s why I can’t hold it against them. Regardless, there’s still something worth looking at, so fill your air tanks and take a dive into the fantastical world of Diluvion–as flawed as it may be.
- Gameplay: Requires patience and is frustrating at times, especially when playing with a keyboard and mouse.
- Graphics: A satisfying blend of steampunk and beautiful artwork make the graphics one of the best aspects of the game.
- Sound: Perfectly suited for the underwater environment in which the game takes place.
- Presentation: Although Diluvion has a cool soundtrack and beautiful artwork, there’s still too much frustration and patience to be expended on certain elements of a game of this size.
- Beautifully crafted artwork
- Well-suited soundtrack
- Technical issues
- Unsatisfying survival mechanics
- Frustrating control system for the keyboard and mouse
Most of the time he spends writing, reading (anything from comics to classic literature), playing video games, and wondering when the next Elder Scrolls title will be released. Hopefully soon…