Anoxemia is an underwater adventure game, where players take on the role of scientist Dr. Bailey and his operations drone, ATMA, and are tasked with extracting samples from deep under water with the risk of running out of oxygen ever present. Should you take the plunge into Anoxemia? Read our review below…
First off, Anoxemia does something that not all that many games do these days, aside from Song of the Deep and Abzu. Which is to venture to the murky depths on the sea floor, but without the beautifully created colours that these games focused on. In Anoxemia, the main colour you will see a lot of is black. This colour forms the boundaries of your exploration, with the other noticeable colour being several shades of blue. A simple art style lends itself to the surroundings, hinting at an equally simple gameplay mechanic. This quickly proves to be true.
What surprised me at first was the controls. I was unsure of what was causing the delay between movement of my analog stick and my little man on screen reacting. As it soon transpired, I was actually in control of the drone, and not our intrepid explorer. It did take some time to become attuned with how it played, but soon enough I was able to navigate the levels. Speaking of levels, they are very short at the start and you will advance quickly, and they do become longer as you progress. This progression is made possible by collecting plant life. Yes, that’s correct, plants. You see, it’s a part of the mission, which he will periodically inform you of, and boy is he determined to complete his mission.
A lot of the time you will be required to use your sonar to detect potential threats, which show a red circle around mines proximity sensors. A neat little touch, along with a display for your oxygen levels and drone power. So make sure to pick up supplies that have been carelessly scattered around, raising questions from our deep sea diving friend. The further you advance, the more that will be uncovered, but the game does suffer from a slow start.
During my playthrough, I encountered a mystery involving a sunken submarine, and a conspiracy of sorts. Not to mention approaching that 4th wall. I won’t spoil this moment, in case you wish to discover this yourself. It doesn’t break it, so much as caress it gently, teasing you. As for the game as a product, it doesn’t break any new boundaries, and the controls just feel awkward as you clumsily die, and flounder your way through each and every level, whilst aiming to avoid the dangers of pressure sensitive mines, guns and a mysterious submersible that stalks you. The narrative is delivered via a voice actor, who does a good job and is convincing enough to not let the game down.