Dark Ocean - Free Survival Horror

Here is a decently-made, albeit short, third person survival horror game by the name of Dark Ocean. Entered into the 14th Annual IGF, the developers from Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona have released it as free for the masses.

The game is set on a ship with the standard zombie-apocalypse virus rampant and you as the protagonist, somehow completely immune. The level design is sparse and illogical in places, with the obligatory one foot high debris that cannot be traversed but occasionally shows merit such as the clearly Bioshock-inspired casino area. Models go from middling to amateur, characters and zombies being the most atrocious, but since most of the game is shrouded in darkness you have to look for it.

The gameplay design is the most redeeming part of the production, but implemented poorly. The main weapons are a flairgun, a squirtgun filled with gasoline and a camera, the value of first two should be obvious and the camera is to temporarily blind your attackers so you can run past. While good in theory, the control, movement and animation is so clumsy that it becomes more tedious than fun.

While short, it supports a checkpoint save system for the current game only - no load game feature. The resolution can only be changed through a config file, giving you higher in-game graphics but the menus do not adjust accordingly. A map is available but completely unnecessary at this point in the development - I say this point as the game states that more is to come.

Dark Ocean is a good effort but needs more polish, especially in the control area. It's hard to say if the series will continue, being a school project and all, but at the credits I was willing to continue on to the next chapter.

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