Narcosis is a first person "survival horror" developed and published by Honor Code Inc. Narcosis is made for the Oculus Rift, but it's also available on PC and Xbox One. Ever wonder what it would feel like to get trapped underwater in a one ton diving suit? That's the basically the full set up of Narcosis. The game is more of a psychological game where you feel the effects of the main character's claustrophobia and feeling of isolation than it is a survival horror. The main character will start to hallucinate horrific images and events as his sanity starts to break. If you're in the game for the story, Narcosis really delivers with overall atmosphere and plot.
After finishing up your training to get players familiar with the controls of the game, you are in the middle of a diving mission and suddenly a shockwave tears up the underwater space station and really messes up the day for your crew. You awaken to total isolation. In Narcosis, it's basically just you, your one ton diving suit and the surrounding flora and fauna of the deep. The main enemies in Narcosis are sea animals that you'll run into frequently. You'll run into several cuttlefish, angler fish and spider crabs. For the most part, you want to avoid enemies. Cuttlefish and angler fish can be driven away and killed with your knife but the spider crab must be avoided or stunned with flares since it is an instant kill enemy.
You start out armed with a knife and flares. Flares can be used to illuminate areas or stun spider crabs. You'll find several flare pickups and also oxygen pickups throughout your journey. Players will have to constantly search for oxygen tanks or tank refills so the fear of running out of oxygen is always a factor. For movement, you have your extremely slow walk and you can also activate air thrusters on the back of your diving suit. The thrusters not only make you move faster, but they will also allow you to person slight jumps from platform to platform.
The majority of the game is spent walking through underwater areas or sea stations while performing certain objectives in order to progress. Every now and then you'll have to find keycards, turn on the power to some mechanism or solve a minor puzzle in order to progress. While exploring, you'll find dead bodies or your character will see something that might increase his oxygen intake and cause him to hallucinate. The idea of hallucination is pretty nice, but the game doesn't always do hallucinations so well. You'll find a few jump scares here and there as a cause of your hallucinations but I have never before seen a game with such obvious jump scares. For instance, you might go into a room and suddenly the way ahead becomes blocked and you know something is going to happen when you turn around and then you turn to a slight jump scare isn't even scary. The jump scares feel very wasted in Narcosis overall.
The game clocks in at around 4-5 hours of play. The overall gameplay is very mediocre and repetitive, but the story to the game is quite good. You have to see the game through to the end to get the most out of the story since it has one heck of a twist for its finale and one that actually makes me want to play the game again just to experience the story again. Narcosis has a few collectibles that you'll find in each stage - personal belongings of crew members - that give you information on the associated crew member, so there is a bit of replay value in collecting all of the collectibles. Once you beat the game, you unlock the full interview that plays at the game progress, which is kind of cool if you just want to listen to the game's main plot since it's nearly all told through dialogue. The game's spoken dialogue is very well voiced and was the main driving factor in completing the game on my first time through. If you stick with the game, you will feel rewarded in the end, but it's so easy to get bored with the repetitive gameplay and give up. Narcosis is a very interesting game to pick up if you just want a good story, but those that want some fun gameplay to go along with the story should look elsewhere.
+ Great story
+ Voice acting is good
+ The claustrophobic feeling and isolation feel is well displayed in the game
- Gameplay is mediocre
- The game totally fails at jump scares
Final Rating: 70% - If you're in the search for a good psychological story then Narcosis might be a good pickup for you, but the gameplay in between is rather boring.