“Pilot a tiny submersible on a job to retrieve organic material from a sunken navy [submarine]. Follow the coordinates, use [the sonar] and hope you [do not] run into anything on the way.”
Even if the weather is good and nothing clouds the view, the creeps can come over you when you take a single look at the sea. Although only the gently moving waves interrupt the silence, they stir our fear of what cannot be seen. The unknown thus takes shape and an irrational defense mechanism is activated: We have to protect ourselves from the perhaps non-existent, but at the same time unpredictable danger. We feel tense, maybe even slightly paranoid. At least that is how I would describe my emotional state after playing through “CorpseOcean”.
In this fantastically atmospheric jam game, players are ordered to heave barrels filled with a mysterious material out of the shallows of the Atlantic Ocean and collect them. This is done in the first-person perspective, where you control a small underwater vehicle. Fortunately, finding the barrels does not depend on chance, since the headquarters will give you the exact coordinates after each successful find. However, each new quest will require you to dive deeper and deeper. The more you venture out into the darkness, the more likely it is that curious things will begin to happen. But they are certainly just fleeting hallucinations, right?
With this basic concept, “CorpseOcean” is similar to the underwater horror mining game “Oceanwork”, which we highly recommended in May of this year, among other Ludum Dare 48 submissions. Both titles largely avoid jumpscares and exaggerated depictions of violence or gore, instead letting the suspense develop with a well-considered dramaturgy based on the players’ desire to explore. In “Oceanwork”, though, you first had to earn a lot of money for upgrades by mining ores, so that you could advance to the interesting areas. This required up-front effort, along with the associated ‘grinding’, greatly slowed down the atmospheric unfolding in the beginning (although the climax that occurs later is still very worthwhile).
In “CorpseOcean” you will not find such distracting gameplay elements. There, only the bottom of the Atlantic awaits you. [PLAY]