Anoxemia is the scientific term for lack of oxygen. Makes sense, since Anoxemia the game has players constantly looking for oxygen. That’s the main draw to the new indie game just released for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. While I didn’t mind it too much at the beginning, after progressing some, I found it to be a simple yet frustrating endeavor that made me question why I just didn’t drown.
The game has diver, Dr. Bailey, marooned on the bottom of an ocean floor after his sub crashes. His mission was to collect samples of plant life. He must finish this mission at all costs so he, along with his drone, must navigate the perilous ocean in search of all the plant samples.
Platforms: PC, PS4, XB1
Price I’d pay: Maybe $2
Players actually control the drone rather than Dr. Bailey himself. Bailey will follow the drone where it goes due to it being the only real light source, as well as what can possibly protect him to the upcoming dangers.
The game is part exploration, part puzzle game. The drone can get upgrades that help solve physical puzzles like a tether that can grab boulders or give Bailey a speed boost to get out of the way of automotive mine turrets. It’s more of a slower paced game where exploration using the drone’s radar ping to show where points of interest are as well as the locations of the plants will guide the player to their destinations. Finding all the plants in a given area will progress to the next level of the game. That’s the main goal.
Survival is the name of the game. Bailey will constantly be using up oxygen, which has to be restored. This can be done by finding oxygen tanks spread throughout the ocean floor and in containers that can be opened. If he runs out of oxygen, he dies. That’s something that players don’t want. Trust me, I get to that a bit later.
If Bailey gets hit even once from a mine, falling rock, or any other hazard, he will die. Since players aren’t actually controlling Bailey, it can become a bit frustrating when Bailey isn’t hustling to the drone that is out of the way of the hazards. Even then, he will take the fastest path to the drone rather than the path the drone took so he may end up hitting a hazard trying to get to the drone.
Now, that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that eventually, levels begin to get longer and more complex. That’s all well and good, but let’s say I need only one plant left to end the level. I then get hit and die. Well, I better have liked that level because I’m doing it all again. Yes, no checkpoints. After doing a level about three times, I ended up not wanting to do the level at all, and ended up quitting the game for a few hours. Like I said, it’s not a big deal at the beginning, but when the levels take me around four minutes to complete, it starts to get annoying doing the exact same thing again. Especially when I’m not controlling the thing that can die and make me restart.
The art style is interesting, but nothing to write home about. It has a dark, shadowy look to it, where all characters and things around look a bit like silhouettes on a lighter background. It’s decent, but due to the animations looking clunky most times, it looks more like paper cut out.
In the end, Anoxemia is a decent game with a really bad mechanic. Or rather, missing a big mechanic. A checkpoint here or there wouldn’t break the game, but at the same time, it would have made that game pretty short. I see why they did it, but that doesn’t stop the game from getting frustrating quick due to both restarting levels as well as not being able to actually control the one thing that can die and force me to start over. It’s a budget title, but even then, I would suggest either a price drop or an avoidance altogether.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.