Narcosis plunges the player deep into ocean making great use of its setting to unnerve and terrify. Though the experience is short, clocking in at around three hours, it is an undeniably powerful and effective one. The length also prevents Narcosis from outstaying its welcome.
reality bends and twists around the player in some very unsettling ways
Under the Sea
In Narcosis the player takes on the role of a deep sea diver who is caught in an earthquake. The player must then make their way through a ruined undersea installation while reality bends and twists around them in some very unsettling ways. The horror in Narcosis combines jump scares, as well as more abstract horror as the environment twists and changes, reflecting the player character’s increasingly fragile mental state.
The constant need to replenish the oxygen makes for some very suspenseful moments
Walking simulator plus
The gameplay is straightforward; you navigate through the installation in your heavy deep diving suit looking to escape and collecting O2 tanks to ensure you can keep breathing. When the player encounters especially stressful situations the oxygen intake increases and the gauge runs down faster. The constant need to replenish the oxygen makes for some very suspenseful moments. Narcosis does a great job of communicating exactly how heavy and cumbersome the suit is and it really adds to a feeling of claustrophobia. Your HUD is contained within your helmet and it’s there you can check your oxygen gauge, how many flares you have left, as well as how much thrust power you have available.
The helmet cuts off the player’s field of view; this increases the tension as you slowly turn around to see how things might have changed behind you, usually for the worse. Aside from the psychological terrors, the player also has to contend with the creatures of the deep. The only means of defence available to the player is a diving knife. Your movements are sluggish and you always feel vulnerable.
It elevates itself above other walking simulators with its taut atmosphere
Sound and Graphics
The atmosphere in Narcosis is buoyed by stellar sound design and excellent lighting. The dialogue is all inner monologue and it is excellently written and acted. The sound design gives you a great sense of how deep you are beneath the ocean and the immense pressure of the water all adding to the player’s feeling of fragility. The lighting in Narcosis is particularly atmospheric. The player is supplied with up to ten flares; these serve the dual purposes of assisting with pathfinding and distracting the creatures of the deep.
Perhaps a little too expensive
While admittedly Narcosis is an extremely brief experience it will leave an impression. It elevates itself above other walking simulators with its taut atmosphere being wonderfully sustained by its interesting mix of gameplay, story and atmosphere. Narcosis is VR enabled, but this reviewer played it without a VR headset. It is probable that your experience may be enhanced with VR but Narcosis is still a worthwhile experience without it. All of the various aspects of this review are positive, but Narcosis is a very short game and I would question if it is worth the current asking price. Waiting for a sale would be the best advice for people interested in giving Narcosis a go.