(OSV News) — People often use the phrase “drowning in grief” to describe an experience of profound loss. “Under the Waves” (Quantic Dream) makes that phrase come alive by placing an acutely bereaved character in the depths of the ocean.
The result is a poignant and picturesque gaming experience, though one too potentially upsetting to be recommended for youngsters. Besides its mature themes, moreover, this adventure’s dialogue occasionally strays into vulgarity.
Professional diver Stan (voice of Ben Lambert) works for an oil conglomerate called UniTrench while grappling with a monumental personal tragedy. How he copes with his pain affects his course of action throughout the gameplay and ultimately determines which of two alternative endings to it will be unlocked.
Players explore the seabed either by free diving with Stan’s equipment or by using a submersible. There are certain daily objectives they must fulfill, yet they are also given plenty of free time to explore his beautiful, watery world.
As Stan collects metal, algae, coal and other resources – as well as plastic waste – he’s enabled to craft blueprints for daily necessities such as repair kits or oxygen tubes. These supplies have to be carefully managed because running out of air or damaging the submersible too severely can result in Stan’s demise.
Stan’s interior devastation is mirrored in his underwater environment, the natural beauty of which is grievously scarred by man-made damage. Thus it’s difficult to swim far without coming across dumped trash and wrecks from different points in history. There’s even a World War II-era minefield over which schools of small fish as well as blue sharks swim peacefully.
But it’s the effects of underwater mining and seaborne transportation that prove especially striking to gamers. Drills leak oil into coral reefs while massive shipping containers fall overboard and are left to decay.
Profits from ‘Under the Waves’ being donated for marine conservation
Publishers Quantic Dream have partnered with the European division of the Surfrider Foundation, a real-world nonprofit dedicated to marine conservation. As a result, a portion of the company’s profits from “Under the Waves” is being donated to further the foundation’s mission.
Hauntingly beautiful music accompanies Stan’s activities. Combined with the forceful storytelling at work in the narrative and the compelling visuals that surround Stan, this masterful score will leave players feeling glad they took the plunge.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Windows.
The game contains some non-combat violence and intermittent rough and crude language. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.
– – –
Adele Chapline Smith reviews video games for OSV News.