“Diluvion” Review – Sink Into a Casual RPG

“Diluvion” surprised me.  With it selling on Steam for a relatively reasonable price and it being in the seldom seen underwater / submarine genre, I was a bit guarded going into it.  I enjoyed the “Aquanox” titles from the early 2000’s, and I have always been a fan of space simulators (Internet fist bump to “Freelancer” fans). I’d say I was cautiously optimistic with this one.

Jumping into the game, I decided to watch the opening cinematic.  Typically I skip these, because I’m eager to play the game because and can’t be bothered with things like storyline or context.  What impressed me the most about the intro (as well as the rest of the game) was the high quality music that accompanied it.  I later discovered on the game’s store page that you can purchase the soundtrack for an additional $6 which is a nice option.

Moving past the intro, I found myself at the typical character building area where you choose a name and a ship type.  You have a choice of 3 different ships, each with their strengths and weaknesses.  I typically agonize over this choice but eventually chose the one made for trade.  I have always been the sort that loves to exploit trade and the economy in games to rise to the top financially, so I figured this was the best route for me.  Later, after an hour or so of gameplay, I changed my mind and went with the combat model.  This turned out to be my favorite.  I’d encourage you to start a few new games early on and play each ship to determine which fits your style of play the best.

After picking a name and choosing a ship, you’re immediately thrust into the depths (pun intended) of the game.  My first frustration was the controls.  You have two choices: simulation or arcade.  Being a space sim veteran, I chose simulation, but later abandoned this for arcade.  Controlling a submarine is different than a spaceship for obvious reasons, and I think my frustration was just getting used to the movement capabilities of a submarine.  You can move forward and back, turn in any direction, and of course [strafe] up and down as a normal submarine would using it’s ballasts.  I would encourage you to start the game out on arcade mode and then experiment with simulation mode for the best initial experience.

I was impressed with the world detail and scenery.  This didn’t have that cheap game smell that I was half expecting.  The bulk of the game consists of exploring regions with your submarine, fighting pirates, exploding mines, looting underwater wrecks, docking with stations to gather supplies, and of course selling the loot you’ve gathered.  This gameplay formula for open world sandbox RPG type games seems to be a magic combination for fun, whether it be in space or under the sea, and Arachnid Games was right on the mark.

When docking with stations or wrecks you are given a 2D picture of the interior of the station. These look somewhat like the paper animation of South Park, but have the art style of games like “Don’t Starve” and “World of Goo”.  Seeing this, I was a little underwhelmed.  It gave me the sense that they had spent much more attention on polishing the rest of the game rather than the experience while docked.  This wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it was definitely notable.

Over the course of 1-2 weeks, I played the game in my spare time and admittedly enjoyed my time.  Combat with other ships was fun and satisfying.  The RPG mechanics of upgrading your ship and looting new equipment were adequate but could stand to be fleshed out slightly more for added interest.  The storyline was intriguing but not quite as deep (another shameless pun) as some AAA RPG titles.   And, of course, some gameplay aspects could be improved, but they don’t seriously detract from the rest of the game.  All in all, I’d say that given its current price, you’re getting good value with this game. If you’re a fan of open world RPG space simulators, you’ll enjoy the underwater variation as well.  It’s a good casual RPG you’ll enjoy playing but not enough to provoke “wife aggro” for never putting it down.  A good balance.