Released March 27th 2017 to the Playstation 4; Anoxemia is a story-driven exploration and survival game that puts players in control of Dr. Bailey. A marine biologist embarking on a seemingly simple mission, Bailey is tasked to submerge and gather samples of various aquatic flora from a contaminated zone near an old underwater naval base. However, as Bailey narrates, the mission goes awry right from the beginning. Shortly after losing contact with the surface, Bailey’s submarine crashes into the ocean floor, forcing him to abandon the craft and swim through the dark depths in his advanced diving suit and accompanied by the AI operations drone ATMA to light the way.
Dr. Bailey decides to complete his mission, but it has now also become a matter of survival as his oxygen levels steadily decline with every fathom deeper he delves. As well as gathering samples from the ocean floor and various underwater caverns, Bailey and ATMA must also find oxygen tanks to prolong their journey and scavenge sunken supply crates for energy and upgrades to the suit and drone systems. New dangers lurk around every corner in the form of old sea mines and EMP charges, as well as forgotten deep sea defences in the form of malfunctioning drones and turrets. Utilising the sonar and growing weapon capabilities of ATMA, Dr. Bailey must explore and gather all samples from each level to continue to the next.
Though simplistic in nature; Anoxemia isn’t too far removed from the classic dungeon crawler, the dark depths only made visible by ATMA create a fairly immersive atmosphere of claustrophobia and danger. The use of sonar makes incoming enemies known however there is no telling just how close the nearest threat is, it also provides a fairly easy mode of navigation so that the somewhat bland environments don’t become too tedious as the player perseveres. The survival element of this game is a nice touch, however it could have been implemented in a more threatening way as there’s no real danger of actually running out of oxygen or power. Oxygen tanks and batteries are quite generously dispersed throughout each level and they’re extremely easy to find and gather.
The UI is somewhat sluggish, as players actually control the drone ATMA and lead Dr. Bailey through the levels and around the various threats. You may find Bailey doesn’t quite skirt around an enemy the way you wanted, or he may become stuck in a crevice and force you to go back just to get him out again. Suffice it to say, this game is a little rough around the edges. This game has little use for replay value, however getting to the end for the first time does become a chore as the game can become quite tedious past the tutorial levels. As a Playstation 4 port, it seems a little pointless; the control interface is clearly oriented towards a PC point-n-click adventure and there’s little effort to change that in favour of the console gamepad. Despite its drawbacks, there’s a sense of challenge and survival and as a quick bit of fun for the price tag it’s worth a play.
So, the verdict? Take the darkness and atmosphere of Limbo, draw some of the creativity out of it and badly port it onto Miniclip.com and you’ve pretty much got Anoxemia. It makes no efforts to break the mould or push the envelope but it also makes no promises to do so, a forgettable title to while away a few hours. The premise has potential to be improved upon, but for now it’s simply just another okay indie title finding little love in the PSN archives.