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Feature

Five Games To Keep You Out Of The Ocean This Summer

by AJ Moser on Jul 11, 2016 at 08:12 AM

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When Steven Spielberg’s Jaws hit movie theaters in the summer of 1975, it made a great deal of people terrified to go into the water. If just seeing the horrors of the deep portrayed on screen could shock people away from the beach, imagine what exploring the sea floor and interacting with these creatures could do. Games have always provided us with a way to explore fantasy worlds, but sometimes they can allow the exploration of parts of our own planet we would never see otherwise. Here are a few games that portray the ocean as the terrifying, mysterious place it is rather than an idyllic summer-hangout spot.


ARK: Survival Evolved

Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac

ARK: Survival Evolved is an early access game that lets players team up and form a tribe of explorers on an island inhabited by a wide array of prehistoric creatures. Eventually, players will be able to start charting the game’s vast oceans. While spelunking in claustrophobic underwater caves, players can come face to face with the monsters that hide beneath the surface. The Megalodon resembles an oversized great-white shark, covered in scars and prone to attack from a distance. This beast usually stays in the deep, but if a player swims too far away from the surface, the Megalodon will charge from off-screen and can even bring some aggressive backup.

The true terror hiding in ARK’s oceans is the Mosasaurs, a 50-foot-long underwater lizard that makes its home at the bottom of the sea. It is one of the hardest enemies to fight in the game, with high health and great resistance to most of the player’s best weapons. If a player manages to tame one, a float can be constructed on the creature’s back that essentially functions as a mobile aquatic base. Fighting a Mosasaurs usually requires a full tribe of teammates working together to whittle down the beast’s health. Exploring the depths of the ocean in ARK: Survival Evolved is an invitation for some of these massive enemies to sneak up on you in the darkness.


Depth

Available for PC

Putting a unique spin on asymmetric multiplayer, this game pits a team of divers against predatory sharks. Depth features a dynamic lighting system that casts shadows on the ocean floor and cave walls to alert players of an impending threat. Atmospheric tension plays a huge part in these multiplayer matches as paying attention to sound is crucial in staying one step ahead of the opponent. Often, a pulsing heartbeat or sudden shift can help keep the divers alive. The sharks move at incredible speed, meaning players must rely on clever planning, quick reactions, and team cooperation if they are going to survive.

Goals for the divers in these tense matches include finding undersea treasure as well as upgrading their weapons in order to better defend themselves against the sharks. A variety of weapons can be used in defense, from spear guns to explosives. Attacks come quickly and without warning so players will need to get familiar with wrestling out of the jaws of a great white. Depth’s shark attacks are almost painfully realistic, and the heart-racing multiplayer matches can just as easily chomp through friendships.


Sunless Sea

Available for PC, Mac

Sunless Sea is one of the most distinct games on this list, as it takes place almost exclusively above the dark and murky waters. You assume the role of a steamboat captain who sets out with his crew following an ambitious mission. As you explore the expansive ocean, a slow descent into madness begins. Storytelling in Sunless Sea is a complex affair, as it spans generations and follows numerous crew members losing their lives to the open sea. Much of the gameplay focuses on slowly moving your vessel around increasingly mystifying locales, fighting off a creeping sense of loneliness as you discover ancient secrets.

Players are put directly in direct command of a growing cast of sailors and officers in Sunless Sea. Who you get attached to depends on how you play the game and what resources and tasks you assign to individual units. The outcome almost always results in a tragic and brutal death, hammering home the message that the ocean is a dangerous place. Sunless Sea is a unique tale that harkens back to old-timey sailor’s tales of going mad at sea and stumbling upon Lovecraftian otherworldly horrors in search of treasure and fame.


SOMA

Available for PlayStation 4, PC, Mac

This atmospheric horror game from the creators of the viral sensation, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, has more in common with BioShock than the Victorian inspirations of its previous game. Soma features the same first-person perspective, based around puzzling gameplay and psychologically gripping enemy encounters. Soma doesn’t rely on sharks and sea monsters for its scares, but rather tells an intimate tale of humanity lost thousands of miles beneath the rest of civilization. Unraveling the mystery of Soma’s underwater facilities is an engaging and emotional experience that relies on its isolated setting on the ocean floor.

Multiple segments of the game require the player to travel between underwater locales, and the moment you step outside of your enclosed environment is awe-inspiring. As the ocean opens up before you, it’s hard to not admire the sheer scale of the sweeping vistas. You spend a lot of time suspended in the dark water during Soma, and the excellent sound design will make you paranoid of what might be creeping around in the shadows and lurking below nearby drop-offs. Soma is best experienced in a dark room with great sound quality, to fully capture the significant size of the sea floor.


Stranded Deep

Available for PC, Mac

A survival game in the purest sense, Stranded Deep finds players as the sole survivor of a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll need to rely on harvesting an amount of limited resources to craft the necessary tools for survival. Stranded Deep gives a great sense of hopelessness and isolation as each survivor will be able to tell unique stories about their journey to strap together tools, a hut, and even a fully functional raft. The ocean is the true opponent in the game, a stretch of blue that taunts the player with dreams of escaping their island refuge.

Exploring the ocean presents the player with an even more arduous task than before, as procedurally generated islands and reefs tease you with their secrets. Out on the open water, players will be stalked by sharks and can even discover abandoned shipwrecks. Stranded Deep’s best moments come in creating a realistic setting where players need to rely on their wits to outsmart the environment itself. The beating sun, threatening waves, shifting weather, and impending night all need to be taken into account when making a plan for survival. Being cast away on a tropical island and slowly starving to death may not sound like an exciting experience, but Stranded Deep lets you test your best plans to conquer the ocean from the comfort of your own home.

What do you think of our list? What games have given you the most frightening underwater experiences? Sound off in the comments below!