Somewhere Beyond The Sea
Space may be the final frontier, but the depths of oceans seem to be making a comeback in games. Following on the tails of the release of Subnautica, Debris claims to be akin to the former title with the addition of a ‘psychosis’ mechanic to tantalize and frighten gamers everywhere. As if the ocean floors weren’t frightening enough on their own.
The nice thing about Debris is that, while the game is structured with the intention of a co-op gaming experience, it doesn’t force you into a two-player game. Playing single player does lock you into the character of Ryan, however. When playing with two players you’ll get the choice between Sonya or Ryan, which, while it won’t change up how you play, it will change what you experience in the game.
Regardless of who you are while playing Debris, you are an employee of ALTA, a company that you don’t actually know a whole lot about. Your job is to explore ice caves for the titular debris, which is an energy source that is believed to originate from space and arrive in the form of asteroids on earth. As you play, Ryan will realize that the debris is beginning to do things to the life on the ocean floor, and furthermore, it might be doing something to Ryan too. You’ll have to play the game to see. If you can survive the experience, that is.
We All Live In A Yellow Submarine
Playing as Ryan, your purpose is to more or less follow Sonya around and keep her safe. Sonya is responsible for collecting Debris, which is what powers both your suit and her remote control Squid ROV. Essentially, the more Debris you find, the longer you stay alive.
Sonya is also your only source of light throughout the game, so keeping her in your line of sight is very important. This is easier said than done if she’s controlled through the AI, but when working with a friend things should be easier.
As you search for Debris, you’re also searching for an escape as your trio has been trapped inside of these ice caverns due to a cave in. This kind of ups the ante on things overall, especially as Ryan and Sonya dialogue over whether or not they believe ALTA is trustworthy. Things start to get even more mysterious when Chris enters the conversation via radio, but only Ryan can hear him.
Chris begins to ask questions that only seem to bring rise to further questions, but since Ryan is the only one that can hear Chris, things tend to fall flat. Sonya’s own mood begins to change the further you go, and soon the player may be left feeling as though they can’t trust anyone.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
As I’ve already mentioned, Debris features a co-op experience for those that prefer to brave the dark depths with a friend. Sadly, I am unable to speak on these experiences because I could not get co-op to work. I’m unsure what may have contributed to the issue. I was able to join a friend’s game, and likewise they mine, but beyond that we were unable to actually start one together. This is disappointing because I was genuinely looking forward to finding out out whether co-op added more fun to the experience, but unfortunately this aspect of Debris will remain a mystery in my review.
I’m loathe to admit that this will also damper my score somewhat too.
Hopefully, this issue will be rectified upon the game’s release seeing as this will likely isolate a large portion of the player base.
Is the game still fine enough to play on your own? Of course. Will you want to? Well, that’s really up to you. I personally feel that the game would be more fun with another person if only to break up the repetition and monotony of most of the journey. A second pair of eyes would be equally helpful given how dark the environments tend to be as well.
Under The Sea
In the end, while I enjoyed my time with Debris it’s hard for me to recommend this title to the average gamer. This game will appeal more to the walking simulator players than anything else, mostly because swimming is all you’re doing throughout most of Debris.
The mystery aspect of the game may be slightly more intriguing than the actual game itself, but be prepared, as you’re going to be dedicating a lot of time and work to get to that point in the story. Most puzzles are easy enough, but there were points where I legitimately struggled to progress in this story simply because the combination of visibility and mobility do not work in your favor nine out of ten times.
Then of course, there is the matter of price. This game is going for a solid $20 on Steam right now, which seems a tad too much considering what your experience will amount to throughout Debris.
Moonlight Studios has made something with quality aesthetics and a great story, but I wish they’d implemented some actual gameplay outside of the general swimming and suggestions of horror that Debris manifests. It’s a good start to their career in the field, but I’d hold off unless you’re absolutely dying for something along the walking simulator experience.
Final Verdict: 3 / 5
Available on: PC; Publisher: Moonray Studios ; Developer: Moonray Studios; Players: 1-2 ; Released: Oct 23rd, 2017 ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review copy of Debris given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.