mon 08/08/2022

The Drowning | reviews, news & interviews

The Drowning

The Drowning

Not waving but... well, you know

'The Drowning' - zombies and oil. Possibly some kind of metaphor.

Hardcore First Person Shooter (FPS) fans have their own preferences for controlling their favourite 3D action games. This usually boils down to the little/big-endian dichotomy of analogue thumbstick controller or mouse+keyboard combo (WASD for movement and strafing, space to jump, click to fire.

Obviously.) Rarely will you see anyone coming out in favour of mobile or tablet touchscreens as the One True Way and there is an excellent reason for this - without physical feedback, controlling an FPS using a touchscreen is almost always a frustrating experience marked by a lack of precision.

The Drowning is presented as an attempt to change the way FPS games are played on touchscreen devices. Rather than onscreen joypads or fire buttons the game adopts the kind of touch gestures already familiar to touchscreen users. To move, just tap an area of the screen and your characer will run to that location, pathfinding its way around any obstacles in the way. Swiping the screen looks around and a tap of a "turn around" button will execute a rapid 180 so you can deal with any threats to the rear.

Shooting is performed via tapping too. Tap two fingers on the screen and you shoot at the exact mid point between your fingertips. This is perhaps The Drowning's cleverest idea and it does add a genuine element of marksmanship to the game.

Unfortunately, that is where the cleverness stops. The Drowning is on the whole a pretty dismal experience. The tap'n'swipe controls are tolerable but don't feel well suited to an FPS. Because negotiating the environment is left to a pathfinding algorithm, you never feel as if you are really using it to your advantage. There is no sense of cover or trying to gain an advantageous position. The location just serves as a series of places to retreat to when surrounded by enemies.

It is quite telling that the developers have left in the option to play with "traditional" onscreen controls. This gives some finer control over movement but at the expense of shooting accuracy, although the game doesn't really feel more or less fun as a result.

Wonky controls would be forgiveable if the game was more engrossing, but sadly the developer's real ingenuity seems to have been poured into creating the in-app purchasing system (splash the cash, left). Like Candy Crush before it, The Drowning is not so much a game as an engine for siphoning cash from its players. To progress in the game you need to upgrade weapons (to defeat tougher monsters), buy fuel (to travel to new locations) and most irritating of all, to buy time to actually play the game. You quickly run up against unbeatable foes, inaccessible areas and a stingy daily play limit, all of which can be overcome with a little in-app payment.

Candy Crush, however, has the advantage of actually being an addictive game. The Drowning's post-apocalypse-blah-blah-something-about-zombies-and-oil plot is just a figleaf for drab, uninvolving shooting gallery levels that must be ground through in the search for loot and weapon components. You don't explore this game, you are just dropped into formulaic arenas that serve only to conceal waves of enemies, some of which you can pay £££ to defeat if you don't want to play the same levels again and again. What a waste of a potentially good idea.



Editor Rating: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)

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