Growing up all I ever wanted to do was explore the depths of the sea. The untold world that hides in the deep below. The creatures that lurk and make their home there.  That dark and mysterious world that just begs to be discovered. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite have the grades to do that dream job, so now I write about video games. BSK Games and BadLand Games then came along and created Anoxemia and mixed my two dream jobs together in one and I couldn’t be happier.

The Story

You play as the pink-mustached scientist Dr. Bailey who has been tasked to discover some freaky plant life that resides on the acid covered ocean floor. On your way to fulfill what is easily hands down the most dangerous mission ever thought of…something goes wrong. Your state-of-the-art submarine crashes against the ocean floor, you lose all contact with the surface above, you’re surrounded by mines and machines, and running out of oxygen. So what do you do? You man up, wipe the snot from your nose, and get out there and find those twice-damned plants!

The game is well named because as it happens Anoxemia is an actual threat (and occurrence) for many divers. Anoxemia is actually a deficiency of oxygen in the arterial blood. The side effects of which list things such as; anxiety, increased heart rate, excessive sweating, rapid breathing, and confusion. This all works in advantage to the game because it gives off this creepy, hallucinogenic, claustrophobic feeling. Anoxemia gives the players very small spaces to squeeze through and it adds to the terror of the game. 

One thing that is great about the story is how it is told. While some of the game is told in these wonderfully drawn, comic book style panels, the rest is told by the singular banter of Dr. Bailey. Even your little ATMA joins in with some dialogue. For example, when you see a dead body for the first time the ATMA tries to save the Doctor from the horror of it but typing out on the screen, “Move Along, Nothing to see here.”

Gameplay

Without giving too much away of the story, because it is way more fun to experience it, let’s move on to gameplay. Anoxemia is easy to learn but difficult to execute. I found myself doing puzzles more than a few times. As players explore the murky waters as Dr. Bailey and drag him around underwater by a little drone in front of you that does all of the work and guides you through the level. The Drone is really what you play as, the ATMA. You have a small bubble of light around you, but beyond that, it’s complete and total darkness. You can press the sonar button on the drone, which will then indicate the direction you can go to collect the plants. However, it doesn’t light up the area any better. It only gives you a false sense of how far you need to travel to your next objective and highlight mines (so it isn’t totally useless).

Along the way, you have to avoid mines, energy sucking robots, and toxic plant life in order to progress through the level. All of which your ATMA points out to you.  The objective is to collect all the plants before moving through to the next area, furthering the story. As you move on you encounter new underwater environments and get some new abilities, such as a harpoon for shooting and dragging objects, dynamite to collect to cause rock falls and create new paths, and even the ability to power down the robot laser subs chasing you for a short while.

As you travel through the sea it is very important that you find oxygen canisters to keep the supply of O2 up, or you will suffocate very quickly. Everytime you click the sonar there will be a small timer counting down, that is your O2 level slowly declining. Dr. Bailey even wonders why (as you will), “Why are there oxygen canisters at the bottom of the ocean?”  He says it so often, along with “I must not do anything jeopardize the mission,” that you will hear it in your sleep. It is one of the flaws of the game. Sometimes the action button doesn’t work as well as it should, and there were times when I just couldn’t progress (I’m looking at you giant rock that needs to be moved by a harpoon, that I can usually just push instead). I found myself either having to restart the level or die just to see what I did wrong. The puzzles are always solvable but it may take a time or two. The interior levels which are in place are a nightmare to navigate around, as you become stuck easily in rooms or on snags. It helps with the claustrophobic atmosphere but it can be kind of hindering. However, the game is strangely addictive and uses a brilliantly formed concept that will hook you into giving it one more go every time you die. Oh, and you will die a lot.

Unda’ Da Sea!

All of the mechanics work very well and the game really sets up a creepy atmosphere. Anoxemia titles itself as a horror game, but only if you are really scared of being buried at the bottom of the sea, with no oxygen, suffocating, and dying with no chance of help. Well, then yeah it’s pretty horrifying. The movement is good but tricky, much as it should be while moving underwater. Also, there is a lot of game for your dollar. With 38 levels that will tip your anxiety to its peaks, it’s definitely a roller coaster. And it’s great to see that some of the early levels will take you under five minutes to complete, while the latter ones will tax your mind and test your ability not to throw the controller half across the room.

Overall, you’ll find that Anoxemia will give you a lot of game for a very small price. Getting through all the levels is going to take you a decent chunk of time but the challenge is more than worth the investment. The tone, and the story it tells, and the feeling of you might drown for real is done in a superb manner. Sure, not every game can be flawless and the controls can get clunky at times and some of the level design is occasionally annoying. However, if you can get over that then you’ll want to take a deep breath, hold your nose, put on your bell helmet, and dive to discover the secrets of Anoxemia.

Anoxemia Review
The Good
  • Fun, creepy atmosphere
  • Well told story and great music/sounds
The Bad
  • Clunky controls
  • Navigation can be annoying
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

John D
Chief Operating Officer

An Action-Adventurer, RPGer, and FPS kind of gamer. Quick to play any game that has magic, swordplay, and/or stealthy elements. If you can customize a character I'm in it for the long haul. Or just give me your 2D platform and I'm a happy camper. What else do you expect from a gamer with a beard and a bow tie tattoo? seriously.