Hydrophobia: A Second Look

by on January 5, 2011

Back in October, we reviewed the Xbox Live Arcade title “Hydrophobia” and gave it a score of 7/10, saying that it was “worth investigating. However, some may find the lack of signposting a very real and frustrating problem, one that may well hamper their overall enjoyment of the game”. We concluded by saying “Downloadable games have an extremely high bar set for them nowadays and due to some issues that really could have been avoided (despite the game being so obviously a labour of love), Hydrophobia falls just short”.

However, Dark Energy Digital have decided to rectify some of these problems with the recently released “Pure” patch, (detailed here) so we thought we’d take a second look at the game and see if the patch changes our opinion.

The first thing you’ll notice when playing the game after it’s update is the controls. Gone are the odd choices made from the original state of the game and in it’s place are some more traditional controls. For instance, jump is now assigned to the A button and aiming is done by pressing in the left trigger. This makes the game a lot more accessible right off the bat, as it fits right in with control schemes used in the majority of other third person action/adventure games.

In our review, we specifically mentioned the waypoint/signposting as being a big issue and this has thankfully been addressed, it’s just one hundred percent better. It’s hard to put into words, but the issue has been so succesfully resolved that it makes you realise how broken it was in the first place.

One of the features listed in the update is “enhanced collision detection” which in my experience seemed to show its face as a few rather odd cases of Kate ragdolling in water and taking forever to get back to her feet. In the same vein, the “more realistic character water resistance” is definitely noticable, but not in a good way. This addition absolutely does what it says on the tin, but it feels a bit too harsh and slows the movement a little too much.

The climbing system is much improved though and traversal around Hydrophobia’s platforming situations is far more enjoyable. Swinging on bars has been improved and the automatic ledge grab also makes the platforming sections play a whole a lot better.

The laundry list of items that have been addressed in the patch goes on and on, making you wonder why on earth these things weren’t addressed during playtesting. What it boils down to though is that there are a number of small tweaks in along with some major ones such as the waypoint fixes and the control issues, but the game hasn’t changed enough to warrant giving it a new score.

Hydrophobia is still worth checking out though for all the reasons mentioned in our review and this patch makes it all the more accessible to do so. If you haven’t already tried the trial then now is definitely the time to do so, especially as the price has now dropped to 800 Microsoft Points.

You can find a full list detailing everything patched on the official Hydrophobia website.

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