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Video Game / Aquanox

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An underwater vehicular combat sim, created by now-defunct German developer Massive Development (not to be confused with Swedish studio Massive Entertainment). The game is a direct sequel to their earlier title Archimedean Dynasty (a.k.a. Silent Running, which takes place in the same fictional universe a few years prior.

In the future, due to World War III and an antimatter meteorite, civilisation will be forced to emigrate and live in underwater stations in the depth of the ocean.

The first game was released in 2001 and placed you in the role of Emerald "Deadeye" Flint, a mercenary fighting a race of cyborgs called the Bionts (picking up from where you left off in Archimedean Dynasty). 2003's sequel, Aquanox 2: The Revelation, gives you the role of William Drake, a young (and initially quite naive) man whose cargo freighter gets hijacked by a bunch of pirates, led by a treasure-obsessed man named Amitab, who then shanghais him into fighting for them.

The franchise stayed dormant for a decade, as Massive Development was shut down by their parent company, JoWood in 2005. JoWood themselves was later bought up by Nordic Games (now THQ Nordic), who at Gamescom 2013 announced that they are working on a reboot of the franchise. That reboot turned out to be Aquanox: Deep Descent, funded on Kickstarter in September 2015 and released in October 2020.

Aquanox provides examples of :

  • Advertised Extra: May Ling's role in Aquanox 2's plot is smaller than her central prominence in all the game's promotional material would suggest.
  • After the End: The series takes place centuries after World War III has reduced the surface to an irradiated wasteland, with humanity surviving in underwater habitats dotted across the world divided between several major factions.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different : The switch from Flint to Will Drake in the last game of the trilogy.
  • Apocalypse How: Scope: planetary. Severity: societal disruption...
  • Artistic License – Physics: Critically damaged ships suffer explosive decompression, which would make sense in space... Except that under miles of ocean, they should implode instead.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Vendetta Sniper gun can be used to shoot through people's cockpits for an instant kill when it's zoomed in... but it does very little damage if it hits anywhere else, has a long reload cycle, and cockpits can be REALLY hard to hit on a moving vehicle, especially when you're being shot at and have to stay in motion yourself.
  • The Battlestar: Aquanox has two unique super-carriers, the Crawler's Magma Eater and Iwan King's Creole Girl.
  • Beam Spam: Gatling Laser, Gatling Plasma.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Aquanox has rogue Federation military commander Commodore Sool and the Crawler leader Samuel Korhonen. Sool is a crypto-fascist who wants to take over the Federation and reclaim the surface, while Korhonen is a megalomaniacal madman who basically wants to eat everyone. Although they're working together, each plans to eliminate the other once the Federation and Flint have been dealt with.
  • Climactic Battle Resurrection: The battle for Neopolis, which features lots of characters from throughout the game.
  • Continuity Nod: Done repeatedly throughout Aquanox, which keeps referring to the events of Archimedean Dynasty, and also through Aquanox 2, which refers to events of Aquanox and its prequel.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: One mission in the second game takes place at a mid-ocean ridge. The heat does not damage your submarine unless you get right next to the lava. The water around the ridge is also remarkably calm, while in reality it should be in constant violent churn as the water heated by lava rises up and cooler water flows in from the sides.
  • Cool Sub: ...and how!
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Vanderwaal used to be this, until he lost control of EnTrOx.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Deep Descent reveals that the Bionts are the result of a pre-War scientist using nanites to attempt to achieve immortality, in hopes of living long enough to achieve the enlightenment required to negotiate with the Precursors. Instead she gradually lost her humanity and became the Bionts, bent on either assimilating or eliminating all other lifeforms.
  • Darker and Edgier: When compared to Archimedean Dynasty (which was already pretty gritty to begin with).
  • Dystopia: Though mostly prosperous and highly technologically advanced, the society of Aqua is also extremely corrupt and decadent.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Old Ones/Squids, their apparent leader Forneus, all Bionts, and whatever Drake's Creature is (the plot isn't completely clear, though it seems to be mentioned as something "worse than the Bionts").
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The surface has been rendered uninhabitable and the oceans are covered with an impenetrable layer of highly radioactive dead organic matter which makes travel to the surface impossible. What's left of mankind lives purely Under the Sea.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Archimedean Dynasty's finale sees El Topo manage to unify the Atlantic Federation, Shogunate, and Clans Union for an all-out attack on the Survion, the Bionts' city-sized central brain.
    • Aquanox's finale has the Atlantic Federation, Entrox Corporation, Tornado Zone pirates, and even the Bionts all joining forces against the Crawlers and the Squids. Flint remarks that joining forces with the Bionts is an incredible Idiot Ball move.
  • Escort Mission: An alarming number of them, although most are tolerable once you figure out what you're supposed to do.
  • Eviler than Thou: The Old Ones/Squids pull this on all the other villain factions when they show up in Aquanox's final act. The Bionts end up pulling one on the Squids in the game's ending.
  • Fallen Hero: Admiral Cox becomes an antagonist and leads a coup against the Federation government after a crypto-fascist far right political party gets voted into power. He gets an Alas, Poor Villain.
  • Forbidden Zone: The surface world, "where the pressure is so low that explosive decompression is inevitable." Besides a few idealists and cultists, no one gives any serious thought to trying to recolonize the landmasses of Earth, even though it's been centuries since the wars and successive disasters that ruined it.
  • Future Slang: "Light" is a common greeting in the underwater world, possibly because there's so little of it.
  • Gainax Ending: Aquanox and Aquanox II both feature end cutscenes with a lot of exposition and very little explanation, and suggestions of a possible future story or sequel that has not materialized.
  • Gatling Good: Vendetta Gatling, among others. See Beam Spam.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The last level of Aquanox is broken and often renders the game Unwinnable, due to the final boss failing to appear at the end of the mission. This is mostly caused by installing the final 1.7 patch instead of the earlier 1.5 patch, but sometimes happens even with the 1.5 version of the game.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke : The biont monsters.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In Revelations, Drake ultimately learns he's destined to prepare humanity for a battle against an enemy even greater than the Bionts, though exactly who that is, is left completely vague, as the game doesn't seem to be precisely describing either the Squids or the Senthic.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Obviously.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Even the apparent good guys of Aqua are morally ambiguous at best.
  • Human Resources: The Crawlers are cannibals, and it's revealed that the Bionts capture humans and break them down into base proteins to fuel their bio-organic parts.
  • Kill Sat: Project Brainfire.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: At one point, you attack a base centered around the Statue of Liberty.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Federation's Brainfire Project turns out to be an attempt to gain control of one of the remaining pre-war orbital satellite lasers.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Hydra gun essentially spews out a continuous stream of small, short-ranged, lightweight, target-seeking torpedoes.
  • Mega-Corp: EnTrOx Corporation. Its three main products/services are right there in the name: energy, transportation, and oxygen (well, a mix of helium, as oxygen is toxic at that pressure, but EnTrHe wouldn't sound as cool). They hold the region of the Caribbean Sea effectively as their own sovereign nation.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Old Ones/Squids serve this role in Aquanox, similar to the Bionts in Archimedean Dynasty.
  • Pinball Protagonist: William Drake doesn't really take the initiative to choose his own course or even ask hard questions about the course of others. Whenever he does make any decisions on his own, they are nearly always ill-informed.
  • Police Are Useless: Yup. Aqua is more or less lawless outside of the habitats, and known murderers are often seen walking around inside those habitats without any problems. The police subs that patrol the areas around the habs are often mysteriously not present so that Flint can take jobs that they are supposed to do, and they die by the sub-load whenever you take a mission that pits you against them. On the rare occasions where they are present and supporting you, they still won't actually do very much.
  • Precursors: Deep Descent reveals that an underwater race known as the Senthic, living under Antarctica, predate humanity and have technology so advanced they might as well be gods. They're responsible for the radioactive plankton layer cutting Aqua off from the Earth's surface, as punishment for mankind destroying the planet. They're also inadvertently responsible for the creation of the Bionts, as a pre-War scientist who knew of their existence used nanites to become the Bionts in order to live long enough to achieve the enlightenment that would be necessary to negotiate with them.
  • Prequel: The ending of Deep Descent reveals that it's one to Archimedean Dynasty and the original Aquanox games, taking place some period before Flint's time. You can even meet Flint as a child aboard Nemo's ship.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: Flint always refers to his stolen sub "Succubus" as "Zoo-koo-bahs".
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Neither Flint nor Drake seem overly troubled by the huge numbers of people they kill, no matter who they are, and no one ever takes them to task for it either. Occasionally, someone will voice a sentence of complaint, but it never becomes a part of the plot.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Inverted with the Bionts; Archimedean Dynasty makes it clear they're an Outside-Context Problem that no one has ever heard of, while Deep Descent shows the Bionts were already a known threat a couple of decades before the events of Archimedean Dynasty (though their existence may have been classified by the powers that be).
  • Retcon: There's a throwaway line in the ending to Deep Descent in which Deadeye Flint dismisses the tales of his adventures as dramatized holo-film productions that were Very Loosely Based on a True Story, in which many of the faction names were even changed to avoid pissing them off. This is possibly an attempt to reconcile any continuity differences between the original 3 games and Deep Descent.
  • Sea Mine: There are levels dedicated to these. Worst of all are levels where you must do an Escort Mission for a ship that is incapable of doing its own minesweeping.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Flint and co. do good work for better credits.
    • Amitab's pirate crew give speeches about this trope to Drake whenever he complains about their actions, or their continual abuse of him.
  • The Stoic / Deadpan Snarker: Flint (in contrast to Archimedean Dynasty, where he was more of a cheerful Lovable Rogue).
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Halfway through the first game Admiral Cox turns rogue against the Atlantic Federation and Commodore Sool takes his place in giving orders on the AF side. Cox had consistently been portrayed as a Father to His Men Reasonable Authority Figure and a father figure to Flint personally, while Sool radiates a smug sense of superiority and thinly veiled contempt every time you speak to him. The story has Flint follow Sool's lead to fight against Cox with surprisingly little question. As is to be fully expected, Cox turns out to have had very good reasons for his actions, and Sool was not to be trusted.
  • Submarine Girl: Sally is both this and the Computer Voice of Flint's sub.
  • Submarine Pirates: The world of Aqua has them. In fact, the main plot of Aquanox 2: Revelation is kicked off when your character's home sub is hijacked by pirates while he is away, and he is forced to deal with them from then on (one of them later turns out to be his uncle).
  • Sub Story: A futuristic take on it.
  • Title Drop: In the first game, one conversation with a rather philosophical person will have him refer to the bad state of the world as "Aquanox, the watery night".
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: The "dipole drive" serves like the underwater equivalent of a hyperdrive, teleporting enemies away and out of reach when they need to leave the stage, or yourself at the end of a mission. You can't actually use it during the mission, even if you want to hurry up.
  • Truce Zone: Combat inside of habitats is apparently strickly taboo, and various thugs and rivals will often meet you inside of bars to trash talk you, before the two of you head outside to your subs to fight it out. At one point towards the end of the first Aquanox, you can find the two most wanted men on the planet (pretty much the setting's equivalents of Hitler and Osama Bin Laden) strolling casually around in a city park waiting to talk to you.
  • The Unfought: You never actually fight a proper duel against Big Bad Samuel Korhonen or his Ace Custom sub; although he participates in some of the end-game firefights, he warps away after a very short period of time. At the end he gets eaten by the final boss in a cutscene.
  • Unwinnable: In one version of the game, the final part of the final mission is bugged.
  • Used Future: An underwater version - but a lot of the subs still look really awesome.
  • The Usual Adversaries: The Crawlers, a deep-dwelling civilization of cannibals hostile towards all of the other human civilizations.
  • Villain Decay: The Bionts, the Big Bad faction of Archimedean Dynasty, have been reduced to a weak group of Remnants who serve as the enemies in the game's first Act. Their ships are noticeably weaker and slower than they were in Archimedean Dynasty; justified in that the remaining Bionts in Aqua are stray units leftover from the destruction of their civilization in the first game, who have not been maintained or repaired for more than a year.
  • The Wall Around the World: A highly radioactive layer of dead organic matter completely covers the oceans near the surface, preventing any attempts to travel to the surface world.
  • Water Is Air: The small, one-man subs maneuver very much like aircraft. The game tries to Hand Wave this by claiming that supercavitation technology allows subs to do exactly that. Supercavitation is a Real Life technology that creates an air bubble around the craft to reduce the drag and speed it up. The technology is currently being used to build some super-fast Russian torpedoes. In fact, DARPA is supposedly working on a way to create fast-moving mini-subs for quick underwater transportation using his method. However, currently, DARPA isn't even sure that a submersible craft can even turn when using supercavitation, much less maneuver like a fighter jet.
  • Western Terrorists: One of the problems facing the world of Aqua are "Terror Tourists", bored Federation youths who travel to poorer non-Federation areas and randomly blow up habitats and property for giggles.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: William Drake, at first. He gets better in this regard.
  • Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Admiral Cox's rebel forces primarily fight with non-lethal EMP weaponry, which disable enemy subs instead of destroying them. The player is encouraged to return the favor, but there's no real gameplay or plot punishment for just straight killing them instead.
  • Yandere: May Ling, a.k.a. "MayDay".