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Video Game / Hydrophobia

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Rejoice with your survival.


Hydrophobia is an Episodic Xbox Live Arcade Exclusive title made by Dark Energy Digital. Set 20 Minutes in the Future, it follows the story of Kate Wilson, a young woman who lives and works as an engineer on a massive ship called Queen of the World, which acts as a floating city. During the celebration for the ship's 10-year anniversary, a group of terrorists called the Malthusians attack the ship, taking control of the ship's engines and killing the workers. The attack also has the side-effect of flooding many of the compartments in the ship.

Kate (with the help of Scoot via radio) must make it off A-deck alive while fighting off the armed terrorists and saving her workmates.

Touted as an example of "episodic gaming" ($12 for three levels with great graphics plus the Challenge Rooms), Hydrophobia is actually an experiment in taking Wreaking Havok up to eleven. The theme is water—water flowing, flooding and drowning. Your initial weapon is a "sonic pistol"—a stun gun granted surprising properties in the flooding environments of the ship's lower decks. It has infinite ammo, and will stun mooks for several seconds, knock small objects around and shatter glass. However, it also has a Charged Attack that causes an impressive, albeit small explosion. These make headshots lethal—but fired into water, it will send loose objects—including mooks— flying. Lethal ammo is available, but is actually unnecessary, as every environment has No OSHA Compliance and thereby things that will kill mooks if fired upon.

The game was hyped massively before release, being touted as having production values of a full-priced commercially released game. The critics (metaphorically) crucified it upon release. In response, the developers released a patch (known as Hydrophobia Pure) that fixed most of the issues (except the voice acting, which understandably you can't simply "tweak" like gameplay issues), and dropped the price by 400 MS points.

In another response, the developers released Hydrophobia Prophecy, a remake of the game, on Steam and the Play Station Network. It took Hydrophobia Pure and improved it even further in just about every area: visuals, level design, narrative, gameplay, audio, etc. (a full list can be found here).

The story is expanded on, as is Kate's "waterbending'— the Malthusians attacked the Queen of the World in order to seize Nanomachines intended to purify water on a massive scale (which would produce enough resources to make their philosophy obsolete), intending to turn them into a Depopulation Bomb. Kate interrupts them in the act, resulting in a Freak Lab Accident that eventually allows her to manipulate water with a gesture.

Plans for a sequel were made, but with the closure of Dark Energy Digital, it currently seems unlikely.

The game contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Survivor: Although she's a fitness enthusiast, Kate's an engineer, not a soldier, and she's clearly out of her depth and very disturbed when dealing with dead bodies, explosions, and lunatics with automatic weapons. She still manages to survive and save the day, though.
  • A Friend in Need: Scoot insists on staying to help Kate at the risk of his own life, despite Kate repeatedly insisting that Scoot go and save himself.
  • Ascended Extra: Mila Krass. She was promoted from a minor character who was only mentioned a few times in the original to the Big Bad and appears in cutscenes in Prophecy.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Pretty much all of the "Documents" you can find lying around are some flavor of Log.
  • Berserk Button: Of a sort. The final boss needs line of sight confirmation to begin firing its main weapons. Hide for long enough, and it will just pitch grenades everywhere, thus ensuring that if it could not see you before, it probably will when the grenades blast you out from behind whatever pillar you were using as cover.
  • Cliffhanger: In the Prophecy remake. Kate has killed Mila, and (perhaps) saved the ship. But Scoot is still missing, and there's no telling what will happen to Kate now that she's given herself the nanobot antidote.
  • Cosmic Deadline:
    • The game has No Ending? It doesn't have a middle either. They started work and ran out of money.
    • Hydrophobia Prophecy gave the game a beginning, a middle and an end, although the end still suffers from thus trope a bit and is topped off with a Cliffhanger.
  • Crapsack World: Due to overpopulation, which has exhausted most of the planet's resources.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: You don't get control over water until near the end of the game, enough time to drown about 10 or so mooks on your way to the boss.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: When Kate attempts to speak to Officer Yates, who is sitting in a computer chair, he doesn't answer. She turns the chair... and jumps back, shrieking, as his scorched corpse tumbles to the floor.
  • Flooded Future World: The game takes place in a future where much of the world is flooded and massive ships now serve as floating cities.
  • Grey Goo: A variant. The Malthusians want to re-purpose salt water purification nanites so that they purify any water. That includes the water in humans. This would rather quickly put an end to the overpopulation problem, and a few of their goons show off the effects when a canister breaks on them.
  • Guide Dang It!: The Deep Breath medal. Get the hidden collectible in the middle of the flooded elevator shaft without coming back up for air. Sounds simple, right? Except in order to trigger it, you actually have to go past the shaft, trigger the cutscene that gives you the gun, then go back for it, essentially ignoring the entire purpose of the medal (you're presumably supposed to swim from the locked elevator to the collectible then to the top of the shaft in one breath, which is doable but a lot harder).
  • Hazardous Water: Becomes Murder Water in the Challenge Room when Kate is controlling it.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Just match up the frequencies and you're in.
  • Informed Flaw: Kate's afraid of water, but swims like a pro. Could be related to her dead sister, Jen.
  • Left Hanging: Most if not all the plot points raised by the storyline, thanks to the game's rather abrupt No Ending.
  • Making a Splash: Kate's hydrokinetic abilities allow her to call up towers of water. These towers in turn can suck up objects and toss them, suck up mooks and drown them (or toss them), or disrupt the water around them to knock over mooks indirectly.
  • Mercy Kill: There's a medal for heatshotting a soldier being electrocuted (before they die, obviously).
  • Misanthrope Supreme: The Big Bad is a terrorist organization that believes the one and only solution to problems caused by overpopulation is mass extermination of human life. Their slogan is Save the Planet, Kill Yourself.
  • No Ending:
    • Literally. The original game ends abruptly as Kate is going to save Scoot and runs into the Superintendent, who is packing heat and ready to help. Suddenly, a wave of water no higher than most you've already seen rushes onto the scene, and Kate and the Superintendent dive out of the way: you're expecting maybe a final stage where you must swim in pure water trying to find Scoot, but nope, sudden unexpected end credits. No closure for the plot, no information about what happens next, no clue for continuation just a very unexpectedly abrupt end despite the tons of questions the game has already raised.
    • Hydrophobia Prophecy averts this. Kate never meets the Superintendent, and instead chases down the leader of the cult attacking the ship. There's a lot more content but then... The game ends with Kate injecting herself with the antidote and then everything fades to black.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Kate is all over the place. There appears to be Scottish, English, Irish, American Southern, and American with no accent in the space of a few minutes. Funnily enough, the actress playing Kate is Irish. When you realise she's Irish Mancunian Kate's accent becomes a lot clearer.
    • Scoot suffers from this at times, and very badly at that. Is it really that hard to find people with genuine accents?
    • The original Scoot was at least genuinely British, though not Scottish. The Prophecy remake replaces Scoot's odd accent with a generic flat low-pitched American Action Guy voice.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Check out the walls in various rooms through the MAVI. The Arc Words - 'Save the World, Kill Yourself' - are everywhere. And you can find quotes from Thomas Malthus at various points that way, too.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When turning off the gas in Act 2, Scoot hums the 'puzzle solved' theme from The Legend of Zelda.
    • He quotes Die Hard when Kate uses an air vent.
  • Sticky Bomb: Comes in two varieties. Both varieties are shot from your pistol and detonate after 10 seconds or a manual trigger. Gel Rounds explode and set the its surroundings on fire while Energy Rounds emits electricity.
  • Swiss-Army Gun: What kind of gun the LP4 is depends on what ammo you load into it. Semi-automatic ammo makes it into your standard FPS pistol, rapid-fire ammo makes it a submachine gun, explosive gel ammo makes it into a Sticky Bomb launcher, and energy ammo makes it a Sticky Bomb launcher that kills things with lighting.
  • Tech-Demo Game: Hydrophobia was created with the purpose of showing off HydroEngine, the engine behind its pretty sophisticated fluid simulation effects.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • Act 3. You've completely adapted to and come to enjoy underwater gunfights - and now you've got a high and dry mall full of psychos versus your shitty stun pistol. Better have saved some lethal ammo.
    • And again in Act 3, once hydrokinesis is unlocked. Suddenly, the cover-based shooting you've been doing pales in comparison to water-based mook-throwing.
  • Videogame Caring Potential: There's a medal for putting your enemy out of his misery if he's being electrocuted.
  • Videogame Cruelty Potential: Let's see... Set people on fire, electrocute them, attach explosives to them, damage a wall behind them so they're crushed by a metal panel that is in turn being pushed forward by thousands of gallons of water, stun them while they're underwater so they drown, or just plain shoot them. And this doesn't cover what you can do with hydrokinesis.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Scoot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Can be applied to many things thanks to the oft-mentioned Cliffhanger.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Kate suffers from hydrophobia... except that hydrophobia is actually a symptom of rabies where people refuse to drink since swallowing hurts too much. Fear of water is called aquaphobia.

Alternative Title(s): Hydrophobia Prophecy