When you awake you discover that fishmen have forsaken the ocean and nature itself to live in a steampunk style theocratic metropolis, founded and led by an enigmatic religious leader. While apparently once a true shining city, by the time you awake conditions in the city are corrupt and miserable. Quickly it becomes obvious the endless misery inflicted on the fishmen is most likely intentional, but by whom and for what reason is up to you to find out.
Over the course of the game you must help the miserable citizens with their problems, ranging from comedic to tragic, and solve puzzles. Water can possess people, move through pipes, , enthrall people to take her orders, and transform into her namesake liquid to do anything that actual water can do (IE: storing yourself in a barrel)
Unusually for a source-mod game, the story has high quality cutscenes. Even more unusually, they are told in a charmingly rustic style that looks like a puppet show with hand painted cardboard marionettes.
This game provides examples of:
- Batman Gambit: Through the guise of the Preacher, Fire made life miserable for the Fishmen to draw you out of hiding
- Big Bad: The Preacher, who is also Fire (Water's Sister).
- Cool, Clear Water: Possibly out of respect for their heritage, the fishmen have not polluted the water to the extent you would think an industrial hellhole on the scale of The City would have (barring minor littering) and it still looks clean enough to drink in most places.
- Death by Origin Story: The forest oriented sister was killed by Fire before the plot begins. Fire took over the city to awaken Water and finish the job of sororicide, which would leave her the last deity standing.
- Driving Question: Who wants to make the fish men miserable, and what could they possibly gain?
- Dystopia Justifies the Means: Someone or something is intentionally making life near unlivable for the Fishmen, and it seems to be for no other reason than to cause misery. In reality, it was a Batman Gambit. Fire knew you would only be woken up by the crying of your subjects
- Fish People: Although the fishmen look much more like the "people" half rather than the "fish" half.
- Gaia's Lament: While the ocean has been spared, the land itself has not since Grass is dead and now it is being exploited for whatever resources it has left.
- Religion of Evil: The cities main religion, sadly.
- See Water: Thankfully.
- Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Goes from one end to the other — Shiny when underwater, Gritty and drab when above.
- Steam Punk: While under the water, the city looks like a Victorian paradise — When youre above water, its the drab depressing style reminiscent of Mortal Engines and other cynical Punk Punk works.
- Super Drowning Skills: Inverted. Water, having gills, can't survive on land for very long.
- Water Is Air: Fittingly, as Water has Gills.
- Water Is Blue: Even when everything else is monochrome, the water will remain bluish.