Barotrauma is the new title from a Finnish game dev collective called FakeFish Games. The young team has gathered experts from various fields to put the promising project of Joonas Rikkonen (the creative mind and chief programmer of the horror game SCP - Containment Breach) together. FakeFish introduced Barotrauma as a game that simulates drowning. In essence, it's a 2D survival adventure set in space where players have to uncover a hidden secret at the core of Jupiter's Europa moon, all the while managing a space-submarine. To make matters worse, everything we meet on our adventure wants to kill us.
Below the thick icy surface of Jupiter's moon, enormous oceans open up. If the hard shell of our submarine is damaged by aliens or sharp-edged rocks, water can flood into our sub. Supply and energy cycles are interrupted when being damaged fairly frequently too, which makes things even more difficult. To continue our journey the leak must be plugged, the systems restored and, if necessary, repaired, and any dangers need to be eliminated. However, we have to take certain precautions to even complete the simplest of objectives. For example, when sealing the leak you have to think about the water pressure since at these depths it's high enough to make your crew members lose consciousness.
This is just one example of the complex gameplay systems that are baked into Barotrauma's hardcore simulation. At the press event, the developers gave us a brief gameplay overview but made it very clear that even the smallest tasks are demanding. According to FakeFish, players are not supposed to know everything as they make their way through the game. The captain, for example, might be able to treat burn wounds, which may or may not be enough to dispense the ship doctor entirely from that particular journey. A total of six of these specialisations can be chosen and you can switch between them in certain game modes.
The game's world is procedurally generated, but fixed parameters are implemented in the missions and during the campaign. There is also a sandbox mode, where up to 16 players can gather for crazy online adventures. When we're not manoeuvring our space-sub through narrow caves or fighting off nasty alien monsters, we need to keep an eye on the ship's many systems. Once we've reached friendly outposts (evidently they were set up in the depths of the Europa moon for some reason) we can trade resources, recruit new staff, and fill up our supplies. In the campaign, additional side missions may provide the necessary capital for our exploration.
Crafting is a major pillar of Barotrauma as weapons, equipment, and various other items are needed to survive the increasingly life-threatening conditions of Europa. A mysterious alien technology, for example, causes mental confusion among the members of our crew, and those affected begin to see and hear things that aren't real (The Abyss comes to mind). This is very much compatible with the so-called "Traitor Mode", which is available when playing online. From time to time, participants receive secret assignments instructing them to kill allies silently. This holds a lot of potential as long as all players master the basic game mechanics and understand the fun...
Although the production values seem modest, the tremendous creative potential of this cooperative sandbox experience quickly becomes apparent. Barotrauma demands that its players to cope with life-threatening, dangerous situations, and this co-op focus will appeal to hardcore survival fans as the interweaving gameplay systems are designed to require efficiency and oversight. Mods are being given high priority and should be well received by the PC community through Steam Workshop functionality. Those who love highly complex survival simulators and cooperative play should keep their periscope firmly fixed on Barotrauma.
For more about the games we saw during Daedalic Days, head this way.