There are many things in a game that make it beautiful and enjoyable. Most of you probably witnessed how things like human faces, animals, lighting effects, shadows, movements and many more have evolved and gotten quite close to the real stuff and photorealism. But someone said some time ago that fire and water effects are the things that make a game truly alive.
Well, we all remember how dazzling the original Crysis water was, back in 2007. It’s always nice to see the water from a distance and gaze into it and maybe throw a few things in it, but few games would actually allow you to dive in and delve into the blue. Having such elements incorporated in a game is no easy task and it changes the physics and mechanics of movements completely. So it’s not just a coincidence that it’s such a rare concept in games.
In water, everything feels different, you feel your body get lighter, everything is alive and even time feels like it’s running slower. Have you ever wanted to have a deeper perception and experience of that feeling in a game? Well, then we have good news for you! Despite there not being so many, there are some games that completely take place in this somewhat neglected gaming environment – the H2O.
We are giving you the ultimate list of underwater games, bringing you a satisfying recreation and experience of being under the surface – the closest you will get to the real thing, and of course being fun to play. Ready to submerge? A whole new world is waiting for you.
Depth Hunter 2: Deep Dive
Get your harpoon ready because you are on a hunt! Depth Hunter 2: Deep Dive is more than a decent underwater exploration sim which will let you feel the true calmness and charm of the sea. Expect no dynamic gameplay elements or truly breath-taking moments. The beauty of this game is exactly in its simplicity. Being equipped with just fins and a snorkel on your first dive will definitely give you the ‘wow’ effect.
The graphics are really gorgeous! You might find it pretty enough to just explore and stare at the depths. Think of it as therapy. You had some trouble throughout your day? Half an hour with Depth Hunter 2: Deep Dive will calm your nerves. You still have missions to complete, to find treasures, upgrade your equipment and all that but what this game does well is to recreate the feeling of being deep in the blue.
We never said that good underwater games should be focused on realism and demanding graphics. Implanting the feel of moving through the unique aquatic environment is enough to make a water-themed game enjoyable and authentic. This beautiful game delivers exactly that.
flOw is different than anything you will find on this list. It bears a heavy resemblance to the original Snake game and lets the player control a small shiny worm-like creature that has to eat other creatures so that it can evolve. It may sound quite weird but trust us, the gameplay is quite addictive. We bet you have never been a floating amoeba at the beginning of Evolution.. right?
Many refer to Abzu as the underwater version of Journey. In fact, it’s so much more than that. Well, it definitely takes inspiration from the classic PlayStation title but it is unique in its approach, splendidly portrays marine life, and goes much deeper (literally).
Featuring sweet cell-shaded graphics, Abzu is focused not so much on realistic performance, models, and textures, but more on the sense of everything being alive, interactiveness, and a huge interconnection between everything in the ocean.
You take on the role of a nameless diver led by a white shark in a quest to preserve the balance in the water, which is endangered by pyramid-like creatures called Harvesters. Solving puzzles, riding dolphins, swimming with fish through passages and more will absolutely leave you breathless as you explore the world of Abzu.
So far we were pretty much playing Marco Polo and making bubbles with the games above but that’s far from what we got here. SOMA is an underwater horror game and the waters here are anything but full of life or soothing. We had Journey underwater, now we have Doom underwater.
This psychological horror takes place in a spooky underwater facility that was home to the last people living on Earth after almost all life perished when an asteroid hit the planet. You will be spending most of your time exploring the gruesome sea bottom, figuring out stressful puzzles, listening to audiotapes of long-gone inhabitants, avoiding fearsome creatures, and overall trying to survive this hostile and forsaken underworld, inspired by the works of Philip. K. Dick.
Being spiritual successors to one of the most influential games of all time – System Shock, the BioShock series contains some of the finest, most unique action-RPG titles you can will across. Brace yourselves for an entirely analog and unique steampunk world set underwater. Maybe we should call it waterpunk? Biopunk?
BioShock 2 has improved water-effects compared to the original, adds new gameplay elements but keeps the city of Rapture the same – a beautiful dystopia exhaling despair. You take the role of a Big Daddy – an enhanced human being trapped in an armored underwater suit on a journey to find his Little Sister to bond again.
You might not spend so much time actually swimming, but fighting the terrifying Big Sisters, upgrading deadly weapons, using plasmids, and much more is waiting for you. Yep, that sounds quite weird and surrealistic but if we start explaining those ‘family bonds’ in detail, we will end up spoiling the whole thing. Bioshock 2 is most definitely a must-play, so make sure you get your PSN cards reloaded and ready to go!
We do love our own seas and oceans but imagine how cool it would be if you got the chance to dive into an ocean on an alien planet! If that’s your goal, this is your best pick. Subnautica feels like an awesome Sci-fi movie transitioned into a gripping survival action-adventure game.
After a crash, you find yourself on a remote alien ocean planet and you will have to collect resources to survive, encounter all kinds of dangerous sea animals, use advanced underwater gadgets, submarines, and more. But what this addictive title truly excels at is being one of the best exploration games of all time. You might spend hours just doing some side stuff. Sounds a lot like Skyrim underwater, huh?
Make no mistake, Subnautica is more than just a good underwater sim. Alongside the almost infinite stuff you can do, you are getting served a great story that will keep you engaged to the end.
Yes, we have mentioned BioShock 2 above, but the first one is too good to pass up. They are both amazing games, and we cater to giving you the best that we could find. Anyways, welcome to the city of Rapture! The sickest underwater atmosphere of all time! It’s funny how many games are being set on dryland or space and almost none of them takes place in the oldest living setting – the water. 2007’s original BioShock is one of the most haunting underwater experiences. You are not just swimming underwater, the whole city is submerged underwater.
Being set in the 1960s in a fictional ocean city built by a business tycoon, this masterpiece has one of the best water effects to ever grace the world of gaming. Rapture is a technologically advanced city giving its inhabitants a chance for a better life, more opportunities, and even genetically enhancing them with a substance called ADAM, harvested from sea slugs. This idea failed big time, as you had probably already guessed. Initially striving to be a utopia and to surpass every city on the surface, Rapture became a failure after riots aimed at its creator Andrew Ryan.
This unique first-person RPG will give you tons of chills as you move through water-leaked buildings, fight aggressive mutated citizens, shoot at heavy-armored divers, use superpowers, hack pieces of machinery, and decide whether you should sacrifice a child’s life in favor of getting new powers. If you aren’t petrified by fear by now you should go and pay Rapture a prolonged visit!
Underwater games are truly rare animals. Whether you come just to flow through the calmness of the sea, to hunt, or to explore underwater worlds, one thing is certain – you will love the water. It’s like you become the best version of yourself underwater.
Diving into and becoming part of the water is somewhat of an escape from the real world. Just as games are, by the way. So a combination of both is something rare and extraordinary. We should keep our fingers crossed for more underwater games in the future! What is the most important thing when making an underwater game? Leave your comment below!
Passionate writer and certified night owl. Currently drowning in coffee.