Aquanox – Deep Descent – Review
Follow Genre: First-person shooter / Simulation
Developer: Digital Arrow
Publisher: THQ Nordic GmbH
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Aquanox – Deep Descent – Review

Site Score
Good: Immersive and action-packed simulation with a lot of potential with future updates.
Bad: No H.O.T.AS in-game support and free-roam after main questline completion.
User Score
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Aquanox is an underwater first-person / simulation game and the fifth in line of the series, that lets one explore the depths of the oceans and their secrets. It is a world after a great war that drove mankind to the underwater world called Aqua. Some humans have been in cryo-sleep for so long that the awakening of such an ordeal will definitely have side effects, such as memory loss. Trapped under a thick layer of dissolving nano-plankton, mankind is searching for a way to penetrate the layer while surviving the underwater world and tensions between factions.


The story behind the game is about an awakening of several individuals, chosen by their specific set of skills and background to find the scientist Nemo and complete a project called Nammu. As the player progresses further into the story it is hinted more and more that the 4 individuals were part of Project Nammu before “the last day” humanity set foot on solid ground. Going further into the main questline, the 4 individuals will start slowly remembering about their past and what the main goal of Project Nammu is. Some say that it is a way for humanity to penetrate the nono-plankton layer and retake the land world which has been inhabitable for more than two centuries.

The whole game is situated in the underwater world called Aqua. This new place is a post-apocalyptic sea world where factions are battling for survival and territory. The dangerous fauna called nano-plankton has covered the oceans and seas, trapping mankind and not letting any form of life pass through it. It turns living beings into zombies although this is most common by wild animals like sharks and whales. There is also a tale of an alien life form called ‘Sintetics’ that has been around for millennia, watching mankind in its every step and that the nano-plankton is their judgment against humanity in their thirst for war and destruction. Along the way, the personal affairs of the heroes surrounding the player will cause a dramatic stirring of feelings such as love, sacrifice, doubt, and pride. In the end, finishing project ‘Nammu’ will be the foundation of humanity’s innocence and their change of heart. Binding all factions against a common enemy, the ‘Bionts’, part-human, part-machine humanoids that want to destroy mankind and the Sentetics to rule over the earth.


The game uses high-quality textures for different materials such as metal, sand, etc. The water world felt more realistic progressing further as visiting different regions also changes the color of the water and overall look and feel. In some regions, you would feel life as if near a coral reef, while other areas would be green and almost lifeless with graveyards of ships as far as the eye can see.

Weapon effects and explosions look realistic enough, yet some effects need a bit of tweaking with a patch or two. Explosions don’t set much of underwater shockwaves and there is just too much fire and smoke considering the battles are underwater. Ships look more as if they are made for space than for water. Their upgrades also make ships look even more otherworldly. Inside the cockpit, there are many things such as buttons and levers that are only there for the visuals and have no function at all. If compared to space simulation games like Elite Dangerous almost every single button or statistic says something about your or enemy’s ship.

The surrounding objects such as flora and drifting materials are not solid. This made the experience less real as these would just pass through the ship. It felt quite disappointing at times really. Ground, rocks, stations, and ships were indeed solid as they could be shot with a weapon and you would receive feedback from them, such as visible damage and effects like sparks. In the beginning, the game felt too basic as the graphics were not what one would expect. This eventually changed while progressing further into the game.
Cut-scenes were really cinematic and well done. It felt sometimes as if one was watching a real apocalyptic movie. The studio did not use much of a 3-dimensional field to present the game’s cut-scenes but the approach was great, repetitive but well made indeed. This was a fairly big contrast compared to the static 2D drawings in the dialogues.


The overall sound usage, such as water flowing around the ship, the collisions with solid matter, and pressure boosts, all made the feeling of the underwater adventure world truly immersive and pleasing. The battle music was limited to several soundtracks of tracks with exception of the final chapter.
The voice acting felt as it came straight out of a series and made the overall feeling of the conversations between the heroes real as if one was there with them. You can really hear the different characters and their actors, as some studios would opt to use one actor to voice several characters. A minor nuisance would be the voicing of the enemies and their tendency to use the same few phrases as taunts. It felt at times annoying and absolutely cheeky for a low-level vessel to taunt over its superiority, while it was barely doing any damage to the ship.


Aquanox Deep Descent is an Action RPG with Simulation elements. In the game, you’ll be exploring an underwater world that now serves as the last bastion of mankind. The game’s tutorial was much needed, yet in the eyes of some experienced simulation players still incomplete. There are some points that the tutorial did not mention. For example, boosting can also be done forwards and backward.
The difficulty of the game can be set appropriately to one’s wishes. In the end, it comes down to using the field to your advantage and coming up with a tactic for defeating different enemy ships and using their weaknesses to your advantage. Swapping weapons is possible while in battle. You will have to make do with a maximum of two switchable primary weapons. Having this option to swap them is important for hurting enemy vessels, when knowing their weaknesses. Secondary weapons are mostly turrets and mine-throwers. Abilities range from impenetrable shields for few seconds to countermeasures, homing missiles, and a personal favorite an EMP-shockwave

Salvaging and crafting found materials is one of the main sources of income and survival while being out in the open seas. Preparing enough ammo, shield, and repair kits are something of a necessity. Crafting can be done on sight, this makes the journeys to different stations unnecessary at times.

Saving the game is somewhat similar to ‘TES: Skyrim’. There are quick and autosave options, but their usefulness is not as limited as quick saving, which will only be available during one session of the game. Meaning once the game closes the quick save will no longer be available. Saving your game the old fashioned way is the best way to prepare for a battle.

Setting up the controls felt limited as the only options were mouse/keyboard and controller. For a simulation of this caliber, the H.O.T.A.S control-set would truly bring a better gameplay experience. You can remap the controls, and even remap them to your device, but not every software tends to work properly with it when you do. It is advised to play this game with a keyboard and mouse. Implementing VR would drastically be something the studio should look after.


Aquanox Deep Descent might be the fifth in the ongoing series, but it is not by any means a dulled-out entry of the series. The game brings great graphics, a dramatic storyline, and outstanding voice-acting to the table. While we encountered some hiccups during our playthroughs, such as limited options, no H.O.T.A.S. recognition, and some unrealistic effects and clipping issues, we still enjoyed playing through this title. By adding support for simulation fans with the aforementioned H.O.T.A.S. support and perhaps VR implementation this could be a stellar underwater experience.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.7/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Aquanox - Deep Descent - Review, 6.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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