Last year former DICE Sweden creative director Ben Cousins promised to revolutionise touch screen controls for mobile first-person shooters. He's kept that promise with The Drowning, but the game's free-to-play structure is dragging it down.
It really is a joy to play The Drowning with its default, two-fingered control scheme, so much so that trying to play with the optional virtual thumbsticks is a complete letdown. Tap to move, swipe to turn, and when you want to shoot, tap to fingers on the screen on either side of your intended target. It starts off clumsy, but within two or three stages you get the hang.
That's great, because two or three stages at a time will be your limit, thanks to the free-to-play aspect of the game. There's a gas gauge that works as an energy meter, and once it's diminished you have to use a purchased gas can or wait it out.
This is a DeNA/Mobage game, after all, and even the most highly-polished Unity-powered affair is going to be stuffed with offers to collect rare weapons and equipment — it's what they do.
The game's goal is to survive and thrive in a post-apocalyptic world, where a strange oily substance has risen from the ocean and trasformed humanity into nightmare creatures. You've got to gather scrap to craft and upgrade weapons and unlock vehicles that allow travel to new areas.
I love the concept. I love the gameplay portion of the execution. What I don't like is being limited to how much I can play. I don't like getting to a stage and failing automatically because I don't have the right weapon, and then having to basically farm the stages I can tackle for the parts needed to build that weapon (note in the video I mention buying weapons — that's not how it works).
Here's a deeper look at the gameplay and mechanics of The Drowning.
Like I said, the gameplay in The Drowning is top-notch, perfect for FPS fans and newbies alike. If only the rest of the game were as user-friendly.
Genre: First-Person Shooter Developer: Scattered Entertainment Platforms: iOS, Android (Coming Soon) Price: Free