Under the Waves Preview: When the creators of Detroit Become Human and White Night meet, sparks fly!

Under the Waves : quand les créateurs de Detroit Become Human et White Night se rencontrent, ça fait des étincelles !

Advance Beneath the Waves: When the creators of Detroit Become Human and White Night meet, the spark flies!

Not really riding the wave, Quantic Dream is also the publisher and financer of Parallel Studio’s new game. A title that responds to the name of Under the Waves and that, let’s say, is one of our favorites from Gamescom.

With Under the Waves, Quantic Dreams and Parallel Studio seem to have hit it off. In fact, the narrative game specialist is teaming up with a developer who loves “atmosphere” games and to whom we owe the amazing White Night in 2015, a true tribute to the roots of survival-horror. This new project is very different, either in terms of universe or gameplay. Get out of the haunted house, welcome to the depths of the sea…. and loneliness

Set in the 70s, somewhere in the North Sea, Under The Waves bets on an alternative history, with a slightly different past, where the technology is a little more advanced and the robots more developed. However, the “retro” aesthetic is still there, with a marked taste for cathode ray screens, rusty pipes and “beep-beep” on a green background.

An open and narrated underwater world

It is in this context that we play Stan, a professional diver employed by an oil company and who must join an underwater base. Therefore, we start by reaching a bathyscaphe before sinking into the depths of the North Sea, while staying in constant contact with a colleague named Tim. This is how we discover the gameplay of Under the Waves, based on exploration by diving, but also on foot. Parallell Studio has thus created a “small” open world that can be explored at your leisure, allowing you to delve a little deeper into the universe and the narrative, but without the shortcomings of the genre (no additional activities based on minigames) .

It will be possible, once at the bottom of the water, to walk on the ground, but at any time, the player will be able to press a button to switch to “swimming” mode and thus have much more freedom of movement. This allows for very free and very vertical exploration, as well as nice and intuitive handling, which is ultimately quite rare in a diving context. The half-hour demo asked us to join an underwater base, which will serve as our base throughout the adventure. We passed through somewhat dilapidated and dark underwater installations, opened some doors by means of huge valves, all with an absolutely enchanting soundscape in our ears. The underwater noises are very elaborate and the atmospheric soundtrack, although not thunderous, accompanied the action perfectly.

Beneath the Waves: When the creators of Detroit Become Human and White Night meet, the spark flies!

More Firewatch than Subnautica

In terms of setting, Parallel Studio seems to want to explore multiple tracks, often with an underlying message. First of all, there is an ecological aspect and we have the feeling that working for an oil company is not something insignificant. However, the developers wanted to keep this aspect in the background – but still present in the background – with, for example, the possibility of collecting, or not, your used oxygen cartridges in order to recycle them.

Beneath the Waves: When the creators of Detroit Become Human and White Night meet, the spark flies!

The other highlight in Under the Waves is the loneliness of the hero and his relationship with others. During our demo, we got a glimpse of the complex relationships between Stan and his wife, where the former leaves a message full of unspoken words to the latter. We feel a deep wound in the diver and the studio’s desire to dig deeper into human relationships, like the excellent Firewatch.

Beneath the Waves: When the creators of Detroit Become Human and White Night meet, the spark flies!

And the last point, which perhaps derives from the second, is the “psychological thriller” aspect of the adventure, highlighted by the incredible ending plan of the demo. The progression of Under the Waves is divided into days, so each day ends with Stan going to bed. Thus, the end of the demo showed us the protagonist going to bed, but waking up on a stretch of road, still underwater and facing a gigantic whale. Probably a dream, we think, but the fact that Stan doesn’t understand what he’s doing there casts doubt on the character’s sanity.

Beneath the Waves: When the creators of Detroit Become Human and White Night meet, the spark flies!

In short, this first contact with Bajo las Olas was able to seduce us with forceful shots, accurate dialogues and a most successful setting. A game to watch if you like diving, taciturn marines and red caps.

our impressions

Under the Waves is a title still full of mysteries, but the atmosphere that was generated during these 30 minutes of demo was enough to raise it among our highest expectations for the coming months. Undersea exploration game in a semi-open world, the Parallel Studio and Quantic Dreams title, however, has nothing to do with Subnautica or Abzu, but seems to be looking more from the Firewatch side than from the narrative side. His universe is, however, very much his own, set in the ucronic decade of the 70s, full of an obvious retro-futuristic charm. Now we hope to be just as hooked when the game launches next year, on PC, PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, and Xbox One.

editorial review

Promising

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