Flagged as one of the year’s biggest mobile titles, The Drowning certainly puts in a good show but won’t live up to everyone’s expectations. Developed by Scattered Entertainment and led by Battlefield producer Ben Cousins, there are definite signs of pedigree throughout, galvanised by a interesting mesh of systems, with an original story and setting. The game’s only main flaw rests within its foundations as a mobile shooter though this isn’t to say they can be overlooked entirely.
The Drowning kicks off in a rather ambiguous manner. You play as a lone survivor, just regaining consciousness as his rowing boats shuffles along the coast. Then, out of nowhere, he is ambushed by a pack of zombie-like creatures stalking in the polluted waters below. After a brief scrap and a few loosed bullets, you begin to explore the surrounding area, embarking on a survival adventure.
The world is seemingly in tatters and, after conversing with allies early in the game, you go about finding salvage in order to escape this gruesome pandemic known only as “The Black”.
It’s this scavenger hunt that forms the backbone of game experience. Instead of following a linear, stage-by-stage structure The Drowning is composed of re-playable shooting galleries which yield scrap and other trinkets. With these you can piece together a variety of weapons or upgrade your existing loadout. Progress comes from collecting the right salvage in order to build objective-focused items (such as a motorcycle) in order to unlock new stages.
It’s a solid system and one that borrows from various other mobile titles. For better or worse, The Drowning imposes an energy limit (represented by a fuel gauge) limiting the amount of levels you can play within a set time. There are also micro-transactions though these aren’t essentially, serving to speed up player progress.
Gameplay itself is exactly what you’d expect from a mobile or tablet shooter; though competent enough, it will still have players pining for a bluetooth gamepad. Unlike most studios however, Scattered Entertainment has at least tried to spawn an alternative control scheme.
This gesture-based system has players tapping points on the screen to navigate instead of using a virtual joystick. Shooting is also handled differently: using two fingers, players can tap anywhere on the screen, firing a shot directly between the two touch points. Though some will no doubt swear by this new gesture system, others (including myself) will find it cumbersome and opt for the conventional button overlay.
Each mission has its own Attack or Defend variation. In Attack players are let loose around the map, felling creatures and netting points via kills and combos. Defend is more or less the same though you’ll only have a limited, barricade area to explore, similar to Call of Duty’s popular Zombies mode. At the end of each round the points are counted and up to five stars are awarded based on performance. Each of these stars yields a piece of salvage with higher scores often unlocking rarer finds.
From the onset, The Drowning is bleak yet beautiful. Environments are coated in rich detail and enhanced by impressive lighting effects. Though enemies lack much visual diversity, their lumbering animations and oil-soaked form complement the world Scattered Entertainment has strived to create.
With an interesting setting, superb graphics, and plenty of longevity, for those who game exclusively on mobiles and tablets, The Drowning is absolutely perfect. However, the slightly grinding repetition and control issues may be enough to ward off console-native gamers. Whichever category you fall in to, it’s still a game that must be tried.
I’m taking it this is iOS only since I can’t find it on Google Play. Could you please start naming platforms and prices?
Not so bothered about prices but platform, yes please!
I have requested this before, such a simple thing to include. Annoying when you like the sound of the game from reading the article only to find its not available on android.
We actually have this functionality in place. It doesn’t show prices (as they’ll fluctuate), but if you look at the side of the article, all the other info is there. We just forgot to press the button :)
Awesome, I shall have to keep an eye out for that little box.
Yes! It’s there in landscape mode (normal Web browser version), but not in portrait mode, the normal mobile view ironically enough… I hope you can find a way to add it in the mobile stylesheet. It should be placed at the top, below the share-box.
It’s actually there on mobile view too, just below!
Oh, below the ad! Found it. Excuse me for sounding rude, but that’s an awful place to put it (as comments show). After the comments-section and an ad aimed at women no less. :-P (I wonder why all the ads on this site are aimed at women? I know you guys don’t choose them, but still.)
It’s not the best, yeah, but I think it’s the only option due to the way the mobile version works. It essentially just scales down, and puts that sidebar below the main article/comments, which are tied together.
It wouldn’t look quite right above the ad on the sidebar, would it?