Back In The Water: Hydrophobia Prophecy

Seems more like philia to me.

Hydrophobia – a game with perhaps a bigger reputation for the antics of its developers than its own watery ways – is making the leap from 360 exclusive to PC and PSN. And with the state of PSN, that’s an exclusive for PC then. It’s to be called Hydrophobia Prophecy.

The game received a very broad spread of reviews when it first game out. As high as 9/10 from the enthusiastic Official Xbox Magazine, and as low as 3/10 from the surly-faced EDGE. Negative reviews were apparently sometimes met with a peculiar barrage of insults and accusations from developers Dark Energy Digital, which has somewhat become the game’s most famous aspect.

But that doesn’t temper the enthusiasm with which this PC conversion is being promoted. To be released on Steam, they explain that it’s a “comprehensive reinvention” of the game, rather than a port.

“[It] ncludes upgraded graphics, brand new gameplay mechanics, exclusive new levels, a reworked back story, a dramatic new ending, recast voice acting and much, much more. The long list of new features and enhancements is also augmented by changes Dark Energy have made in response to data gathered from the Hydrophobia Listening Post where players voted and commented on the features of Hydrophobia Pure.”

That’s an interesting list of fixes, bearing in mind they were the main themes mentioned in the reviews with which they were so angry. But good news, too.

The rather outspoken Pete Jones pushes it one stage further.

“We could’ve just ported Hydrophobia Pure over to Steam and PSN after the positive response it received, but we decided to go much further. The community really blew us away with the incredible response to Hydrophobia Pure and the outstanding level of feedback on the listening post, so we wanted to return the favour and ensure we created a bigger and better experience in every possible respect with Hydrophobia Prophecy for Steam and PSN.”

Of course, Pure was the 360’s remake that garnered improved scores, generally receiving 7s where once it was receiving 5s. So with another improvement on top of that one, in what their website is calling “the ultimate version of this phenominal action adventure”, Hydrophobia Prophecy could be the version we’ve been waiting for. It’s expected on Steam on the 9th May, and will likely cost around £8.

109 Comments

  1. skinlo says:

    I’m actually slightly interested in this, I want to see what the water physics is like.

    • Memphis-Ahn says:

      Same here. I actually watched a bit of a let’s play and it looked fun, but the player was so dumb I couldn’t bear going through with it.

    • wisnoskij says:

      I am also looking forward to this, I was disappointed when it only came out on the Xbox the first time.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Thanks guys, don’t forget to take advantage of the 15% pre-purchase discount on Steam if you do decide to get it :)

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Sorry, but if the developers insult everyone who doesn’t like it, that makes me hate everything they do, even if it is good. Social skills FAIL.

    • Urael says:

      Then that makes you a bit of a prat, BAReFOOt. I thought only Dwarves were supposed to keep a Book of Grudges?

  2. Rond says:

    We could’ve just ported Hydrophobia Pure over to Steam and PSN after the positive response it received, but we decided to go much further.

    You don’t port something to Steam and PSN, you port it to PC and PS3. Noob.

  3. McDan says:

    I bought this on the 360 (boo hiss) and it was very good for the price, which was about £5 I think in microsoft points. Very good indeed.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Thanks kindly! Hydrophobia Prophecy is superior is every way and has a much longer single player campaign, so I’m sure you’ll think it’s great value on Steam too :)

  4. Chizu says:

    I played the original game just after it came out, it was interesting enough, but more for its concept than its gameplay.
    I got fed up with it after about an hour and never bothered playing it again.

    Might give it another look on PC if its improvements are as big as implied.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Fair play. We really feel like this is a huge improvement for Steam, I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised if you do decide to take a look :)

    • Urael says:

      I’m pretty much in the same camp. I was very attracted to the main concept but almost entirely put off by the game’s reception and subsequent developer meltdown. I didn’t know about the Pure update, however, and if we’re going one better and the game is priced around the 10 quid mark then you may have a buyer.

  5. thegooseking says:

    [Insert obligatory pedantic “hydrophobia is a symptom of rabies; the word you’re looking for unusually takes the Latin rather than the Greek root to make ‘aquaphobia'” post here.]

    • Urthman says:

      The title means that if you criticize the game, the developers start foaming at the mouth.

    • JFS says:

      Also, it’s different in German, where an archaic rabies association does also exist, but the main meaning of hydrophobia here is what you call hydrophobicity, the property of chemical substances that are repelled by water.
      However, if the developers meant aquaphobia, then yes, it’s a little off.

  6. KauhuK says:

    Interesting. But even with all the improvements will it be good? The price is not bad but how many hours of content will there be? Questions. I’ll see about this game when it’s released.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Obviously it depends how you play it, but it’s about 40% longer than the original which was already really good value for money according to most of our feedback. It’s got loads of new levels, mechanics and a new ending to enjoys… we’re talking several hours of campaign here :)

  7. deabreu says:

    whoa, I remember this story. it was funny in a sad way… and it seems that they still didn’t grow up, trying to hype their game by lying

    • skinlo says:

      Where are they lying? They might be over exaggerating a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean lying.

    • bglamb says:

      Can you imagine what game hype would look like without unprovable, subjective comments? It’d be all that “Over 15 different levels!!!” shit.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Let me know where your issue is and I’ll be happy to clarifying any of the points that have been made :)

  8. bglamb says:

    I think the games press could be exaggerating a bit here. Granted that’s understandable since they are miffed at being moaned at by a developer, but let’s keep things in perspective.

    I’m sure it’s not the first time a developer has made a comment like “Have you even played it” to a writer who gave a bad review, and someone being a bit ‘pushy’ when they phone up a reviewer is pretty subjective.

    It’s not like the Hydrophobia team let loose a barrage of attacks and harassment, like is claimed in some articles. A couple of mild comments that could be easily seen as not to be taken seriously, and one mild and highly subjective phone-call is not a news story.

    • Ace Jon says:

      Did you even read the article? If you did, you must have read it the wrong way. An article has to be good to get published on ars technica, so: get it right.

    • bglamb says:

      Hehe, I see what you did there.

    • trjp says:

      If you create stuff and expect others to appreciate (and possibly pay for) it – there’s a GOLDEN rule in that you never EVER attack a reviewer.

      The only exception to this would be where a reviewer has said something clearly and demonstrably false – in which case you contact them and politely ask they correct it.

      It they don’t – and it’s a serious problem – then you might chase their editor, maybe – but only if it were something like claiming your epic RPG can be completed in 20 mins!!

      This being an XBLA title, you’d not expect quite the depth or attention a full 360 titles would get either – in fact that they’d spend 3+ years on an XBLA title astonishes me…

      Otherwise attacking reviewers is foolish – see this sanguine tale
      link to booksandpals.blogspot.com

    • bglamb says:

      Yeah, but there’s a difference between them taking a snipe at one reviewer and moaning on the phone to another and being able to claim that “the company’s strategy for fighting back is to attack the credibility of the sites that didn’t like the game, and borderline harass writers who speak out against it”.

      Mountains out of mole-hills.

      But that’s what you get when you’re ‘pushy’ in a phone conversation with a journo.

    • mwoody says:

      They publicly accused a game site of reviewing a game they didn’t play. Save for accusations of bribery, that’s the worst thing you can say about a reviewer.

      Fuck ’em. I don’t care about their crappy little game; there’s plenty else to occupy my time.

    • Urthman says:

      On the one hand is the rule that a developer always looks bad when they complain about reviews.

      On the other hand is the rule that it’s always OK to harass Jim Sterling.

      You might want to check my math, but Dark Energy Digital comes out even on this one according to my score sheet. I hope their new rabies-themed game is awesome.

    • mwoody says:

      Hrm. Alright, you definitely have a point.

  9. Nogo says:

    That’s one of the most awkward, head-in-the-sand press releases ever.

  10. trjp says:

    They got the launch of this game WAY WAY wrong – the fact they can’t admit to that and instead attack people suggests they’re best ignored…

    The 360 original claimed revolutionary water physics and combat system – the original 360 demo was super-short and featured only a puddle of water (a pretty puddle – but still just a puddle), no combat whatsoever and some rather poor platforming (and how easy it was to get lost).

    Then they come along with the ‘fixed’ version – the version they’d have released in the first place if they’d had the remotest sense/been able to deliver it on time – the version which clearly ensured people ‘played it right’ – why should anyone care by that time???

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Fair criticism. We’ve already admitted we got it wrong first time around and tried to fix it as best we could with the Pure patch. We got a positive reaction to that and could have just released Pure on Steam and PSN but we thought we owed it to all the gamers who stood by us and provided constructive feedback to go much further. Hopefully people will appreciate that once they play Prophecy :)

  11. RegisteredUser says:

    So it’s an interactive swimsuit calendar?

  12. Ertard says:

    Jesus fucking christ. PR people aren’t THAT expensive to hire you know, and you could’ve saved yourself from looking like a complete asses. Just get some media training, or you know, common sense.

    Regarding the game I’m slightly interested, I guess, but more interested in how you can be so incredibly inept at running a company in the 21st century that you don’t hire PR people.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Fair point dude. We’re obviously a small independent studio and now doubt we made some mistakes. But we’re also proud of the way we’ve listened to gamers and the game we’ve now produced with Prophecy :)

    • Urael says:

      Ertard: that DarkEnergy is on RPS and interacting with even your childish level of toddler-dummy-throwing commentary with nothing but a smile and positive civility should speak volumes to you about lessons having been learned re: PR.

      And if you’re going to profane the big man’s name, at least throw in a ‘tittyfucking’. That’s always good for a chuckle. :)

    • Thants says:

      I don’t think that too few PR people is really the biggest problem in gaming.

  13. Diziet Sma says:

    After it received the first set of patches on the 360 I retried the demo and purchased. They mostly addressed frustrations with the control scheme. I enjoyed the game, although I purchased and started playing it whilst Magicka was such a pain in the arse to get consistent MP on.

    All in all it’s worth a go although it I hope it comes with a demo on the PC as it should be tried before buying.

  14. QuantaCat says:

    Wow, one of the few games with a female heroine that doesnt have DD size cups, if cups at all.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Is the heroine actually a floating head, as shown in the image?

    • Uglycat says:

      It’s Morte!

    • QuantaCat says:

      I wish. but there are screens on the website.

    • magnus says:

      The start of a new genre perhaps Female Floating Head games? Then there the FFHFPS/FFHFPSRPG/ FFHFPSRPGMMO cross-overs.

    • Urael says:

      On RPS maybe but have a look at the main site. We’re so close to her figure that the main parts of her body you can see are, yep, her [clothed] lady-bumps and what Doctors like to call her [clothed] Mons Pubis.

      link to hydrophobia-game.com

      Slightly better than most but still slanted toward female exhibitionism. The acid test: would we see this pose from a male character? His great male pant bulge greeting people as they read about the “New Climbing Combat system”?

      I suspect not.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      We tried to avoid the usual cliche of a beautiful but deadly female lead with big boobs and a backflip to match… hopefully it makes for a refreshing experience :)

    • Urael says:

      Don’t get me wrong, DarkEnergy; it’s a good effort, pleasingly more subtle than most modern ‘woman as star attraction’ efforts (and I have to say it’s still laudable that you’ve chosen a female lead, although a touch tragic we’re still having to single out these decisions for praise after 30 years of gaming) but we’re still falling under the bar that Beyond Good and Evil set so magnificently high for their female lead nearly a decade ago.

      You did try, though. That’s clear and welcomed.

  15. Vagrant says:

    I played after the ‘Pure’ patch and rather enjoyed it, but the whole time I was thinking the PC would fix all my complaints (framerate, aiming and visual fidelity issues).

    There is one exception to that: hopefully this time they’ll add in and ending.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed Pure, and the PC version will indeed fix a whole truck load of issues and add a tonne more – including an all new ending as you say!

    • Tams80 says:

      “… and add a tonne more” content.

      Ahhh, that’s better.

      I’ll probably buy it, let it mature on Steam for a few years and then play it. Just like every other Steam game I’ve bought.

  16. gallardo1 says:

    It may sounds arrogant but indeed reviewers can play the game wrong as well as players.
    Obviously developers have to explain their choices inside the game, but sometimes it’s difficult, expecially if you try a new mechanic or an old playstyle, that the masses are not used of.
    I can take Bulletstorm as an example or the health mechanic of halo versus the health mechanic of doom. Things seem wrong in relation to play habit, but in the end I agree that only the developers should have done more or better.

    What I cannot stand for is the tone of certain press and reviewers (like Jim Sterling) that are allowed to piss on developers heads without the cortesy of calling it rain.
    In my opinion you have to remain fair and moderated even if you dislike the game (like RPS), give it a 2 and that’s all, even because nowadays numbers are valued more than words.

  17. ulix says:

    This reminds me:

    I so want another Wave Race for the Nintendo Cafe! Please, Nintendo….

    (and F-Zero, and 1080… don’t know why Nintendo has only ported one of its successful racing series to Wii)

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Agreed. Wave Race = awesome!

    • Rii says:

      I’m not sure I’d want to see a ‘Wii’ take on F-Zero.

      But yes, Wave Race and F-Zero for Project Cafe. And Pilotwings. And a real Starfox game. People complain about Nintendo forever mining their back catalogue but if only they actually would!

      Make it happen Nintendo.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Agreed. Can’t wait for E3, love new hardware E3’s esspecially when Nintendo throw a curve ball

  18. WJonathan says:

    Isn’t that the opening scene to Bioshock?

  19. BrendanJB says:

    I’m not giving any money to developers who tell players they are doing it wrong, get angry at bad reviews, try to bribe people for good scores, then turn around and re-release the game FIXING all the fucking issues people had with it that they denied, only to talk about “…the positive response [their game] received…”.

    Seriously. Heads up their own asses.

    No love to ignorant, lying fucks like that.

    • skinlo says:

      Its comments like this that irritate me more than any developer not liking a review. Grow up, using swearwords and name calling is not big and not clever. It just makes you look like an idiot.
      The game has had a moderately positive response, at least the pure version.

  20. DarkEnergy says:

    Seems I got to this party a bit late. If there are any other questions you’d like me to answer regarding the game or Darknet please let me know :)

    • Urael says:

      I have a small one: if you’re lucky enough to have a Games for Windows version of the X-Box controller, and I have said device plugged in but want to use mouse and keyboard, do I still have to suffer on-screen hints coming at me in gamepad format or is this selectable in the game settings?

      …wait, a more basic question: Mouse and Keyboard supported?

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Yes both mouse and keyboard and controller are supported on the Steam version and all the in game prompts will show the correct icons depending on which you are using :)

    • Urael says:

      Fantastic. That puts you above Batman: Arkham Asylum in my eyes. When does the pre-order go up on Steam? I’d buy the game now if I could. :)

    • DarkEnergy says:

      I think the pre-purchase is supposed to go up today… let me see if I can find out :)

    • Kefren says:

      Will it be available on GamersGate (or GOG)? Not all of us gamers use Steam.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Steam only for now I’m afraid

    • Kefren says:

      Okay. I’ll keep an eye out for it if it ever does turn up on another low-DRM system.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Regarding the pre-purchase and store page, I’m told it will indeed be going live in the next few hours. :)

  21. Urael says:

    Here’s the youtube link showing off the big Pure update that preceded this one. That’s an impressive clutch of updates….

    link to youtube.com

    Ok, yes, a bit excited for this one now! I’m a big fan of games with water as a main feature (unlike, say, Bioshock where despite the game’s setting it very rarely acted as anything other than an atmospheric effect or something to electrify enemies in)

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Good stuff! We’ve made the water even better for PC given the extra grunt we had to play with, hope you enjoy :)

    • skinlo says:

      That does look like fun! The water is pretty cool, I take it its not full fluid simulations though, its somehow mocked up to appear like water (I have no idea).

      I know RealFlow does full ‘proper’ fluid simulations, but that makes hours/days to render 100 frames or something.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      It’s a real physics simulation of water which flows from one area to another and carries objects in the flow completely realistically… we’re very fortunate to have an R&D Director with a PhD in AtsroPhysics who has cracked a unique set of equations to make it possible. I think you’ll be impressed :)

    • skinlo says:

      Fair play then, sounds good! :)

    • Rii says:

      I is intrigued. If there’s no trailer for this new version yet, the one for Pure should probably make its way into the article to give folks such as I who’re not already familiar with the ways of the game an introduction.

      @Urael: I totally agree with you re: Bioshock. It’s just one of the many respects in which Bioshock 2 improved upon its predecessor and that critics for the most part singularly failed to note. Mind you, there’s still room for improvement.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      There will be a Prophecy trailer very soon, so I’ll make sure it finds its way here when released :)

    • Rii says:

      Awesome, I’ll keep an eye out. ^ ^

  22. bglamb says:

    I never realised before today that Dark Energy were such big contributors to the RPS comments.

    • skinlo says:

      Sarcasm?

      Can’t tell.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Haha fair point! Well… since this is our first Steam release we though it would be a good time to come on and answer any questions that people have, but yes we are indeed what you might call a Newb ;)

    • bglamb says:

      Nothing wrong with being a newbie. And nothing wrong with deciding to spam some positive PR :)

      Just remember to leave some space for the real commenters.

    • Urael says:

      “Just remember to leave some space for the real commenters.”

      :D What does that even mean?

    • Tams80 says:

      It means don’t fill the first page with PR. Ugghh! DarkEnergy haven’t even made a comment though, only replied, so I think we’ll be fine.

  23. ZIGS says:

    When porting the game to PC, I hope you guys take in consideration things like the field of view, mouse acceleration (don’t use any!) and the interface. These are usually factors that ruin PC ports, even if the game itself is good. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Yep we’ve absolutely taken those things into account – remember this isn’t just a port. No mouse acceleration as you say, and all interfaces and menus have been adapted specifically to work for PC. We do also support controller if you are that way inclined and you’ll get the correct contextual prompts and icons depending on choice.

  24. Rii says:

    I’m not familiar with this particular saga, but I generally support the game-developers-as-human-beings-rather-than-carefully-managed-corporate-PR-mouthpieces thing, even if the result illustrates precisely why those instruments of banality exist. After all, would anyone *really* want to live in a world without Derek Smart?

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Appreciated :) This is precisely why we have introduced Darknet into the Steam version (a contextual developer feedback system accessible from the pause menu which allows you to give us your opinion on particular areas of the game at any time should you wish). With the advantages of Steam i.e. quick and regular updates we plan to build a close two way relationship with players and support your involvement in the dev process if you wish to provide it :)

  25. Lusit says:

    Are we going to have the choice to have the story features from Hydrophobia, Pure, and Prophecy? Because that would be ace.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      Not exactly sure what you mean??

    • Lusit says:

      There are some pretty big story changes (From what I can tell) from Vanilla to Pure and then to Prophecy. Will we be able to pick what version of the story we want to play through? That could potentially increase replay value and interest in it from me, even if vanilla is blatantly lower quality than Pure or Prophecy or whatever.

  26. matrices says:

    Hey guys,
    Please observe me as I smugly shit all over this indie developer for slightly overreacting to press criticism of one of their creations.

    Thankfully we all know that far worse infractions are never committed by the big dogs who charge $59.99 for every deposit of manure they release (now with $50 optional day-one DLC!).

    Christ, lighten the fuck up. Some of you guys are approaching Shacknews-commenter level of bitchiness.

    Signed,
    Former news reporter

  27. enshak says:

    Not up on steam yet. Is the ship more Bioshock where you only see part of the city, or System Shock 2 where you can go back and forth over the whole ship, and more importantly does it have working toilets with backwash.

    • DarkEnergy says:

      The Steam page is going up very soon apparently. The ship is city-sized so you don’t see all of it but you get see a huge variety of environments.

    • enshak says:

      Thanks for the reply. It’s a sale from me as i had interest in this before it became a xbox exclusive. I prefer the shock 2 design thought as it is more immersive to me.

  28. Ilinx says:

    So, with the recast voice acting, does that mean the ‘Scottish’ chappie has actually visited Scotland this time? ;)

  29. Targaff says:

    Huh, it really does say the game is “phenominal” on the website. I hope a spellchecker is one of the improvements…

  30. ZIGS says:

    Will we see Dark Energy’s future games on PC at the same time as on the consoles?

  31. Angel Dust says:

    A question for those of you who have played the game (and sorry, that doesn’t include you, DarkEnergy :P): what is the story is like? I’m not expecting anything brilliant or original but is it at least solidly written and the characters reasonably engaging? I’m probably going to pick this up anyway but a solid narrative would make it a certainty.

  32. DarkEnergy says:

    Morning all (if you’re in the UK like us that is). Just wanted to let you know the Steam store page is now live and you can view the official trailer there too:

    link to store.steampowered.com

    • Urael says:

      Interesting….a dumb ‘look at me’ trailer like the first ones that came out. Considering how long the game has been out, and the different versions of it on the Xbox, in the context of that the trailer is something of a disappointment. It does nothing to explain the hard work you’ve done porting the game across, the changes you’ve made to this new version or even hints at what you did for Pure. It’s a trailer solely (nearly wrote ‘purely’, lol) for people who have never heard of your game, which is an interesting choice given that you’ve invested considerable effort on this page touting it’s PC-friendly design and ‘extra grunt’.

      In my opinion you should make more of your hard work bringing the game to our beloved PCs, and the upgrades you’ve been able to make as a consequence – that will flatter more wallets open than the current rather bland teaser, I think.

      Still, game pre-ordered. Bring on the 9th of May! :)

    • DarkEnergy says:

      A fair point, although for people who played the original they will notice that almost every scene in the trailer is new. Still I’ll have a chat with the guys here and perhaps another video along the lines you suggest if we have the time :)

    • Urael says:

      Heh. Don’t worry, DE, we’ll keep you right! ;)

      Personally, I want this game to do well because the concept is interesting, the tech is fascinating, and your commitment as developers should be rewarded, as should your ability to hold your hands up and openly admit your mistakes. I’ve been more active on this thread than most for all of these reasons.

      Like a few titles recently Hydrophobia suffered a difficult birth and struggled to show its potential; anything we can do to help make the next project an easier and more satisfying experience for all concerned is well worth doing, assuming of course the next project is as fascinating and engaging as this one looks to be.

      As I’ve now pre-ordered I’ll leave you to the tender mercies of my fellow RPS commenters and await the go-live date. Best of luck.

    • aerozol says:

      Since popping it up on the steam page is their chance to attract new customers, I’d say a ‘look at me’ trailer is probably a good way to go. Although strangely I found it much less interesting than some of the early Youtube footage linked to (eg the trailer wasn’t that good. My (very) amateur analysis is that you tried to make it seem ‘epic’ without introducing the story/ struggle that would make it epic to us. If you don’t have that, showing clearer sections of interesting gameplay may have bee na better move. Just an opinion)
      But a mention that it’s the 3rd large revision/ version of the game somewhere is important… Because that’s pretty damn impressive! The thing that’s made me take notice at all in fact.

  33. Urael says:

    [Can we have a ‘delete own comment’ function, RPS?]

  34. sk2k says:

    I was hoping for a more puzzle orientated game. The trailer shows only action.

  35. DarkEnergy says:

    Yep another fair point. There are a lot of puzzle aspects to the game too, esspecially physics based puzzles. I’ll give a few examples of the kind of thing you can do:

    – Hack into CCTV networks and switch between camers, even remotely open door from CCTV cameras to release water

    – Remotely open doors using a first person flexible screen MAVI device to release the water

    – Use water to extinguish fires, carry objects from one area to another or electrocute enemies from afar

    – Grab an manipulate buoyant objects to lift up blockages and clear a path

    – Hack into various systems via the MAVI

    – Shot electric cables at any point so they swing down and electrocute water or enemies

    Hope that helps :)

  36. sk2k says:

    You really want to sell your game? :) I suck at action games that’s why i prefer games with not sooo much action.

    Edit: Will preorder or buy it at a later point.

  37. Thermal Ions says:

    Looks a little interesting and it sounds like the Dev’s have mellowed a bit and trying to connect better. Given the number of unfinished games on my steam list, this will have to wait for the RPS review to come in – the 15% being neither here nor there given it’s reasonable non discounted price.