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Impressions: Depth Hunter Demo

Depth Hunter's a Fisht Piercing Shooter, if you'll allow me to be so dreadfully mean to the English language: you're a diver in the not-so-competitive world of spear fishing. That means you take deeeeeeep breath (why not interactively take part in the blog post by holding your breath?) and plunge into the azure waters looking (still holding your breath?) for fish to spike with your harpoon (now find a nearby body of water to dive into, like a lake or a spill in the nearest public lavatory). No air tanks: just you, your mask, your spear and what's in your lungs.

The demo is up on Desura, and it's worth playing. The life of a spear hunter is simple, relaxing: swimming calmly through lagoons, full of flecks of matter glimmering in the god rays, you're on the hunt for fish. The underwater world is alive with potential poisson, from darting schools to lazy, slow rays. You feel heavy but buoyant, movement is lovely and floaty, and the slow speed of underwater life means you drift through the scenery, mind empty of anything but the patterns of the fish and pondering where fish fingers come from. The fish flit along the coral and rocks, targets for your pointy vengeance. Er, I liked to pretend they killed my uncle, otherwise I'm just a jerk with a speargun maiming fish in front of their families.

The harpooning is not as successfully captured as the lagoon. It's easy enough to spear one, but ratcheting in a spiked pike is confusing: when you've rodded a cod, there's an odd little mini-game you play against the tautness of the wire and the pull of the fish that I found baffling. I managed to get one fish fully caught because it was relatively close to the diver, but anything over 10 metres away seems to be able to wriggle free of my dart and left me shouting bubbly curses at the nearby anemones.

You might think that's a big problem, but I actually resent having to do anything in this sort of environment so I wasn't too fussed about being unable to fathom the odd system. It's fun to just watch as the fish gather around coral, nibbling at it, darting off when you get too close. There's a photography mode for Pacific pacifists, and I took time out to just explore and snap some snappers with my camera. There's a freeplay option greyed out in the demo's menu, which I'd hope would take care of my adventurous streak, but I can't vouch for that.

The full game is full to the gills with sharks and shipwrecks, and if it was a tad cheaper I'd have already bought it. But I'll wait for a bigger sail. Sail? Get it? Now consider this open-season on comment puns.

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Depth Hunter is out now.

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