OÐR: The Sunken Flesh

ÓÐR: The Sunken Flesh is a adventure stealth game with horror elements, set in a submerged world inhabited by ghosts.

You probably played a game with such gameplay in the past: You have no offensive weapons, very limited resources, and strong enemies whose limited sight is identifiable to the player. Evade them, get items, enter new regions. Some areas are fully underwater, and you’ll sacrifice oxygen (which is at the same time your HP) if you want to salvage their secrets. Alarming enemies will make them search and attack you; you can hardly escape then; getting caught is no instant death, but it is – especially at the beginning of the game – heavily punished.

The story is about a village that was flooded by industrial waste, with their inhabitants resisting to change their way of life – dying down there. Attempts are done to clean up the mess using cheap manual labor: Your job is to go in – threatened not only by the environmental hazards, but also by the ghosts of the villagers (and/or your colleagues?). Your target is to come out alive.

The level is labyrinthine, with various doors or objects that need you to find items at latter places and backtrack when you have them. Additionally, your sight is limited; only a small cone is lighted – outside of it, objects and barriers are either hard to see or fully invisible – all of this is making orientation hard, and causes a feeling somewhere between clandestine and claustrophobic. Orienting yourself is difficult, and one is likely to become lost, especially at the beginning. The world consists of old everyday objects, mud, water, and nostalgic looking yet fantastic diving paraphernalia. Parts of the inherent geometry of the world do seem shifted or bizarre, increasing the perceived strangeness.

The difficulty is – especially in early game – high. the enemies are strong, health and save points are rare, and the combination of limited time you can spent under water (since it will cost you the limited and non-regenerating O2) along with the opaque level design will make some try and error necessary at the beginning. But this actually adds to the heavy, dismal atmosphere.

Art style and audio design (including music) are dense, fitting and coherent. The game was made by a small team in the course of a month working on a fitting concept that they had in mind beforehand. As a result, the game is unusual well developed and produced when compared to an average jam entry. Yet it is still in active development, and the developers claim that they plan to do further polishing on it. I earnestly hope that they don’t overdo it: Grinding on the wrong places might remove to much in this case. The combination of hostility, strangeness and angularity is very unique and fun, and it would be great if some of the latter would make it into the final thing. That is to be said: The game is – at least as far as I made it last night – already fully playable and well worth to check out. The scope of the current game is large, it feels feature complete, and I didn’t encounter anything that could count as a bug.

The game was made with the GameMaker, and worked without any problems on my OpenSuse using Wine. A game controller is supported and heavily recommended.

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