Narcosis Reminds Us to Fear the Unknown


If there was ever a game that proved off-site indie events during the Electronic Entertainment Expo are worth going to, it’s Narcosis. Ted Hentschke got a chance to meet the development team last year at E3 2015, and this year (luckily) it was my turn. For those of you unaware, Narcosis is a deep sea, virtual reality, exploration game that uses the fear of the unknown at the bottom of the ocean to really thrill you.


In Narcosis you play as a diver encased in a lumbering, impenetrable dive suit. It’s the only thing keeping you alive in the crushing depths, but also serves as your walking coffin. Oxygen is steadily used up as you breathe in your suit, and tense situations make your breathing more rapid. You can tell when your breathing has been accelerated by sound, but also visually by looking at your breath on the inside of your mask. The HUD on the inside of the suit shows more specifically what percentage of oxygen you have left. Not only that, but the HUD and mask really give you that sense of entrapment, especially in VR.

My point of contact at E3 this year was David Chen from the development team, Honor Code Inc. He explained to me that Narcosis is more of a subtle slow burn. It’s not jump scare oriented, and there aren’t really “monsters” per say in the game. You do run into creatures on the bottom of the sea, but they’re not the scariest thing. Not knowing when you might run out of oxygen and suffocate in your suit is horrifying. And the unknown is the real thrill in Narcosis. You’re thrown in the middle of one of Earth’s most unexplored territories, the deep sea. It’s impossible to know what is around the next corner, and that’s what’s really frightening.

While you’re exploring, your character will speak to himself, filling you in on the plot as you go along. There will be a small amount of combat in the game. I experienced only a few instances in my playtime. So you’ll have to fend off the occasional sea creature, but it won’t be a majority of your time spent. The game takes place both on the natural ocean floor, as well as in flooded research facilities. Exploration, keeping your oxygen level stable, and searching for a way to escape to the surface are the essentials of Narcosis.

In virtual reality, Narcosis was gorgeous. The environments all have a dark and dingy look to them, making even the most innocuous of hallways spooky. Small details like papers floating through the water really make Narcosis enjoyable. While I played it on Oculus, David did explain that Narcosis was initially a non-VR game. The development of the game happened to coincide with the advent of the current VR craze, and Honor Code Inc. realized they had the perfect title on their hands.

Narcosis is headed for a fall 2016 release, on Oculus for VR users, and Steam for those who aren’t. There are hopes to adapt Narcosis for the Vive in the future, but there are no plans currently in place for the small development team at Honor Code Inc. How do you feel about Narcosis? Ready to take a dive into the deep blue sea to fight for your life?





Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter