IGM at EGX 2015: Iron Fish Preview

Just when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to go to EGX, I found myself in a three-hour queue to play Star Wars: Battlefront. Despite being worth every second – and it really was – I left myself little time for all of the indie titles on display. Don’t worry, a few laps of Rezzed and the Indie Megabooth later, and I was deep in an ocean of indies. Then I swam a little deeper and found Iron Fish, a “psychological deep-sea thriller” being developed by BeefJack Studios and Dean Edwards.


In Iron Fish, gamers will step into the scuba flippers of Cerys, a deep-sea investigator working for an elite British Naval group, as she responds to a mayday call. What follows is a journey into the unexplored, where Cerys will face the harsh realities of the ocean – an ocean that hides many creatures living in its depths, and a few of Cerys’ own secrets, too.


The section of the game I played was quite early on, and gameplay was focused more on exploration than horror, which apparently becomes more intense as players progress. After a quick guide of how to play, I was given control of a deep-sea submarine, and began piloting it towards an objective marker in the distance. I found myself speeding along underneath a whale of some kind, which was pretty nice.


When I reached the objective, though, and I had to depart the safety of my nifty sub, I was at the mercy of circling sharks. Despite this being a less horror-driven portion of the game, I was still quite tense as I watched the sharks getting closer. I can’t have been the only one. With a little direction from a companion, who I assume was safe and dry above water, I headed for cover. I’d be lying if I said that the sharks didn’t get a few good bites in first. Sorry, Cerys…


While doing my best to avoid being bitten again, I swam around a number of shipwrecks and containers, searching for items with a scanner. Some of these items were part of the objective, and for others, interaction seemed entirely optional. Either way, it sometimes involved swimming through unexplained body parts. I’m not sure if anything is worth that.


Before long, I died, and made the most of it by having a quick chat with Edwards. He said that Iron Fish can actually be played through in around two hours, if someone only wants the bare bones of the narrative. However, the game could be much longer if players take the time to collect the optional items – such as data recordings – which provide insight into Cerys’s backstory and leave gamers with a much deeper experience.


To ensure that gamers get the best version of this experience, though, there’s a couple of small improvements that I think could be made before a full release.


For starters, Cerys seems to swim quite slowly. When exploring the wide-open, relaxing areas of the ocean and sunken ships, this isn’t such a problem, but when a shark (or two) is coming in for the kill, the pace of Cerys’ swimming seems almost leisurely. Being able to swim a little faster in these moments would have made sense, and maybe even add a bit of fast-paced terror to the occasion. Combine this with that the fact that swimming occasionally causes the water in front of you to blur, and it seems like the sharks may have had a few easy meals at EGX. Not me, though: I ran out of oxygen while wading through body parts at the bottom of a shipwreck. Ryan, 1. Sharks, 0.


Iron Fish may be in early development, but it seems to be aiming for a similar experience to Frictional Games’ SOMA; undersea exploration that brings moments of discovery, fear, and even beauty. If any of those things sound like something you’d enjoy, it just might be worth keeping your periscope on this one. It will be released on PC, Mac and Linux, although no firm release date has yet been confirmed. In the meantime, why not get in touch on their Twitter and Facebook, or even head to the game’s Steam page for more information.

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