It just so happens that it’s Shark Week, and therefore I feel that this is the perfect time to discuss Shark Attack Deathmatch 2, a fun, locally-made indie game currently in Steam’s Early Access.
Sleeping with the fishes
It’s an intriguing concept: take a few divers, throw them into the ocean and let them duke it out with one another while assorted sharks lurk in the deep. The game is somewhat reminiscent of Descent and other six-degrees-of-freedom shooters; players move about in all directions without worrying about gravity and falling damage.
Shark Attack Deathmatch 2 (henceforth referred to as SAD2) throws a curveball to players by rendering goggles in their field of view and deliberately making the playing field murky. The limited vision helps to capture the underwater theme excellently and goes very far in maintaining a feeling of uncertainty and dread. More so than many other games, being aware of your surroundings at all times is crucial and considerably more difficult. It’s overall not that dissimilar to Depth, but it’s truer to traditional deathmatch and more realistic-looking.
Water under the bridge
Upon starting, players are equipped with a knife and a slow-firing harpoon gun, but exploring the maps will allow you to access additional weapons such as flash grenades and a rapid-fire harpoon gun. Ammo crates are scattered throughout, as well as health kits and oxygen tanks. That’s right: you need to regularly refill your oxygen supply because surfacing is not an option. Fortunately, it’s handled very well and provides additional challenge without becoming annoying. It also keeps the game flowing and pretty much renders camping unfeasible.
Players can choose to indulge in the standard murdering spree where everything – man and marine – is fair game. If you’re feeling more amicable, you can rather team up with your mates and take on the local fauna together. For the most anti-social of you out there, there’s also a single-player survival mode if you’re feeling brave, lucky or you have a death wish.
SAD2′s biggest strengths lie in its beautifully-rendered environments and the slow-paced, paranoia-inducing gameplay that encourages stealth. The handful of maps are especially well-crafted and invite players to make use of hiding spots and think in three-dimensional terms. The strongest of the bunch is a map resembling a ruined, submerged New York, complete with abandoned buildings to hide in.
It’s a fun experience and it certainly kept my friends and I amused for a few hours, but we all agreed that it definitely needs more content. It’s in Early Access and it shows: gameplay mechanics are still very simplistic and lacking in refinement. It’s certainly on the right track and it succeeds at reeling players in – it just needs to focus more on maintaining that interest. More maps, more weapons, more modes and more ways to hunt and kill will go a long way to making this another showcase of local talent.
The menu teases players with a few grayed-out options, hinting at the developer’s future plans: one such mode suggests players will be able to take on the role of sharks, perhaps giving the game a tantalizing 4-versus-1 angle. We’ll just have to wait and see, and I’m certainly excited as to what Lighthouse Games Studio might be bringing to the table in future.
Swim on over to its Steam page here and be sure to net yourself a copy.