Debris, the brain child of Moonray Studios – Debris brings to life a survival based underwater adventure, your videography team is on a deep dive mission to document a new source of alien energy from a special meteor locked in arctic ice. As always a corporation with questionable motives is behind the studies, and after a giant explosion your team is separated and trapped beneath the ice and forced to overcome limited power resources and maniacal fish.
Initially launched with just the single player game mode, you play as Ryan, a somewhat cynical documentarian. Linking up with your friendly neighbourhood “Squid ROV” remotely piloted by Sonya you’re entrusted to find your way out and return with help to free immobile and trapped companions. The co-op mode adds an option to have a friend play as Sonya and as the ROV is the only source of light and power from harvesting debris, you must “escape together or die alone”
It’s a pretty cool premise, I’ll give them that, but everyone knows that underwater levels are always the worst, and Debris suffers with many similar draw backs to being subaquatic that we’ve all seen before. Sluggish controls compounded by inadequate lighting make navigation a chore. Considering I’m in some kind of super high tech suit, impervious to pressure, life support system and thrusters for mobility, I’d really like to swim a bit faster.
Debris plays similar to a walking simulator; you’ve got a linear path to follow and sometimes shit happens and gets in your way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if done right, give the player some sense of freedom in map design, a compelling story and build up suspense early on and you’re going to have a good time. However, poor controls and an AI hell bent of leaving you in the dark subtract from anything redeeming.
Turning our focus to the co-op multiplayer game mode for a moment, this really seems to be what the game was designed for. Truly having to work together to farm energy and carve a path through tunnels and fish hell bent on robbing you of your power. Only Ryan is in possession of any offensive attributes to ward off any brave aquatic life heading for the ROV and only the squid is able to harvest energy from debris. External voice chat is definitely required if you want to actually make much progress, a built in voice service would have been nice but hey, we all have a discord server by now so no biggie. At least in co-op you can yell at your buddy to slow the fuck down so you can still see, single player mode the AI has a tendency to take off and disappear down a tunnel leaving you blind.
Should you buy it? With an asking price of $24.79, Debris is hard to recommend. With only two game modes and what I would say is limited replayability. I think what they were trying to achieve in bringing to light a serious mental health issue such as psychosis is a brilliant idea to incorporate into a game, however some of the game play aspects just distracted from the overall experience. The premise and voice acting is great, just misses the mark in mechanics, controls and AI direction. You also never really feel like you’re in any danger, power levels never end up dropping too low as you’re fed with every opportunity to recharge. I think this really could have been something cool, but seen as this is a full release title it’s hard to justify for the cost.