Tidal Shock, slaughter underwater – First Sip Review
Tidal Shock is an underwater arena shooter. Both developed and published by Moonray Studios. Tidal Shock is their second game on Steam, the first being Debris which also took place underwater. However, the genre and style of each game are quite different proving that Moonray are no one-trick pony (or seahorse).
Starting off as normal with the Story of the game. Well, there isn’t one. Much like Tools Up! or most any other arena shooter game, there is no story getting in the way of your gameplay. You can put a costume on your character, boot up a match with friends or strangers. And that’s it, you’re in the game, you compete, the match ends you try again. So once again rather than the story here I am looking more at the concept. And the concept is pretty cool.
Essentially the game takes place completely underwater. Beyond that it’s just a standard arena shooter really, but the underwater aspect really adds a lot to it. So just as a basic concept I’d say that submerging an arena shooter into an aquatic setting is interesting enough to warrant further investigation.
Tidal Shock uses an art style that has become fairly popular due to the success of games like Fortnite, Dauntless, Darwin Project, and upcoming titles like Quantum League. Which is to say, a mixture of cartoon and realism. Essentially character models have realistic proportions but bright smooth colors and designs. There is a crashed ship underwater but it’s not a pirate ship. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of booty to be found in the game. Which brings me back to the character models. Because mostly you’ll see your character from behind as the game is third-person. And that’s far from a bad thing…because you can position yourself better that way.
Getting back to the level design, I mentioned that there is a sunken ship. There are a number of other landmarks to be found in the sunken battleground as well. And honestly, while the game is supposed to be around collecting energy and shooting your enemies I had just as much fun, possibly even more (because I’m not good at shooting games) exploring the depths.
As well as the landmarks the game also has an interesting lighting scheme. Each area will glow with a distinct color. Not only does this look really great it also serves a logistical function because you can navigate via color and landmark.
The developers have put in a number of fun costumes so far and they all look really great.
Sound is an important factor in an arena shooter. And Moonray Studios seem to be well aware of this fact. Despite the fact that sound probably wouldn’t travel well underwater the developers have wisely accepted that their game is not supposed to be realistic. I mean how many times has a diver in corgi costume shot another diver dressed like the Kraken only for them to respawn and gain revenge? I’d wager that is not at all a common thing. So with that in mind, the developers have worked on a crisp sound-design that is best experienced with headphones. That way you can hear the hum of a torpedo and know roughly where to look to find it. And the same goes for gunfire too.
There is some fun music on the menu screen but not really in the game. However, that goes back to the above point about the sound design helping you locate other players. You also get some lovely underwater bubble sounds that occur when you move. Especially when you boost around quickly you can hear the water rushing past you. And then picking up items will give you a little acknowledgment sound that is somewhat bright and fun like the visuals.
There is a fairly consistent trend in a lot of games. And that trend is that even amazing games will have one weak level, which more often than not is the underwater level. But Moonray Studios aren’t the kind of team that would be scared off by this. Rather they have set both their games in the briny deep. So how does it fare? Well, after playing a few hours I’d have to say they have managed to make some of the silkiest smoothest gameplay around. But more on that later.
Currently the game has one gameplay mode. The goal is not to be the last standing (swimming?) but rather to collect enough energy to power the reactor. So what is the point in killing enemies if it doesn’t win the game? Well, when you die or kill an enemy the defeated player will drop their items. So not only do you stop them from putting their energy in the reactor but you also gain the chance to pick up their energy and use it for yourself. So wouldn’t this make camping not only a valid tactic but an overpowered one? Well, they thought about that too and that’s why the reactor location moves every 60 seconds and is randomized.
Various guns can be found under the water, just floating around for you to collect. The strength of the gun is visually depicted by the color, weakest being white, then gree, blue, purple, and strongest is orange. This makes me think of Borderlands but I’m told it is a fairly consistent color scheme for rarities in general. Guns range from handguns to shotguns to sniper rifles to sort of grenade launchers. All the classics really.
Tools and movement
While the guns may be fairly standard at the moment, thanks to the underwater setting, the gadgets are not. Each player is equipped with 3 gadgets that have unlimited uses however they do have charges that must recharge. The first one is a small boost, you can use this to push you in any direction for a short time. Quite basic but very handy. You can use this aggressively, defensively, or just to move a little faster for a short time.
Secondly, we have a shield that is used for defensive purposes (as shields normally are). Much like the boosts you’ll have 3 charges for your shield and you can place them anywhere. Unfortunately for you, you cannot shoot through your own shield without breaking it. However, the enemy will need to break it as well. In addition you can see through your shield but your enemy can’t. And as the game isn’t a slave to gravity that means you can approach from any angle that hopefully, your enemy won’t be expecting.
Torpedo, the king of gadgets
And finally, we have my favorite of the gadgets, the torpedo. You can use this one both defensively and offensively. You only have one charge for this one but it lasts longer than the other two. Pressing the button or key that corresponds will have you pull a torpedo out (of where? maybe it’s booty hidden booty?) and then you’ll ride the torpedo allowing you to move a lot faster. Pressing the button or key again will let go of the torpedo but it will continue on until it collides with something and explodes.
The torpedo is also the noisest of the gadgets meaning enemies might spot you and if they shoot the torpedo it will explode and you’ll take damage. But at the same time you can use it as a distraction and flank your enemy. The torpedo is a little risky but it gives you a lot of tactical choices. And it’s really fun to use as well.
Generally I’m not a big fan of arena shooters, but Tidal Shock is an exception. The movement is fluid and fun, the graphics are great, the sound design works very well. The only major flaw of the game so far is the lack of content. With only a single game mode available currently. However, the game is in Early Access and I have spoken with the developers who have confirmed further gameplay modes are planned. Including a generic last man swimming free for all and possibly a torpedo race.
There are two main ways to make a game. Build all the content you want and then refine the mechanics or refine the mechanics and then implement new content. Moonray Studios have opted for the latter. And in my opinion it was the right choice because the movement is about as smooth as the water you move through. Currently there is a small but dedicated fanbase for the game and as new content is added and refined I could see that the current fan base is just a drop in the ocean of what’s to come.
In Coffee Terms
In coffee terms, the game is like a new twist on an old classic. It’s like brewing a flat white with the highest quality ingredients they could find. Really focussing on letting it brew for the right amount of time to maximize the flavor. Then the barista adds their own special ingredient taking it to the next level. The cup might be small at the moment but eventually the size will increase and you’ll have a new coffee fix that might just become your go-to blend.
Tidal Shock Links
Tidal Shock Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.