Under the Waves Self isolation at the low end review

Under the Waves – Self-isolation at the low end. review

played on PlayStation 5

Quantic Dream has long been known as the creators of thrilling cinematic adventures where the gameplay is Gulkin-nosed but places great emphasis on a branching plot with multiple endings for each story. That year the company decided to break away from the usual role and become not a developer but a publisher. Under the Spotlight label, she plans to release several games from independent studios, including Under the Waves by French team Parallel Studio.

At the bottom

We mentor Stan, a professional diver who retired but went back to work for the largest drilling company, UniTrench. He got a job there, not for the sake of a high salary or for the love of the craft, but to isolate himself from society. Three years ago, a tragedy happened in his family from which he still could not recover, so he needed a shake up – his wife stayed at home, and he himself went to hell (or rather, deeper) to try his mental state fine. In fact, Stan begins to lose his mind even faster – he has constant nightmares related to what happened three years ago and hallucinations appear after long trips under water.

What secrets does the deep hold?

You can’t name the original plot, but you don’t want to yawn from it either – this is such a melancholic drama for those who like sad stories, characters speaking in lazy voices and a complete lack of humor. All in all, an ideal game to put yourself in the shoes of the main character and worry about him every time he gets into difficult situations. The only problem is that the protagonist has been made too boring. As he goes to bed, he complains about how cold he is. As he showers, he blames himself for being a pushover compared to his wife because she let go of this situation a long time ago. Even on an assignment, this mattress can erupt into a long monologue about how work helps take his mind off everything else. In addition, when the character is speaking, you cannot interact with objects – you sit and wait for him to finish his speech, and then you can finally continue.

It is clear that the authors had a difficult task – since Stan goes to the bottom of the North Sea alone, he has practically no one to communicate with. The only exception is his friend Tim, who radios from time to time and either assigns new tasks or invites Stan to talk about topics that are troubling him. In such conditions, it is difficult to build a narrative on the dialogues, but understanding this does not make the problem any less noticeable. The protagonist is obviously a good man – a responsible worker and a respectable family man. But its constant whining, which at times also disrupts gameplay, has to be attributed to Under the Waves’ shortcomings.

    The protagonist fails to escape from bad thoughts in isolation

The protagonist fails to escape from bad thoughts in isolation

The further you play through the game, the more you realize that Stan isn’t the only main character of Under the Waves. Great attention is paid here to the sea and mankind’s ruthless treatment of it. The idea is as old as money: Large corporations are willing to mercilessly pollute water bodies out of greed for profit and so on. Yes, and the game was developed in collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation Europe, a non-profit organization where volunteers work to protect bodies of water from litter and other debris.

At the same time, the project cannot be described as environmental propaganda – yes, UniTrench is portrayed here as a villain, and the protagonist who works for the corporation is not happy about it himself. Small but fun details are missing – for example, the protagonist throws away an oxygen canister after using it, but you can immediately pick up a vessel to turn it into resources to create something new.

    Destroyed oil trails leave behind several valuable resources

Destroyed oil trails leave behind valuable resources

open underwater world

Under the Waves gameplay can be described as an open world adventure – not too big, but quite interesting. At the beginning of the game, the hero will be provided with a submarine with which he will travel, and he will start and end every day in a special life support module. There we take on tasks, communicate with a friend by radio, drink coffee, sleep, create objects on a workbench. You can even play the guitar!

Research is largely unnecessary here – all plot tasks are completed without unnecessary gestures: if you need to blow up the door, there’s definitely a mine nearby; If there’s hopeless darkness ahead of you, there’s a box of glowsticks somewhere nearby. So quite possible Go through Under the Waves like a classic linear adventure – open the menu with quests, activate one of them and go to the sign that appears.

    Don't be afraid of marine life

Don’t be afraid of marine life

However, exploring the seabed is very interesting – especially if you are one of those who like to engage in such games. When trash scattered everywhere is collected, it turns into resources: old bottles – into plastic, abandoned appliances – into electronics, and so on. All kinds of algae are useful too, and if you come across a chest, that’s generally wonderful – there you’ll find a blueprint with an improvement for a submarine or the main character’s costume. You can do without all of this, but the process is fascinating.

Underwater are local “sights” such as shipwrecks, sometimes seaweed-covered and long-rusted WWII planes and submarines. Killer whales, blue whales, basking sharks and even seals are constantly scurrying around, not to mention small fish and various species of turtles. Everything looks hauntingly beautiful – not as colorful as in Abzu, but magical in its own way. You can switch on photo mode at any time and take photos – I’ve done that a lot more here than in many other games.

    At such moments you want to get a virtual camera and click the shutter button

At such moments you want to get a virtual camera and click the shutter button

A bit tiring are the elements of the survival simulator, which look reasonable and even realistic, but still don’t fit optimally into such a meditative game. The diver runs out of oxygen, which is replenished either by returning to the submarine or by using a canister. The submarine is running out of fuel – either you need to look for a canister or dock at the nearest station. If you frequently bump into obstacles with a submarine, it will suffer damage that is repaired with repair kits. There are always enough resources to craft these items, but every time you get into a cramped cavern and far from any means of transportation, you get a little tense and start choking from lack of oxygen. That’s why I always had the maximum number of spray cans with me – there was usually an excess.

Otherwise, Under the Waves turned out to be a very quiet, even soothing, game. No need to fight sharks, chases or challenges with obstacles – you swim alone, sometimes get out of the submarine to collect seaweed, sometimes destroy oil spills with a laser. The tasks are always clear, the puzzles are not difficult (they appear more than once in the story campaign). The situations the protagonist gets into are varied enough that the gameplay doesn’t become routine. So there’s not much to complain about here – even the controls have been designed to be very practical, both inside and outside the submarine.

    By the way, black frames do not disappear in the course of the game, but only get a little wider in cutscenes

By the way, black frames do not disappear in the course of the game, but only get a little wider in cutscenes


This is a debut project for the Parallel Studio team and it turned out to be very worthy. The niche of underwater adventure games is tiny, and even those that have a story can be counted on your fingers. “Under the Waves” doesn’t tell the most original story, but for the most part it’s interesting to follow if you turn a blind eye to the whiner in the title role. Yes, and studying the underwater world is fascinating – all thanks to their beauty and unobtrusively labeled collectibles. It is unlikely that the audience will remember this project for long, but it will definitely make for a couple of pleasant evenings, and you will definitely want to come back to it – there are practically no other games of this type.


  • the most beautiful underwater world with a variety of marine life;
  • the depths are pleasant to explore thanks to unassuming collectibles;
  • touching story and melancholic atmosphere;
  • convenient in all respects administration.


  • the main character, for some reason, whines too often;
  • somewhat lengthy survival simulator elements.


The underwater world mesmerizes with the view and abundance of marine life. A curious detail: the deeper you dive, the darker the environment, giving the game more realism.


The characters are nicely voiced and the sad music goes well with the protagonist’s sad story.

single player game

You can progress through story mission after story mission and have nothing to distract you, but finding chests and gathering resources is such a peaceful process that you’ll be doing it all the time.

Estimated travel time

8 o’clock.

collective game

Not provided.

general impression

A beautiful game with a touching storyline and entertaining gameplay spoiled by the boredom of the protagonist.

Rating: 8.0/10

Learn more about the grading system



    About the author

    Alan Foster

    Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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