Mixed or average reviews - based on 58 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 58
  2. Negative: 16 out of 58
  1. You could always power through with some special ammunition, or grind past opponents with charged sonic blasts. But really, you'll only be cheating yourself out of all those marvelously entertaining chain-reaction killing sprees and the resulting scoring bonuses. [Nov 2010, p.72]
  2. Jan 10, 2011
    It was an odd decision to spend so much time fixing an already released game, but for those who saw a good game just below the surface of the water, you will be happy to know that this is the game Hydrophobia should have been from day one.
  3. Jan 10, 2011
    The game is an excellent third-person action adventure.
  4. And when a downloadable game makes you keep thinking its a full retail release, it's definitely doing something right.
  5. 80
    It's definitely worth playing, though, and using the environment to creatively put down your enemies is quite satisfying. The supernatural water powers hinted at in the Challenge Room also get me excited for Hydrophobia's next installment.
  6. Incredi-potential half realised and half squandered. The makings of a future Must Have are there.
  7. Official Xbox Magazine UK
    For a price that is a fraction of boxed, retail games RRP, it's a surprisingly lengthy and substantial experience. [Nov 2010, p.102]
  8. Hydrophobia features a compelling world and premise that's reminiscent of the creepy, built-up universes of BioShock and Half-Life. But, unlike those masterpieces, this seemingly unfinished XBLA game features too many narrative holes and missing gameplay elements, making it seem like there was more work to be done.
  9. Hydrophobia shows what true water physics can bring to a game. It showcases the water well, but that isn't enough to carry the game completely.
  10. This first helping of Game Feast is probably worth a sampling, just as long as you know that there are a lot of empty calories on the plate before you decide to drop your 1200 MP on it.
  11. Jan 12, 2011
    Quotation forthcoming.
  12. Dec 29, 2010
    Although it can't be defined as an absolute masterpiece, this new version of Hydrophobia surely deserves a look. Many of the original version's faults have been solved and the overall quality of the experience has definitely gone up a notch.
  13. Dec 29, 2010
    It has to be said that Dark Energy Digital deserve a lot of praise for making the changes they did from the original release. Hydrophobia is still an entertaining but flawed title. If you can see beyond the flaws you will have a fun time with a game that doesn't excel but also shouldn't be ignored.
  14. Games Master UK
    Dec 25, 2010
    A decent first episode but one that'll need improvements to reel us in for the next act. [Issue#232, p.85]
  15. X-ONE Magazine UK
    Dec 25, 2010
    A unique experience that manages to offset its problems with great ideas and a superbly implemented core mechanic. [Issue#65, p.102]
  16. Oct 25, 2010
    Hydrophobia is a good title that doesn't last for too long. The controls may not suit everyone's tastes but it excels graphically and audibly and raises the bar on the technical proficiency of downloadable games.
  17. Don't be expecting anything groundbreaking with Hydrophobia. Although, I mildly enjoyed myself while playing through this game, the annoying control scheme and rather standard gameplay leaves me feeling like the game has a little more potential than what was tapped into.
  18. Overall Hydrophobia is one of the best looking XBLA games that has been released on the system. That said it does have its share of issues that are hopefully ironed out if the game ever sees a sequel.
  19. games(TM)
    Just a good game, and an incredibly impressive XBLA effort - one that, unlike many triple-A, big budget titles, introduces something wholly new and ambitious to gaming. [Issue#101, p.109]
  20. 70
    The water physics are the star of the show and really help you forget about a lot of the problems the game runs in to.
  21. 70
    Hydrophobia's strongest point is the realistically designed water. This is the first game in a franchise that has a lot of potential. However, 1200 Microsoft Points really is to expensive if you are not into adventure games.
  22. Hydrophobia shows a lot of promise, but doesn't quite get every aspect of it's gameplay down. Combat proves to be frustrating and the campaign is relatively short, but the Hydro Kinetic powers in the Challenge Room save it from becoming a real mess of mediocrity.
  23. 68
    Hydrophobia Pure is a decent enough game for a downloadable title, but as mentioned feels more like a tech demo for water physics than a fully thought out game. You can see what the developers were aiming for, but it misses the mark in many places.
  24. Water is hydrophobia's main attraction. The problem is that there isn't much else to entertain yourself with. Still worth a try if you don't fear water.
  25. In all, it's a complex recipe that just isn't prepared in the most appetizing way.
  26. Feb 16, 2011
    Considering the cost of the game on XBLA, you can certainly do worse when choosing a title to tide you over for a good survival-action game.
  27. Hydrophobia offers some remarkable technology for its water behavior, but as a gameplay experience isn't nearly as enjoyable.
  28. With so much riding on the line it's hard to understand why Dark Energy released a game that could have been amazing! The water dynamics were the best part of the game, but were essentially diminished because of the inept camera angles, monotonous missions, and last-gen graphics.
  29. An unusual take on survival horror with incredible water effects, Hydrophobia is ultimately let down by frustrating gameplay issues.
  30. The package might be a bit overpriced, not giving nearly enough content for what you pay, but this game holds a lot of promise. As a first entry in a series of titles there is a lot to build on, setting a solid framework for the future games to expand on but there's just not enough here to easily recommend.
  31. Jan 18, 2011
    After publishing the Pure patch, Dark Energy Digital finally got it right. It still has some things that should be improved, but Hydrophobia Pure is as technologically advanced as an interesting survival experience.
  32. 60
    The water isn't even as impressive as you might expect.
  33. 60
    Hydrophobia's proposal has everything to offer a different experience, although it falls midway.
  34. Hydrophobia could have been much better if it only included horror elements and a more involving story. What we've got instead is an uninspired game, even uncapable of making us feel what its title suggests: the main character's fear of water.
  35. 60
    If you're still interested in seeing what Hydrophobia has to offer, the Challenge Room and unique story definitely stand out as bright spots amid the otherwise murky gameplay. Otherwise, you're probably better off saving your Microsoft Points for something with a little more polish and replay value.
  36. Impressive tech, uninspired game.
  37. 58
    So, here's the thing: without the dynamic water effects, Hydrophobia is just a passable Live Arcade title. The game ends abruptly (an out-of-nowhere "To Be Continued" flashes on screen), it leaves something to be desired visually, and in some ways feels rushed; the only element raising Hydrophobia from pure mediocrity is its interesting use of water.
  38. Hydrophobia is a pretty good technical demo wrapped in an incomplete and unpolished game.
  39. Oct 28, 2010
    So many good ideas, wasted. Even the title itself sounds preposterous, as the main character doesn't seem to fear water at all. Hydroengine will maybe become a standard one day, but surely not this time, as this action/stealth/platform formula doesn't deliver at all.
  40. Dark Energy has undoubtedly created some impressive technology and fiction, but neither are expressly enjoyable in what's playable.
  41. I think the game does offer some unique things to whole 3rd person action cover system, but at the same time I have a hard time thinking of it as something really fun to play.
  42. Hydrophobia isn't a great game, but it certainly has its moments, not to mention an entertaining storyline. It's also extremely short, with roughly five hours of gameplay before a sudden "To Be Continued" message flashes across the screen. That's not a lot of payoff for 1200 MS Points ($15).
  43. It's a wasted concept and it's let down by lazy execution.
  44. 42
    Hydrophobia's waifish, glossed-over narrative is overshadowed by its shoddy combat and irritatingly obtuse navigation. At least the water is nice.
  45. Apr 27, 2011
    It's exciting to see a downloadable game with this much ambition, but if the kitchen sink approach can't do justice to the faucet and the bowl simultaneously, then omit both.
  46. Oct 25, 2010
    Hydrophobia is meant to be a trilogy, meaning we can expect another two parts to flow down the line, but unless some changes to the saving, puzzles, combat and controls are forth coming in the sequels, they're likely to be equally as washed out. Now, where's my towel at.
  47. Tragic in unused potential and perplexing in design, Hydrophobia never becomes more than the sum of its parts.
  48. From the game-stretching fetch quests to the clanking camera to the clumsy cliffhanger ending, Hydrophobia just doesn't feel like a finished game. The water is truly unique and special, but everything else feels too much like a soggy, overblown tech demo.
  49. With poor combat and clumsy controls, repetitive gameplay, and many frustrating design issues, Hyrophobia is not the wet dream we all wanted, just a conceptual one.
  50. So, while Hydrophobia breaks new water, it treads old ground. The systems beneath the ebb and flow of its technical accomplishment are archaic and, without exception, lack finesse.
  51. Feb 7, 2011
    Flawed and forgettable. Let this one drown slowly in the deepest pit of Xbox Live.
  52. Hydrophobia isn't straight-up, unforgivably dreadful. It's mostly just boring, uninspired, and vapid. Were it not for the combat, one could get away with calling it an almost decent waste of time and money. The whole package, however, amounts to a tedious and frustrating exercise in futility.
  53. There is so very much wrong with Hydrophiobia that no one should download it. It's not so bad that it's completely broken, but it's bad enough that even players who get the game for free shouldn't bother with it.
  54. A wholly loathsome experience drowns out the potentially impressive water physics; Dark Energy Digital should focus on turning their water into a piece of middleware. Maybe then we could finally see something good come out of this mess.
  55. An experience lacking flavour, with a transparent design, the game shares many qualities with its elemental subject matter. It is entering a super-competitive environment, and its premium DLC will need to be something special to turn things around.
  56. There are some interesting ideas and visual effects at play here, but they're not nearly strong enough to support such a monotonous adventure.
  57. Hydrophobia is just a Titanic of a shipwreck.
  58. Like any scientific breakthrough or new invention, Hydrophobia does represent a significant achievement in its own right. We're just going to have to wait until someone does anything worthwhile with it.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 70 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 70
  2. Negative: 10 out of 70
  1. Oct 3, 2010
    I've been playing this game all weekend and it just gets better and better with each play now I've got used to the controls which were a bitI've been playing this game all weekend and it just gets better and better with each play now I've got used to the controls which were a bit awkward at first. I've never seen water in a game that moves like this it really is quite an amazing bit of technology going on there and its on xbla!!!!! There have been times I've actually been holding my breath for Kate. Scoots accent is a little annoying but he does come out with quite a few funny oneliners every now and then. Well done to the Devs for making a new original exciting game I cant wait for the next installment. Full Review »
  2. Oct 4, 2010
    Hydrophobia is a new $15 third person shooter / parkour game built on a revolutionary new water physics engine. The dynamic water physicsHydrophobia is a new $15 third person shooter / parkour game built on a revolutionary new water physics engine. The dynamic water physics implemented in Hydrophobia is unlike anything I have seen in any other game involving interaction with water. From the way that the buoyancy changes with water level, to the realistic flow as a large volume of water is transferred from one space to another, to the impact it has on the character and other flotsam and jetsam caught up in it to the puzzles that must be solved in order to complete the game, Hydrophobia is a fresh new entry where games so often seem to blur into one another.

    In Hydrophobia, you play the protagonist, Kate Wilson, who is the chief security officer on a city-sized cruise ship christened "Queen of the World". The setting is in an overpopulated world in which this ship is an escape for those fortunate or rich enough to acquire accommodations on the huge vessel. However the ship has been taken over by a terrorist sect who believes the only way toward saving the world is through depopulation - "Save the world, kill yourself" is a common phrase seen in graffiti that the group has written on walls throughout the mega-cruiser. A massive waterborne craft wit compromised is the perfect environment to display the capabilities of such a dynamic new engine. As far as the gameplay is concerned, it is decent. There are some camera issues, especially in those challenges where you need to find an exit before the room completely floods. There is a greater sense of urgency to the parkour because you will drown if you don't find that air pocket on the way to your next destination. Fortunately, Kate has some high tech device that provide a 3D map showing paths to objectives, air pockets, and which hatches are open and which ones are locked. I found the map a bit difficult to manipulate in order to obtain the optimal view.

    The combat system requires you to think; your only weapon is a pistol that you must charge up before it shoots compressed air which takes about 5 or 6 shots to kill someone. You need to find other means to take out your opponent, such as an exploding barrel among the flotsam, a leaking gas receiver, a live electrical cable to knock into the water, or a glass door to blow open letting a flood of water in to drown your adversary. There are challenges and awards / achievements for taking down foes using various and combined methods. There are more potent rounds available for the pistol but they are rare and usually linked to a very specific puzzle or means of escape.

    The voice acting is passable. The invisible and omnipotent helpmeet with who you are always in communication has a somewhat fake Scottish brogue. The protagonist is supposed to be American, but often British dialect of the voice actor sneaks in. The setting and story are good and well executed. I haven't finished Hydrophobia yet. I needed something to play until Fable III comes out later this month and this has proved to be a very enjoyable diversion and, at $15 US, this game is a great value. I am looking forward to the future of this franchise.
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 4, 2010
    *Game opens, presented with Ps2 grade visuals. The Bedroom setting, was uninteresting, nothing could be interacted with, objects to pick up*Game opens, presented with Ps2 grade visuals. The Bedroom setting, was uninteresting, nothing could be interacted with, objects to pick up were unclear. *Interesting populated areas where trains come and go and characters were walking around are simply hinted at in FMV sequences, and the FMV looked more fun than the games interaction. Showing Kate running up walls to access hatches and luxurious crowd scenes, none of which could be sustained 'in-game'. *Despite setting the scene albeit vaguely, and showing us a Wireframe model of the size of the Queen Of The Pond (whatever). The disastrous FMV and amateur story telling shows us a Bomb on a lift that detonates.. and the next thing the entire Boat is blown up. What could have been a major action set piece or even a little bit MORE FMV that could perhaps push to be exciting was lost. Instead, we have.. bomb on a lift. *The FMV direction what very much dominates the game is very poor, poor voice acting, poor animation, poor character models. The â Full Review »