Under The Waves – Wave

REVIEW – For some reason, it’s become common in the last year or so for a game with a narrative to be of reasonable quality and tied to the sea. It was the case with Dredge, which can be compared to Parallel Studio’s game, which tries to explore depth from a different, psychological angle; the result is not bad, but it’s not that good either.



Stan, a professional diver in the North Sea, is struggling to overcome a life-changing loss during an extended mission underwater. Stuck in his self-imposed solitude, he starts to experience strange events and must make the most significant choice of his life…





Stan, who works for a drilling company, is mentally on the floor because he has lost someone in his family. He’s up to his neck in work because of it (he’s not alone in it), but it’s not an easy task, as the narrative also covers Stan’s grief, while the oil giant is given a more prominent role in the story. The odd situation is that the world-building and storytelling are good, while the gameplay is perhaps best described as clunky. The way the dangers of the deep and the naturalness of the sea are portrayed is pleasing. However, Parallel Studio’s game does not aspire to a solid psychological horror level, but it still manages to create tension in its darker, claustrophobic moments. It is questionable how much the camera movement can please the player because if you are prone to motion sickness, you may have to take a break after a short while. After all, the camera is jerking around quite a lot.

(Maybe that is why the game should be given two ratings again…?) Visually, Under The Waves is not bad, and audiovisually, it is also a good result, with a soundtrack by Nicolas Bredin that fits the moment’s mood. The game also has a slight nature environmentalist touch to it, which is not surprising given the presence of the Surfrider Foundation. Perhaps because of it, UniTrench has been given a rather retro-futuristic design: a mysterious, suspicious, faceless company that makes it untrustworthy, and there are still some of those today (one need only think of Shell, for example; Shell, go well to hell). But somehow, one can also detect oddities in the focus on the story itself. For example, Stan explains to himself what he is doing. We’re not sure if it was necessary. Still, if it was meant to show that the character is mentally disconnected, it didn’t work for the developers, who at least put together an impressive finale at the end, which makes the game worth playing through (but the length has to be mentioned here: it takes 5.5 hours to get through it, and there is little chance of replayability).





The voice acting is mostly good, so there are no complaints, but the game has problems. For example, one can bring up that the handling is clunky. It would be understandable deep underwater, but perhaps the developers have overdone it. In the open world, the missions are broken up into days, but the crafting felt almost forced on Under The Waves. Many people may stop looking at this mechanism if you don’t have to deal with it. What can be more confusing is how Stan sometimes switches between swimming and walking with the animations. The controls seemed imprecise, as more than once Stan would fall a little further than he should have.

There were several times when the mission markers were pointing in the wrong direction, which can cause you to get lost; plus, it’s a waste of time, and the result can be pure frustration. But it can be turned off so the interface can be removed. This is perhaps advisable, making it more immersive in the North Sea. There’s no fear that Under The Waves is so glitchy that it’s unplayable, but these minor, annoying glitches pile up on top of each other, represented in the rating. In some places, the story could have been a little more subtle (it could have stayed in the background), but at least the message and the setting within the story can be sufficiently impactful and memorable. Perhaps it should also be mentioned that the game cleverly combines linear storytelling with unrestrained exploration. You rarely see it, and Parallel Studio deserves credit in every way.



Slowly building up…


…and that’s why you must be careful with your assessment of Under The Waves. Anyone prone to motion sickness is advised to search for a video and watch the first half hour in full screen to see how much it upsets your stomach. If vomiting is the result, then it is not recommended (and would be a five-and-a-half out of ten), and if there is no problem, then the game deserves a six-and-a-half out of ten, as it is not bad but technically a bit silly. It’s no coincidence that Quantic Dream, now part of China’s NetEase (David Cage’s Heavy Rain is an excellent example from the studio…), published the game: it’s a similar experience but with a slightly weaker technical execution.



+ Well combined open world and story
+ Psychologically and environmentally effective story
+ Audiovisually good


– Many minor technical errors and bugs
– The story is excessively strong in some places
– Inaccurate treatment

Publisher: Quantic Dream

Developer: Parallel Studio

Style: diver

Release: August 29, 2023.

Under The Waves

Gameplay - 5.7
Graphics - 6.8
Story - 7.1
Music/Audio - 6.9
Ambience - 6



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Grabbing controllers since the middle of the nineties. Mostly he has no idea what he does - and he loves Diablo III. (Not.)

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