Scuba Diving Video Games to Pass This Extended Surface Interval

Stuck too long without being able to get in the water? Here are three digital experiences that can help you feel submerged even if you’re far from the sea.

INFINITE SCUBA

infintescuba.com

$12.99 for Mac and Windows. Also available on Steam Early Access.

$4.99 “Dive with Sylvia VR” standalone game compatible for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows MR and Valve Index virtual-reality headsets.

“Infinite Scuba” is a scuba diving simulator game created by Cascade Game Foundry that allows players to explore real-world scuba diving locations. A lot of effort has been put into the realism of traversing the underwater realm; players need to be wary of nitrogen narcosis, which will impair vision and movement, and exhausting their gas supply—which depletes faster at depth. As with real divers, it’s up to players to keep an eye on their tank pressure, depth and direction using their gauges and compass.

While exploring dive sites, players can complete objectives such as touring different parts of shipwrecks, finding and identifying marine species, discovering archeological artifacts and removing debris. Players can also take underwater photos that can be shared with friends. As players complete tasks, they’ll unlock encyclopedia entries full of information about the local wildlife and history, and new pieces of dive gear for their characters to wear. This selection of gear includes actual licensed products from several name-brand dive manufacturers.

The game currently offers two real-world dive sites for players to explore: the Gosei Maru wreck in Truk Lagoon, Glover’s Reef in Belize (complete with whale sharks). A dive site in the Salish Sea, the interior coastal waters of Washington state and southwestern British Columbia, will be released in the fall.

A separate virtual reality experience is also available for VR headsets. In it, players can take a short, interactive tour of the Belize dive site with Dr. Sylvia Earle as their dive buddy. A portion of the VR game’s proceeds go toward Mission Blue and other environmental non-profits.

Simple and soothing, “Infinite Scuba” offers quick relief to anyone suffering from the effects of an extended surface interval. A free 30-minute demo is available on the “Infinite Scuba” website.

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ABZÛ

abzûgame.com

$19.99 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch. Available for Windows computers via Steam.

The name “Abzû” is made up of two ancient Sumerian words that reference the mythical properties of water and its role in the origin of all living things. It can be directly translated as “ocean” and “to know,” and hints at the mysteries waiting just below the surface. Less concerned with the physics and realities of diving, “Abzû” is focused on recreating the magic, serenity and mystery of the underwater world. Gas supply and no-deco limits are of no concern here, allowing you to be wholly immersed in the game’s gorgeous underwater scenery and evocative musical score.

“Abzû” takes players on an undersea odyssey through a range of breathtakingly beautiful marine ecosystems bursting with color and life.

Though there are some puzzle elements throughout, gameplay is simple and takes a back seat to the range of awe-inspiring tableaus bursting with color and life. “Abzû” takes players on an undersea odyssey and the reward is not the destination, but the journey. The environments in the game are based on real world ecosystems but have a fantasy, dreamlike feel to them. Over the course of the game, you’ll fin through moody kelp forests, idyllic coral reefs, bioluminescent caves, desolate ocean depths and even ancient undersea ruins.

Marine life is a constant on-screen presence, and all of the creatures in “Abzû” are based on real-world animals—including some extinct ones. Schooling fish swirl about the screen, each programmed to react to the player and each other in a compelling facsimile of realistic behavior. This movement is especially mesmerizing during a Sardine Run-like plunge through an enormous bait ball of giant trevally while oceanic whitetips, billfish and mahi circle about. You can also interact with larger animals such as sharks, rays and sunfish—some animals will even allow you to hitch a ride.

“Abzû” recreates diving in a way that’s a step beyond reality and allows players to be immersed in the underwater realm in a fantastical way. Day-dreaming divers will find this game scratches an itch they might not have known they had, as they drift among a pod of twirling blue whales or breach the surface atop a great white shark.

SUBNAUTICA

$24.99 for PS4, Xbox One, Windows and Mac computers. Also available via Steam.

This game is compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index virtual-reality headsets.

For players looking for a meatier challenge, “Subnautica” is a survival game set entirely at sea. The story casts the player as the sole survivor of a crashed spaceship, now marooned in the middle of the ocean on an alien planet. Granted, it’s a little more Jean-Luc Picard than Jacques-Yves Cousteau, but the game perfectly captures the sense of discovery and adventure that come with diving into uncharted waters.

When playing “Subnautica” on survival mode, players will need to keep an eye on their health, hunger and hydration along with their air supply. Players begin with nothing but their floating escape pod, but by harvesting resources from the ocean floor (including scrap from your wrecked starship) you can begin to build equipment for scuba tanks, underwater scooters, undersea bases and even deep-sea submarines to improve your depth and range.

“Subnautica” has several distinct biomes to explore, and its creative mix of sci-fi creatures offer an enormous marine menagerie for players to discover, ranging from the cute, friendly “cuddlefish” to gigantic, terrifying deep-sea leviathans

There is a central narrative to follow, but the open-world gameplay and a robust crafting system allows players to take it all in at their own pace. The game has several difficulty levels, providing players who are more interested in building the ultimate underwater base than staving off dehydration a more laidback play experience.

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