Robin Arnott is a sound designer by day, would be games developer by night, but his first creation is likely to terrify you.
The premise of Deep Sea is a simple one. All you’ve got to do is find an underwater monster by working out where it is in the murky depths and then shooting it.
Sounds easy doesn't it, until you find out that you’ve not only got to do it by sound alone, but that you’ll be wearing a blacked out gas mask that monitors your breathing and then feeds the noise back into the headphones your wearing so you can’t so easily hear what’s going on.
The more you breath, the more the bubbles and exaggerated breathing sounds block your ability to hear the monster and guidance from a helping voice that will tell you if you are “too far left” or “too far right”.
Manage to shoot the leviathan and another one comes after you, this time harder, and they’ll continue to do so until you die.
“It’s a very negative game,” confesses Arnott to Pocket-lint at E3 just as we are about to have a go ourselves.
To say the experience will be seen by many as scary is an understatement.
Once that mask is on and the groans of a monster somewhere in the distance start all that’s left for you to do is concentrate and move a joystick around to hone in on the noise.
Breathing becomes difficult, not because you are physically restricted, but because if you stop breathing you can hear what’s going on and therefore have a better chance to surviving longer.
Needless to say we found ourselves doing this as it was our only hope of surviving.
“It’s all about playing by sound rather than sight,” explains a rather scatty Arnott to us after we’ve re-surfaced. “Whether you hold your breath or breath slowly the game physically challenges you.”
It’s certainly a trend that we are starting to see. No longer are games to be played slouched on the sofa. Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s PlayStation Move tell us that we are supposed to be as energetic as possible, and this plays on an untapped experience – sound.
“I see the game as like asteroids, but for your ears,” Arnott adds before telling us that sadly there are no plans to release Deep Sea.
We can understand why. We aren’t sure of any developer brave enough to sell you a gas mask with any game let alone one that expects you wear it.
That probably good news to a few gamers we saw or heard didn’t like the experience too much at E3. Turns out strapping a gas mask on that doesn’t let you see anything, while feeding back the sound of your breathing to a pair of headphones you’re wearing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.