Barotrauma (Early Access) Review – A Backstabber’s Delight

FakeFish, Undertow Games/Daedalic Entertainment

Real role-playing games are a bit of a rarity into today’s video game-sphere. Sure, you have many games out there that call themselves RPGs since they allow you to customize your character, embark on quests or missions given by NPCs, and acquire gear, but those can be played with little or no actual role-playing involved.

Games such as Town of Salem and Space Station 13 strongly encouraged multiplayer role-playing. Not only that, they also embraced your ability of being able to deceive other players and really immersed everyone in a sea of paranoia.


Newcomer to the scene (as of June 5 2019), Barotrauma, shares many of the same qualities as the aforementioned titles. Having put in quite a bit of gaming time in with it (with a few friends) I’ve gotten killed, set others up to be killed, watched others get killed, and drowned…a lot. Indeed, the game’s devs bill it as a “2D Co-op Multiplayer Drowning Simulator. In Space.”  In all, it’s been a blast so far and really allows your role-playing skills to get a proper workout.

Barotrauma places a band of players into a submarine-like vessel which has been tasked with exploring Europa—Jupiter’s moon. As Europa, in reality, is an ice-covered moon with a huge sub-surface ocean sloshing around beneath its mantle, you and your crew get to investigate all manner of otherworldly flora and fauna. I have to say that the game’s premise is quite intriguing and should pique the interest of any explorer.


When you begin a game, you can choose from a number of specialties, including the Captain of the vessel, Engineer, Medical Doctor, and so on. Each class has a role to fulfill (except for the Assistant, which basically just runs around doing what he wants to) and each can either be relied on to help the rest of the crew, or do more harm than good.

What makes each gaming session of Barotrauma so fun (or aggravating) is that dangers can come from outside of your vessel, or internally. Externally, you’ll have to worry about getting lost in the gigantic maze of depths under Europa’s surface. And then there are those occasional powerful currents that can ruin any crew’s day.

If that weren’t enough, there are all sorts of different types of alien critters—both big and small—that usually want to crack your sub apart in order to get at all of those fleshy morsels; much like peeling open a can of sardines. However, if things go well (they usually don’t) you can actually accomplish a mission here and there.


But potentially the most dangerous threat can come from your very own crew. You see, even though each member of the crew is supposed to be trusted to perform their duties, should they be? This magic question is where Barotrauma’s role-playing comes in.

Can you trust your mechanic to dive into flooded compartments and patch up leaks? What about the engineer; is he really in the reactor chamber watching the power systems? And what’s the “trusty” Assistant do besides follow people around, purportedly to learn new skills? (Always keep your eyes on Assistants). Playing a match of Barotrauma is similar to watching John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”


As an Early Access title, Barotrauma still has a lot of work to be done on it—there’s a distinct lack of content with regards to mission variety and the overall environs of Europa’s depths. However, as it stands right now, it’s a splendid deep-sea submarine role-playing simulator that will surely make you laugh (or gnash your teeth in frustration). I’m looking forward to how this title develops down the road.

SCORE: 85%

Barotrauma has some pretty nice looking graphics that make its 2D gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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