Anoxemia on Xbox One review: A creepy sci-fi horror game on the bottom of the ocean

It started out as a simple mission. Just head to the seafloor to collect some contaminated plant samples. Things started going bad almost immediately, and they haven't exactly stopped. First, communications from the tower topside went out, then your submarine crashed leaving you more or less stranded. With no way to communicate and a mission that needs completing, you head out into the ocean to finish the job you were sent here to do. But you don't know why your sub crashed, and the dark water and obstacles down here make you think something more is going on. That's Anoxemia.

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Dark and gloomy

This is a world filled with dark blues, shadows, and an overall gloomy outlook. That's pretty much to be expected too, considering that you're down at the bottom of the ocean. The boundaries of each level show up as the black outline of caves, and while you aren't running and jumping around it plays like a platformer. There are a variety of items, and they all pop from the background, generally by using bright, pale colors that look almost otherworldly against the darkness of the scene.

While there are plenty of obstacles floating through the water around you, you might not see all of them until you deploy your sonar. You'll see floating mines, turrets, and even nasties that will float at you if they detect movement. All of these obstacles are black, with turrets and mechanized weapons glowing red. You'll also see red halos around them when you deploy your sonar, to show you precisely where they are.

For the most part the graphics are simple, but quite evocative. The dark colors and shifting obstacles add to the feel of tension in the air. The dark colors make anything bright seem alien. It all adds to the atmosphere and feel that may remind old-school gamers of Ecco the Dolphin on Sega Genesis.

It only goes downhill from here

You, Dr.Bailey, were called in to deal with the collection of corrupted seaweed samples on the bottom of the ocean floor. It looked like an easy job, but things went bad and they went bad fast, from the communications blackout with the tower on the surface to his submarine crashing and stranding him on the ocean floor. He decides that since he's stranded at the bottom of the ocean, he might as well start collecting the samples he was sent here for.

It's dark on the ocean floor, and things are not as simple as they were originally set out to be. Massive mines chained to the ocean floor, small floating mines above you, Turrets that attack as soon as they see you, it just seems to be a lot of firepower for an area mostly devoid of life. Except that Dr.Bailey is definitely not the only one who is down there. There is something else, lurking in the darkness, and it doesn't seem to like the good doctor so much.

You get a creepy, crawling vibe that's helped by the scenery and the haunting music. We're not going to give it away, but you are not alone down there, and it's going to be dangerous going.

Follow that drone

The gameplay is quite simple, but it's still tricky to get the hang of. You aren't actually controlling Dr.Bailey. Instead, you control the drone across the screen and he will follow quite closely. As you swim through the water you'll need to use your sonar, keep a close eye on everything popping up on the screen, and lead the good doctor to items in the environment. You only have a finite amount of air to start with, and unless you can find cannisters to boost it, you will eventually run out of air.

Deploying your sonar just takes a quick click on A button, and it will outline any obstacles in its course. I wound up deploying it about every 10 seconds or so, to make sure that none of the bitty EMP mines floating around could sneak past me. Items in the environment that were usable or helpful will glow a little bit, but they're more visible by the small white cross that appears next to them. You need to deploy the sonar, and it will indicate to Dr.Bailey that he needs to pick it up. These items include batteries, air cannisters, a harpoon gun, dynamite, supply crates and more.

The game is set up similar to a platformer. Each level has a certain number of seaweed samples that you need to collect, and after you do so the level will end. This starts easily enough, but soon you'll be dodging turrets, knocking down structurally-unsound walls, and trying to figure out how to traverse a wall of mines. While the level will end, you still need to keep an eye on your oxygen because it does not respawn between levels.

Now, when you die, and you will die, you just respawn at the start of the level you perished in. You'll have to recollect any items, and your oxygen resets to what it was when you started that level. While you will go down regularly, this lets you figure out the best way to get to the samples that you need to collect. In some cases you're going to need the items you pick up in the environment. This includes moving items, or exploding mines using the harpoon gun, and destroying weak walls using dynamite.


Anoxemia is a fun and challenging game that will have you struggling to figure out how to get to those seaweed samples before you run out of air. With a creepy vibe, and an underlying mystery, it's a great game that is easy to jump into. Oh, and it only costs $7.99.


  • Gorgeous and evocative backgrounds.
  • Easy controls to pick up.
  • Interesting setting and mechanics.


  • If you run too low on oxygen you may need to restart.
  • Controls can be difficult to master.

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Jen Karner

Jen is a contributing writer for WindowsCentral. She's an avid gamer, especially when she gets to kill zombies, craft things, or use a bow. She can often be heard yelling about her chainsaw while playing Gears of War 4. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.