More info »

Barotrauma review
Howie Howard


Suspense in the Sub

It's all about the barotrauma

A barotrauma is physical damage to body tissue or internal organs due to differences in gas or liquid pressure between the body and the gas or liquid itself. Scuba divers sometimes suffer barotrauma due to deep water dives because the deeper the dive the greater the pressure that is applied to the body. Extreme pressure on human tissues can cause stretching beyond their normal tolerances and they can be damaged. Being in close proximity to an explosion can cause severe barotrauma to happen because the explosion delivers fast moving high pressure air that emanates from the center of the blast and extends outward. Being too close to the high air pressure wave can be deadly.

With that said above, what does pressure differences have to do with Barotrauma the game? Well, probably not much other than it is a submarine underwater adventure game. Honestly, I didn't know what a barotrauma was and I had to look it up. Maybe the name has to do with tense, high pressure situations due to being deep under the water in an alien environment. I guess it really doesn't matter so stay with us as we try to dissect the inner workings of this new game by indie developer FakeFish / Undertow Games.

Horrible and dark looking

Barotrauma has been around in early access for a few years now and as a result it has built up a pretty good following. It's a 2D co-op horror / survival / submarine game that takes place on Jupiter's moon Europa - some time in the near future. Apparently, Earth had to be abandoned because the climate went sour again. Barotrauma could just as well have been a Sci-fi side scrolling space affair with RPG elements but the developers chose to use the underwater environment of a distant planet's moon instead. Europa's environment is widely speculated upon because we really don't know what it's like but the developers setting of choice is solid and quite a believable one.

The Europa of Barotrauma is a dark place that's inhabited by horrible monsters, frequent disasters and other randomly created happenings for the game player to solve. The monsters in this game are very powerful and they are relentless in their desire to destroy your little submarine and by extension you and your crew. So expect to restart your character a few times because the game is rather unrelenting in the difficulty regard and that could be either good or bad. Gameplay is based on increasingly more difficult missions and gaining character and crew experience is what will save the day.

Barotrauma difficulty

Game difficulty doesn't seem to come in the standard easy, medium and hard form as in similar games. Even though I adjusted the difficulty slider it didn't seem to make much difference. Following is a quote about game difficulty settings: "Difficulty determines what kind of environment you will be playing in and what kind of random events you might face during the mission. When you ramp up the difficulty, expect more moving ice chunks, organisms that disrupt your sonar, volcanic activity, water currents and more frequent and more dangerous monster spawns. Missions will be longer or shorter according to the difficulty settings." I'm thinking that my inexperience with the game and my characters inexperience may have contributed to my conception of the difficulty settings being overly hard.

Difficulty aside, Barotrauma is an engaging game that will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours. Events such as monster attacks, various random sub catastrophes and other horrific happenings come literally out of no where and they require immediate action or else you could lose your ship. Other disasters can include random nuclear reactor meltdowns, fires, collision damage, compartment flooding and even crew members bent on attempting sabotage will serve to keep you on alert. That's the beauty of Barotrauma because along with building a strong and capable character and crew, waiting for the next catastrophe brings a nice horror element to centrE stage.

I'm the captain and I'm not sharing my barotrauma with anyone

Barotrauma can be played in either single player mode or with up to sixteen human players online in cooperative mode. There are six total submarine positions or jobs available and they are Captain, Captain's Assistant, Engineer, Mechanic, Medic and Security Officer. If you don't have sixteen human players available then bots will fill the remaining positions. Solo play works the same way with the game player choosing one position and then a bot will fill the others. You start out with the six named jobs and of course I chose to be the Captain.

The Captain issues orders to the crew and the orders are then carried out by the person or bot assigned. Bot AI is on the weak side though, so you will inevitably get mediocre performances from the crew in solo mode. Co-op depends more on working together, although players can do whatever they want to do, including mutiny! However, in solo mode, you can jump in to any position and take care of the disaster yourself or run to the disaster site and help out. Unfortunately that can lead to the need for tedious micromanagement because sub procedures can require many steps that can become tedious. Deciding to take care of all the early disasters yourself is okay but as progress is made, micromanaging is not feasible because the action will get very heated.

Old school 2D

Barotrauma has a rather dark 2D retro look to it but it fits the game and its subject matter. Most of the game play takes place on the sub but there are missions that involve exploring long tunnels and caves. Other missions that require action be taken by a crew member outside the sub are present as well. The game is very detailed in the way tasks are carried out. As an example, compartments tend to flood on this sub and they need to be pumped out. The process is to find a locker that contains pressure suits, put the suit on but don't forget they need oxygen canisters so you have to find those first. The oxygen canister is activated and then the dive can take place. Don't forget to have the appropriate tool in inventory and enough oxygen canisters in inventory and then you can activate the pump to pump the water out.

Barotrauma scenarios can be fan modded and that's a big plus when it comes to replay-ability. There's the option to design and build your own submarines and then use them in the game. The sub design part of the game is a fan favorite and a whole lot of fun. Every submarine, either game or fan designed, needs to have the all of the sub components present such as a nuclear power plant, control center, medical bay, etc. before it can be used in the game. So in reality the subs may look different but they all basically function the same.


Folks, Barotrauma is a very detailed game. It's suspense filled, has sudden horrific events that need to be resolved, lots of combat against Europa's monster population and a whole lot more. After adding in the sub design feature, the fan mods and the very detailed game world with slick game play how could you not give this title a two thumbs up. I would highly recommend this title, especially to those that enjoy playing online cooperative games with other human beings

As always, follow Hooked Gamers on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.


fun score


Very detailed submarine action game that contains so much that it would take a novel to explain it all.


Solo play mode can become tedious at times and it can sometimes feel like playing all nine of the positions on a baseball team by yourself.