Imaginative Spooks: DXC2: The Diving Bell
Do you know of the Byford Dolphin diving bell accident of 1993? It was a terrible accident where an explosive decompression resulted in the deaths of five people and the injury serious injury of another. I suspect that The Diving Bell was inspired by this particular accident, as the game is centered on a similar event. I would suggest reading up on the accident (very not safe for work) because The Diving Bell places you in the head of a survivor. What on earth would something like that do to the mind?
The Shining under the sea:
At the bottom of the ocean, a single lonely scientist is writing the mandatory logs. He is wracked with guilt due to a particular accident involving a Diving Bell and violent decompression. Help should be coming but that hope is growing as dim as the ocean floor. Something might be out there, something is inside the station, gnawing at his guilt. The Diving Bell is a claustrophobic, haunting tale of guilt gradually destroying a man from the inside out. Despite its short length, Bathysfear Games crafts an atmosphere of growing dread and despair. The gameplay is mostly restricted to going to locations to do repairs and gather parts for said repairs. It's partially difficult but never the less engaging because we feel the sheer monotony of doing maintenance. The act of survival is made as boring and tedious as possible through the mechanics.
Making the gameplay monotonous works to emphasize the protagonist's crushing loneliness and loss of will to live. The station becomes his prison that he is perpetuating by writing the logs that he only reads, and maintains. Only by dying, he escapes his prison and his guilt. And the act of escaping has the most grandiose in terms of sound design and presentation. The climax is just writing the last will as the station seemingly tries to prevent you from doing so. Is it saving him or keeping him trapped? The Diving Bell is fascinating as a short story, ripe for analytical study.
The Diving Bell is a haunting and ultimately tragic tale of guilt and madness under the sea. Overall a great title!
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