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Codename: Ocean Keeper, a robot blasting away at strange undersea creatures.

Codename: Ocean Keeper is Subnautica meets Vampire Survivors, with a demo out now

Codename: Ocean Keeper asks the all important question, “What if Vampire Survivors was underwater and you had a giant robot?” And, based on its Steam Next Fest demo, the answer is looking pretty awesome.

It’s not all sea-monster murder, though. There are shades of Subnautica here, as you juggle resource collecting with blasting waves of incoming monsters. This top-down roguelike gives you a couple of minutes to stomp over to a cave and, leaving your spider robot, dive in for some undersea mining.

The resources you grab can be used to upgrade your robot’s weapons, provided you get out before the time limit’s up. Then, your mech switches to auto-fire, and you’re slaughtering the hordes of impressively alien-looking nasties. For some reason, they object to you plundering their planet. Can’t think why.

We had a real blast with Codename: Ocean Keeper’s demo, especially when we gathered enough gems to afford some respectable upgrades. Your mech is shockingly slow to start off with, so much so we were dispatching foes mere milliseconds before they chowed down on our armour. That’s certainly one way to create tension.

Codename: Ocean Keeper, a character dragging items behind them underwater.
Image: RetroStyle Games

The more we ploughed into upgrading our machine, the more exhilarating an experience it became. But, as much fun as annihilating waves of alien sea creatures is, it’s not our favourite thing about Codename: Ocean Keeper. No, it was the mining sections that really left their mark on us, because of how downright sneaky developer RetroStyle Games has been.

When you head into a cave, you mind your way through the rock to gather gems and so on, but these gems don’t just magically teleport to your robot. Instead, you have to drag them behind you, which slows you down. Want to take all five treasures? Be prepared for a crawl up to the cave entrance.

So, when the timer’s against you, greed can easily be your undoing. On several occasions, we made it out with our bounty, only to lose half our armour because we’d failed to beat the timer. You can improve your carrying speed, but you’ll feel the urge to grab more and… well, you get the picture.

We’re eager to see if Codename: Ocean Keeper can deliver on the promise of its demo, though it doesn’t yet have a solid release date. But if you’re ready for some undersea blasting, coupled with poor decision-making, you can download the demo right now.

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