Barotrauma has been an early-access submarine survival horror game for the past four years and was finally fully released on March 13th, 2023. Despite its early access; Barotrauma has successfully gained quite a fan base and loyal members supporting it throughout its development via Discord and other social media platforms. Since its introduction four years ago, the developers have refined many aspects of their game ranging from monsters and other encounters to graphics, to managing the player’s submarine. Developers have taken into consideration feedback from their social following and have implemented changes based on this, fixing bugs and patching issues prior to the release date.


Barotrauma takes place on various different submarines that the player can choose from, each with a wide range of style and difficulty. This makes for a fully customizable experience for those more dedicated players. Within your sub, you will be given the choice to man the many roles that are employed ranging from Captain, Engineer, Security, Medical Officer, and Assistant with one other being the Traitor which is only accessible through multiplayer. Barotrauma can quickly become more difficult and frustrating when attempting to play single player as you have to man all the roles and maintain the submarine’s stats by yourself. You must guide your submarine through various hazards, mishaps, monster encounters, and other varying issues which include environmental and external forces. I found as a new player that the tutorial didn’t feel fleshed out enough to fully help in guiding me in what I needed to do within the basics, and that it heavily felt as though playing alone was doing a disservice to the overall gameplay. With this in mind, it will take players that are just picking the game up quite some time to figure it out which may decrease interest in continuing. The player is thrown a large amount of information all at once through text dumps and small environmental cues which can be overwhelming. Character creation felt strangely out of place as I didn’t feel it was important to make any kind of character that I liked and more just placeholders for the submarine’s roles. The character creation wasn’t for me, it was just to get the game going as you will rarely get to see your characters in their full glory due to the game being 2D and rather dark at many times.


The sound design was pretty spot on, I never found the music feeling out of place or found myself questioning why a decision was made for it to be played at any given time. Barotrauma is heavily stylized to those who enjoy the 2D side-scrolling almost roguelike gameplay, but with rather jarring ragdoll mechanics on your character in front of a still background. The ragdoll mechanics felt as though they took away from the immersion and seriousness that surviving had and could be seen as more of a comedy for those playing with their friends or online in groups. The gameplay definitely rewards those with persistence, you won’t master any given role on your first try and you will certainly die over and over again to simply figure out that you didn’t have the right item at the right time, or that someone on the ship has died somewhere and was the key to survival. The difficulty ramps up at random times as well, no two gameplays will be alike so buckle up for an experience and a half, it certainly does have its share of replayability. This can also be seen as a drawback for those looking for more of a casual game experience.

Barotrauma is certainly a well-thought-out game with many hours of gameplay to offer those who are willing to stick through it and learn from their mistakes, I would not recommend this to those looking to fill their single-player cravings but to those with friends who can enjoy the silly mechanics and events that may occur. That being said, it could definitely use a few tweaks in the guidance department. A “new player-friendly” difficulty would be a welcomed addition to better explain the variety of mechanics and prevent disinterest.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

(Our Rating System Explained)


  • Stylized 2D gameplay with refined graphical interfaces
  • Replayability
  • Social and comedic at times to play with a group of friends


  • Not single player friendly
  • Lacking a truly helpful tutorial
  • Jarring character movements resembling old flash games
  • Too many systems, roles, rules, tragedies, and gameplay mechanics are thrown at you at once

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Trevor Dyer