A strange subgenre is videogames I call “fleshy Bummer-Horror”. These games thrive on gross, meat-filled brutalism. Walls and floors writhe, blood flows freely and there is a high chance of getting necrotising fasciitis. You can think of Carrion’s relentless blob or Binding on Isaac’s matrixide.
Swallow The Sea is the latest addition to this growing list of visually-gross video games. It rose up the ranks on using a “pay as you like” model before reaching Steam last month.
You begin your life as an underwater zygote in a 15-minute run. Then you explore the surrounding waters which are full lifeforms that can feed on them. Feeding Frenzy’s fish-eat-fish approach is reinterpreted with skull-faced and prehensile worms grasping at you with uncannily large teeth.
Swallow the Sea’s sea life isn’t just plagued by strangely phallic predators. Your undersea home shifts quickly from rocky passageways into fleshy, decayed tunnels after tunnel. It is clear that the world above these waters is becoming increasingly sick. In the eyes of larger lifeforms, it appears that I am a parasite. It is easy to picture Swallow the Sea occurring in poisoned water used for waste disposal, which was filled with the remains of dead animals that had no chance of survival. It is a common sight in our modern age.