A steel lung, or ‘Iron Lung’ in English, is a closed machine that serves to perform a respiration assisted to clinical patients who can not breathe for themselves. In addition, this kind of devices resemble suspiciously to the mental image we have of what should be a submarine: a huge metal cylinder that keeps us alive in a place where we should not breathe. But, unlike submarines, steel lungs have become obsolete in favor of other forms of mechanical ventilation, less invasive and claustrophobic for those who suffer from them.

In The Garage with David Szymanski

Basic information

  • Developer: David Szymanski
  • Editor: David Szymanski
  • Platforms: PC
  • Proven version: PC
  • Availability: 10/03/2022

Iron Lung, the new horror game of David Szymanski-Creator of the celebrated retro shooter Dusk, puts us in the skin of a prisoner who promise freedom if he survives a suicidal mission. The particularity is that this person lives in a universe where all the living planets have disappeared in a mysterious way, being the last hope of humanity a moon with an ocean of blood in whose depths it is possible that there can still be life and, by extension, Resources to support it. In this way, our protagonist, we, have to go down in an submarine who is not prepared to descend as deep as we have to do it, and investigate those points totally blindly.

The playable mechanics are simple. We can move through our tiny submarine everything we want and interact with all the objects in it, but there are only three: the buttons on the control panel, the button to photograph what is in front of our submarine and an extinguisher. In addition to that, we have a map with the coordinates where each of our objectives is. In the control panel, our coordinates are indicated, the angle of the submarine and how much oxygen remains, because we do not even have a window or a periscope with which to see what we have before us. We can manipulate our angle and go forward or backward, and so we will move through the stage: completely blindly, guided only by our changing coordinates, and the rudimentary map they have made for us from the satellite photographs of some Depths in which nobody has been.

That’s all that Szymanski needs to make us feel terror. The only way to see the exterior is making photos, but only the photos we make of the target enclaves, and although we want to panic, oxygen is so limited and the structural integrity of our submarine so precarious that, to force, we will have to optimize it. That is, the game forces us to be efficient not because we want, but because we can not allow us to lose calm.

In this way, everything in Iron Lung is designed to make us feel that we are always on the edge of the precipice. The roads are increasingly difficult, water leaks are becoming more prominent, there are damage in the submarine, things collide against us when there should be nothing there, and the oxygen bar does not stop going down. It also does not help that the photos we make of the key points are increasingly disconcerting. Or that the sound of the metal combusting by the pressure, the blows we suffer, from the radar warning us of the obstacles, only helps to do these threats that are there, but we can not even see. Because there lies the essence of the game: we do not have time to lose, we can not afford to let us take us through terror if we do not want to die down there.

Iron Lung has an appropriate name because that looks like the submarine in which we go. A steel lung. A piece of obsolete technology that, in spite of everything, keeps us alive. It is claustrophobic, induces anxiety and amplifies every small sound, exactly as it does be locked in a steel lung; A place where we would prefer not to be, but that is our last chance to stay with life in a hostile world for us. And the result is a game that shows that it does not have hyperrealism or Gore to make us feel terror when there are extremely solid mechanics, a pressing atmosphere and absolutely extraordinary tempo control.