Survival is mankind’s strongest instinct. Yet, when you are facing an all-powerful foe, all hope is bound to be lost. Consequently, you’ll turn to your family for support as you try to overcome the heinous obstacles in your path. Submerged: Hidden Depths captures this solitude and despair in its melancholy, but peaceful story.
Developed and published by Uppercut Games, this is a relaxing but sombre adventure title. It is the sequel to Submerged the award-winning game. Subsequently, it has strong foundations that evolve in this instalment. A word of warning, however, this won’t be for everyone because of its lack of combat and slow pace. Yet, if you love moody music, playful cutscenes, and simple puzzles, then this is definitely for you.
Submerged: Hidden Depths has a simple story.
A gift is supposed to be a wonderful and heartfelt thing. Therefore, you wouldn’t expect one to turn you into an outsider. This is what happens to Miku and Taku, the sibling protagonists in this tale. Miku was gifted a special power that causes flowers to grow from her arm. People are scared of this gift and banish the pair from their homes. However, they shouldn’t have acted so rashly. This ability overcomes the black roots that are threatening mankind. Consequently, the pair must work together to find seeds to destroy the plants and save the world.
This is about the crux of the story. Once the opening scenes play out, there isn’t much acknowledgement of its existence. Yet, this wasn’t a bad thing as the action focuses heavily on the siblings and the situation. I adored the bond between the pair and the jovial moments they shared. Their relationship juxtaposes the melancholy world you explore, and it was a bittersweet experience.
Much of the action is a blend of Kevin Costner’s Waterworld and the game The Falconeer. I make these comparisons because there are distinct elements of despair, destruction, and loss. Alongside this, there is a large and sparse world to explore, with undertones of fear and isolation. In short, it’s not a laugh a minute, but it is endearing and you’ll adore the lead characters.
No combat, no violence, just exploration!
Adventure games rarely ignore combat mechanics. However, Submerged: Hidden Depths does just that. The developers have created an ultra-relaxing title that has no fighting or violence at its core. This may confuse or disappoint some, but I found it to be refreshing and brave. Moreover, this ensured the other key elements took centre stage.
At the heart of the gameplay is exploration. You sail a decrepit vessel between islands, lookouts, relics, and more. It is an essential tool that allows you to search ruins and progress the story.
Alongside the vast ocean is a ridiculous amount of collectables to find. There are ship pieces to alter your boat’s appearance, flowers to collect, animals to tag, and diary entries to find. These snippets of information were wonderful as they drip-fed the lore of the land. This was an excellent idea, as it added some much-needed depth.
Puzzles and seeds.
The aforementioned black roots can only be overcome with Miku’s gift and by collecting enormous seeds. I admit it was a bizarre idea that I never understood. What’s more, it was rarely challenging to achieve. Consequently, I spent my time wondering if the action would ever become harder.
This lack of a challenge sadly leeches into the puzzling moments, and this was frustrating. I could accept the lack of combat and the other simple elements. However, I expected the puzzles to test me. At best, you’re searching for any collectables or hidden paths. At worse, the answer is given to you on a plate. I get the relaxed vibe, but I think it went a little too far.
Submerged: Hidden Depths looks nice, but it has issues.
As you begin your journey, the vivid colours and azure ocean are noticeable. They stand out like a sore thumb amongst the destruction before you. What’s more, there is a vast emptiness that’s haunting, yet alluring. All these elements combine to add to the sombre and melancholy atmosphere. On top of this, there is a fascinating blend of landmarks to visit and islands/buildings to explore. Subsequently, you won’t tire of exploring this dank world.
However, it’s not perfect! There are many visual glitches in both the cinematic and the open gameplay. Alongside this, it’s hard to identify steps and ledges and this makes it tough to navigate tight spaces. Unfortunately, this impacts the gameplay, and I wished it was better polished.
The graphics were problematic at times, but the audio was perfect. Its sombre tones set the mood while highlighting the protagonist’s plight. With a lack of spoken dialogue, I was amazed by how emotive it was. The use of tone and pitch brilliantly deliver poignant moments and I adored it.
Easy to understand controls.
A simple game needs simple controls, right? Absolutely it does and thankfully Submerged: Hidden Depths is as straightforward as you can hope for. With an excellent UI, highlighted button commands, and basic instructions, you will not struggle to master this.
The story lasts between 4 to 5 hours with another 3 or so are needed to mop up the loose ends. Furthermore, there is a ridiculous amount of collectables to find and a reasonably large world to explore. Consequently, there is some longevity and replay value.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is relaxing but lacks challenge.
I was desperate for Submerged: Hidden Depths to jump to the next level. Sadly, though, it rigidly sticks to its guns, and that was frustrating. Yes, it’s relaxing and rewarding when you collect every seed. However, I wanted more. It’s a great game, but it wasn’t for me, sadly. All things considered though, I recommend you to buy it here! Will the siblings save the world or is the damage already done? Sail the ocean, find the seeds, and destroy the black roots.