Submerged: Hidden Depths is a game from Uppercut Games, a studio founded by the people who worked on the BioShock series. First, Hidden Depths came out on Stadia, and now it has reached other platforms. Someone might want to call it a walking simulator – there is no action at all, but a lot of exploration and contemplation. But this is fundamentally wrong – here we practically do not walk, but most of the time we swim, jump and climb. Well, we contemplate, of course – we still need to look for such a beautiful game …
Submerged: Hidden Depths is Mass Effect in the water world
Submerged: Hidden Depths is already a sequel. The first part was released in 2015 and received different responses – from “You can play only if there is absolutely nothing to do” to absolute delight. The second in everything has become better and more diverse. To start with, now we can play not only for the girl Miku, but also for her brother Tiku. In the first part, the sister took care of the wounded brother, but here they are already traveling together. And in the end it becomes rather bad, on the contrary, Miku.
The thing is that the girl interacted with a certain Mass that absorbs plants, animals and people, turning them into empty forms. It sounds complicated, but consider that this is another rubbish that poisons everything around. And because of this, Mika received a gift, which turned out to be a curse – the girl began to be afraid, she and her brother were driven from everywhere, and Tika was even wounded. In the first part, the sister tried to save the dying brother, and in the continuation, it was already time for them to deal with the Mass.
We are still traveling on a small fishing boat through a beautiful flooded city, but now our task is not to search for resources, but to cleanse the locations from black filth. To do this, we first find such places in the telescope, swim there, and Miku (only a girl is capable of this) looks for a seed there, frees it from the trap and places it in the roots – after that everything around is cleared, black growths and ghost people disappear.
Why does the trap in which the seeds are sharpened consist of wires connected to some kind of remotes and receivers? What is this black giant that wanders through the water among the buildings and dreams of Mick in nightmares? What is going on? At first, nothing is really clear, but it is all the more interesting to release the seeds, find diaries and clarify the details about the misadventures of the brother and sister. And you are already looking forward to the final – there is more tension in the sequel from the point of view of history, and it is interesting to know how it all ends.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is non-contact acrobatics
As before, to get to the goal, Miku (and sometimes her brother steps in) must jump, climb sheer walls, and generally do acrobatics. To do this, we practically do not need to do anything. Places for interaction are marked in red, and it is enough to run up to them, press the up/down/left/right arrow, and the character will do everything himself – jump, climb the wall or go down, jump from the ledge onto the vines located on the right, and climb further along them .
But this does not mean that everything is so primitive. First, there is more interaction with levers that open doors, lower bridges, and so on. Somewhere, in order to pave the way, you first need to find a special sphere and place it in the appropriate recess in the floor. And somewhere you can use a boat to remove an obstacle or move a floating structure and thus build a crossing.
But most importantly, the levels themselves – all these ruins, towers and half-submerged buildings – have become larger, higher and more complex in terms of architecture and design. First you need to find a seed, then lower or raise it on a special structure to the roots, and then Miku herself must figure out how to get there. There are a lot of options – many paths lead to diaries, flowers and other collectibles. And although the general scheme is always the same, the locations are different, and they are very interestingly designed. Designers know how to surprise, impress, and puzzle – you don’t always immediately understand where to crawl and jump. And in the end I want to explore and find everything.
In general, these are the key words for understanding Submerged: Hidden Depths – yes, here you want to explore and find everything. And see everything. The sequel has more tension, acrobatics and spatial puzzles, but it is still an insanely beautiful adventure that takes place with pleasant music and does not drive you anywhere, does not limit you in anything. If you want, look for and clear locations with seeds to move through history, or if you want, just swim through this picturesque water world, feeling like a real Columbus discoverer.
Some skyscrapers appeared on the horizon, and to the left – a huge skeleton of a ship. Even further away is a rickety tower, most likely an observation tower, from which you can view the surroundings through a telescope and add new marks to the map. And what’s that? Seems to be half-submerged ruins, reminiscent of a cathedral. And here the Eiffel Tower seems to have fallen.
It’s tempting to swim to everything, especially since along the way you can find the next relics, sights, improvements needed to speed up the boat, or meet another outlandish fish – the game takes into account how many animals we discover. We also collect style items to unlock new skins for the sister and brother and for the boat.
Of course, Submerged: Hidden Depths could have been given a little more gameplay and spice. And above all, to make the boat itself more vulnerable and realistic, so that the heroes would look for fuel for it and periodically repair it. But this is from the area of the same claims that were made to Cloudpunk – the same exploratory adventure, only about flying cars in cyberpunk. In this case, it would be a game with a different concept, in which there would already be less meditative contemplation. This must be understood and accepted. Well, or not run it at all.
Pros: fascinating story; a picturesque water world that you want to explore; addictive, not particularly straining, but not completely relaxing gameplay, which became more diverse in the sequel; excellent level design; many collectibles; the game looks and sounds amazing.
Cons: the gameplay is still not enough; the puzzles and acrobatic routines are essentially the same throughout the game.