The latest installment in the Submerged series sees two siblings, a brother and sister sailing, climbing, and exploring a changed world, engulfed in equal measure by waves and mysteries. The developers at Uppercut Games continue their “combat-free” approach to game development in their newest game to splendid results. In our Submerged Hidden Depths preview, we’ll share our thoughts on the brief glimpse into this sea-bound adventure.
The world has drowned. The black tendrils of the mysterious Mass coil themselves around all that you see. Their slimy bulk twists around buildings and remnants of what was before. The two siblings find themselves on a boat with nowhere to go and perhaps, something to prove. Landing on the nearest available spot of dry land, you take control of the sister and delve into the abandoned world.
Even with the small amount of time spent with the game, what stands out is the lived-in quality that the subtle positioning of objects provides. Scores of fish are hung to dry in the sun, now rotting and swarmed by flies. There is no one to be found around each set table you come across. Moving around each location, you also stumble into bundles of vines in the uncanny shapes of humans. The details don’t end there, and you can see the proof of the harsh conditions of the world even on your brother’s body.
Living isn’t easy in this swallowed world, and no one has escaped the scratches of fate. Except the visual clues left by the developers, we can find more about the world through journals lying all over each location. Upon finding the required number, we learn additional information about the story. Our Submerged Hidden Depths preview surges forward, and after finding a mysterious green orb used as a power source, we rip it free and place it in its required spot. The environment changes, and we are seamlessly taught the goal of the game – purge the corruption wherever you spot it.
The term used by the developers themselves is relaxsploration, which is extremely apt. Seas and oceans may have laid claim to the land, but they seemed to have eradicated any enemies as well. Tops of buildings and ruined towers sit hauntingly vacant and devoid of anything that could harm you. The game takes full advantage of this, structuring the puzzles and traversal accordingly.
Hankering for more relaxing games? Check out our review on Before Your Eyes.
In this Submerged Hidden Depths preview, we found that every move you make is streamlined to perfection. The boat you use to travel between your available exploration locations moves easily and realistically enough not to trouble you. The telescope used for scouting your next target has one prompt for usage and another to zoom in and out, accordingly. The interaction with the environment happens like magic, you approach a climbable ledge or wall, and with the press of a button, you’re scaling a sheer wall like a veteran of Assassin’s Creed.
With your traversal hassle reduced to zero, the impeccable audio design comes in to lend a helping shoulder. If you’re close to something worth your attention, a pleasant female voice rises in volume to alert you to a collectible that could be an interesting journal entry or one of the scattered pieces of boat styles that can make you go from this:
Collectables are all around, and they both enhance the experience of relaxsploration and show off the care the developers put into the whole world that surrounds you. The language of the siblings was another neat piece of worldbuilding that helped immersion by a mile. The words that you hear are near enough to current-day English to almost sound familiar, some are even the ones we use, yet at the same time, the change is evident. Sailing the waves, you might even feel melancholy akin to the masterful work of Nier Automata’s soundtrack.
Based on our limited time with Submerged Hidden Depths, we can say that this easy to play and easier to enjoy exploration game about the heartwarming adventure of two siblings drifting through the leftovers of a world that has ended might be just the thing for unwinding after any stressful day or week.