HomeGames & Tech'Submerged: Hidden Depths' preview

‘Submerged: Hidden Depths’ preview

I have fond memories of reviewing Submerged on Xbox One back in 2015. The third-person exploration game, from Uppercut Games, cast players in the role of Miku as she tried to save her badly injured younger brother Taku. Hidden Depths is a standalone sequel that released in late 2020 as a Google Stadia exclusive. The game is finally coming to PC and console next month. For the purposes of this preview I’ve played through the first hour.

If you played through the original Submerged then you’re going to find Hidden Depths very familiar. Actually, after an hour of play, I’ve been surprised just how similar the sequel is to the first game. Players once again take the role of Miku who is joined by her brother Taku. In my time with the game I was only able to control Miku but the trailer seems to indicate that we might also get to play as Taku later in the game.

The world looks much the same as in the first title with everything partially underwater. The ruins of the old buildings protrude to form little islands covered in vegetation. This time your mission isn’t to save your brother, it’s to save the world from a mysterious black mass. The water has blobs of it floating in it and buildings are covered in black tentacles. It’s this mass that appears to have drained most of the life from the world. Miku is also infected with the mass, but instead of killing her, she finds herself with the ability to create life.

Much like the first game, you must sail around the world. Your trusty telescope returns to allow you to scope out points of interest from afar. You can then set sail in an attempt to track down special seeds that can be used to purge the black mass and restore life to an area. These areas are often littered with creepy copies of the dead inhabitants that momentarily spring to life as you approach.

Submerged: Hidden Depths
Credit: Uppercut Games

Hidden Depths, like its predecessor, is a combat-free game. Here the focus is on exploration which makes for a rather chilled out and relaxing time. It’s a nice change of pace to the majority of games and provides a stress free experience. This is also true of the movement of Miku as the game really holds your hand, giving an almost on-rails experience at times. There’s no jump mechanism so climbing is simply done by pushing in the right direction. It’s also not possible to fall from a ledge or platform. Some players will welcome this design while others will be disappointed there isn’t more of a challenge.

The lack of challenge also appears to be present in the light puzzles which you have to solve. Nothing I’ve experienced so far in the game was particularly taxing. The toughest part seems to be tracking down all the various collectibles that are on offer. There are many of these to discover including creatures, lookout points, relics, boat upgrades and flowers. There are also story snippets to uncover which helps you make more sense of the world and its history.

Submerged: Hidden Depths
Credit: Uppercut Games

While there doesn’t seem to be much of an evolution in gameplay, the developers have obviously spent a lot of their time on improving how the game looks. Graphically it’s much more advanced than the first title with much better textures, environments and lighting. The characters have a nice cartoon-like aesthetic and are much more detailed with improved animation.

I didn’t encounter any bugs during my time with the game but do wonder if the developers are still working on performance. My mid-range gaming rig easily meets the recommended specs for the game but did seem to struggle a bit at times. This was most evident with dropped framerates and screen tearing. None of this caused a big issue but it was definitely noticeable.

Overall I’ve enjoyed my initial time with Submerged: Hidden Depths. However, I do have concerns that it’s a bit too similar to the first title. I’m hoping for some gameplay changes and a little more challenge across the rest of the game. Fans of the first title and players who enjoy exploration or just fancy something a bit different should keep this one on their radar.

Submerged: Hidden Depths is set to launch on 10th March, 2022 for PC/Steam and PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. EF Games will have a full review of the game shortly after launch.

Greg Ellwood
Greg Ellwoodhttp://www.entertainment-focus.com
Greg is the Deputy Editor of Entertainment Focus. He writes about Games, Tech and TV. You can find him on Xbox/PSN/Steam as Tahllian.

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