Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Submerged: Hidden Depths Is A Hopeful Dystopian Story

Submerged: Hidden Depths shows a ruined city underwater with a black growth covering everything above the waves. Players will take on the role of both Miku and her brother. Miku has been touched by The Mass, which has made them both outcasts. The dome is their current home and it’s where players will automatically return after planting each seed. This is to appease the “giant” whose magic was abused for one man’s power.

Playstation

There’s no contact with other living people. The villagers only exist as remnants that stand or lounge around, until Miku passes and they point….somewhere. This could lead to the world filling empty. Instead the siblings are surrounded by the remnants of animals like dolphins, breaching whales, various sea birds, schools of colorful fish, and many other animals to discover. Submerged has no combat and focuses more on exploration. Players aren’t rushed to find all ten seeds and the game continues after the campaign finishes. 

The narrative is mostly given through diary pages scattered throughout the map. Once a set has been completed, players get another snippet of the siblings backstory or lore. When there is dialogue it’s Miku stating her desire to find a place that accepts her “gift”. Before her goal changes to turn the city players have been exploring into their home. Miku herself isn’t named until the very end of the game when her brother finally says it. The characters are expressed mostly through their personal themes that play when they leave the boat. 

This lack of direction helps the world feel larger than it is. Submerged does have things that help. The spyglass mechanic finds things directly within the line of sight, while finding lookouts highlights things on your map. A lot of what players will collect are cosmetics or collectibles. These can be ignored by anyone who isn’t going for a completionist run, but blue gears show boat upgrades. Getting around will be a lot faster once enough parts have been collected. Even this doesn’t feel mandatory, however. Every location with a seed acts as a fast travel point after the seed has been planted. 

The only thing that can really throw a wrench in progression is there’s no glaring indication of a new mechanic being introduced. Before players start the game, they’re asked to choose a guide color. This is important. Buoys and pictographs that give directions are going to be in this color. The pictographs are also easy to miss. When exploring items will glow, but when players suddenly need to pull down bridges or tow something these images will not. Players will need to be observant to pick up on all the environmental clues to get through each location.

The locations can also be a little tedious to get through. As the game progresses there’s more backtracking and sometimes overly convoluted ways of getting around. Players who enjoy platforming puzzles might enjoy the challenge though. 

Submerged offers a casual experience with breathtaking moments despite most of its world being underwater. Seeing the blackened vines and globs in the water change to green as Miku brings life back is extremely satisfying. With no deadlines or enemies, players can give into their need to see every corner without fear. Diligent players can at least have a good grasp of the story. Even if they don’t find all fifty-six “city history” or fourty “our story” entries. This is a great choice for a cozy night of gaming.

Dia Tucker

Hello, fellow adventurers! I’m Dia Tucker, dwelling amidst the vibrant cultures and landscapes of the United States. My journey into the mesmerizing universes hidden within video games began in the whimsical days of my childhood. The epic narratives of the "Mass Effect" and "Elder Scrolls" series have always held a special place in my heart, guiding me through countless worlds and experiences. When I’m not crafting tales through words, you’ll find me delving into the boundless realms of MMOs, embarking on quests, and forging memories with companions from every corner of the globe. I invite you to join me as I share stories, insights, and adventures from both the pixelated worlds and the realms I create with words.

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