Released in 2015, Submerged hadn’t exactly been a big critical success. But the audience obviously followed enough that Uppercut Games, its developer, decided to give it a sequel. Let’s measure the water temperature of this adventure and exploration game in which the oceans have drowned the world.
If you missed the previous episode
Submerged: Hidden Depths is the direct sequel to Submerged released in 2015 and also developed by Uppercut Games. In this one we learned that the world had been drowned when the oceans rose and a strange entity called the Mass had appeared.
The Mass absorbed the living species, leaving behind only soulless copies. During the first game, a young girl named Miku went to one of the submerged cities to find a cure for her brother Taku. But Miku was hit by the Mass, which, rather than killing her, left a strange mark on her right arm. Convinced that this mark can help the world, Miku and a now-healed Taku travel the sunken lands, searching for a new home.
An interest in question
This preview began as Miku and Taku reached a ruin in the center of what appears to be the game’s open world. The game then guided us through what seems to be the main activity of the title: exploring the ruins for a “seed” and taking it to a place where it can be placed in the Mace, which seems to calm it down and give it a more flowery appearance. Why not. That said, this first ruin isn’t very exciting to navigate. The game doesn’t escape the tendency to fill in with collectible stuff, but the construction of this ruin is too linear to be interesting. Almost everything is in our way.
I must say that if this preview had been limited to the exploration of this first place, I would have had big fears for the interest of the game. Fortunately for me, the chance of exploring the open world led me to a second ruin, much bigger than the first one. It is mostly divided into several areas where you have to lug the seed to the Mass at the top of the ruin, which lessens that feeling of following a corridor. I can only hope that the other locations will have a structure more like this second ruin rather than the first.
What about failed acts?
I can’t say that I’m convinced by this first contact with Submerged: Hidden Depths. Two points in particular leave me a bit skeptical. The first one concerns the strange gap between the fact that the game is obviously a walking-sim in its gameplay and a level construction that seems to lean towards light platforming. Our heroes will regularly climb, balance on a wooden board, cross a hole by jumping from pillar to pillar but… without the player doing anything other than keeping his stick forward. All of these moves are automatic and I felt a little frustrated at not being able to jump “myself.”
The other point I’m not convinced about is the narration. As I said above, there are regularly collectibles, including journals usually placed near copies of humans affected by the Mass. While one would expect to be able to read them to learn more about the last moments of their authors, it is not the case. In fact, you have to collect all the diaries of a place to get a brief commentary on the world’s past. Not sure if this is enough to fully immerse oneself in the game.
It’s hard to really project the future potential of the game. The ambition to make a game of serene exploration seems to be kept, but will it not be too serene, precisely. It is also worth remembering that the first Submerged lasted just over two hours. This one seems a bit longer, but we’ll keep fingers crossed that it will manage to provide interest over the length. We’ll have the answer very soon since the game will arrive in stock on March 10th.