When I first saw Samudra a couple things stood out to me. First it was hard not to take notice of the game’s visual style. I generally love when games utilize a hand drawn style and the visuals in Samudra’s trailers looked fantastic. Second the game had already received acolades/awards which always makes me take notice. Finally the whole theme/mission of the game was intriguing. It is hard not to take notice of a game that is trying to bring awareness to pollution in our oceans with profits from the game being used to help fund projects to clean up our oceans/waterways. Because of all of these reasons I was intrigued to see what Samudra had to offer. Samudra’s gameplay, while solid, takes a backseat to the game’s stunning visuals and atmosphere.
Your journey in Samudra begins with your character, a young child, falling deep into the ocean. They wake up at the bottom of the ocean in a world filled with garbage and other pollution. Your goal is to make your way back to the surface. Along your journey you will try to help the sea creatures negatively impacted by the pollution as well as more nefarious forces that are intent on stopping you from reaching the surface. Can you reach the surface and possibly help fix some of the issues created by the pollution along the way?
If I were to describe the gameplay of Samudra I would say that it feels like an adventure game that utilizes elements of a number of other genres. The basic objective of the game is to continue your journey towards the surface. Every so often you will encounter various obstacles that will stand in your way. These obstacles basically introduce the various different mechanics into the game.
I would say the biggest mechanic is probably puzzle solving. You will regularly encounter different types of puzzles that you must solve in order to make a path for you to progress forward. The types of puzzles vary but most involve figuring out the right order to interact with switches, levers, and objects to open a path forward.
Outside of the puzzles, I would say that most of the other obstacles can be divided into stealth and chase sequences. The game has a pretty simple stealth mechanic. Basically there will be enemies with a visible vision field which you have to avoid. You need to duck behind obstacles when they turn your way and move forward when they look away. The chase sequences basically entail something chasing you where you have to avoid obstacles and press the interact button at the right times to jump over gaps/avoid obstacles/etc.
Ultimately I had some mixed feelings about the gameplay. I found the game to generally be fun, but the gameplay wasn’t something truly original where I would tell people that they absolutely had to experience it. I actually found the gameplay to start off a little slow where the game didn’t really do anything to distinguish itself. As the game progressed though the gameplay started to pick up. Basically if you have ever played an adventure game with an emphasis on puzzles I think you should have a good idea of whether you will enjoy Samudra.
Probably the biggest problem that I had with the gameplay is just that the controls weren’t always the most precise. In most cases it didn’t really matter as Samudra isn’t the type of game that really needs precise controls as it usually isn’t an action packed game that requires precise timing. There were a few times though where the controls did disrupt the gameplay. The jumps were not always as precise as I would have liked and it was sometimes hard to find the right place where I had to be to interact with some objects. I also encountered a few bugs while playing the game that forced me to restart from the last checkpoint.
As for the Samudra’s difficulty I would say that it is on the easier side. I think there might have been one puzzle (I believe it was optional) that I took some time to solve. Most of the other puzzles I solved right away though. This was mostly because the puzzle design is pretty straightforward where there aren’t many potential solutions. The other gameplay elements were pretty easy as well. A few of the chase sequences can be somewhat hard, but the stealth elements are quite easy if you take your time. The easy difficulty is not necessarily a problem for the game as it does fit with the more laid back feel of the game. If you are looking for a challenging game though, you may be a little disappointed by it.
While the gameplay is fun enough, I think the theme and atmosphere is where Samudra really stands out. The story doesn’t use any actual dialog as it is told though the environment itself and expressions/symbols. The game is basically language independent. Because of this the game doesn’t really come right out and narrate the story as you have to pick up a lot of it through context clues. Due to this players will get more or less out of the story based on how they interpret what is going on. I generally liked the story. It starts a little slow as it seems like you are just exploring the ocean after it has been filled with garbage. After a while though the story starts to expand creating a really interesting world to explore. I am not going to go into too many details to avoid spoilers, but the story kind of blends realistic elements about the dangers of pollution with more fantastical elements. The story does have a pretty big environmentalism angle which is not surprising as profits from the game are going towards reducing pollution in our oceans and waterways. The story may not be for everyone, but I generally enjoyed it.
Even better than the story are the visuals. The game utilizes a hand drawn style that looks fantastic. In some ways the game looks like an animated movie. The game features quite a few different locales which all look nice and are interesting as you see a world that has been impacted by the pollution that has been dumped into it. Just like the story the visuals blend realism and fantasy creating an interesting world that you want to explore. The game’s audio helps support the visuals as well creating a really immersive experience. If the underwater theme with an emphasis on the effects of pollution interests you at all, I think you will likely really like the game’s atmosphere.
As for Samudra’s length I wouldn’t say the game is particularly long, but that will somewhat depend on what you want to get out of it. If you just focus on the basics required to progress in the game, I think most players could beat the game within 3-4 hours. The game does feature quite a few secrets, hidden areas and collectibles though. If you want to search all of these out it will add time to the game. Finding all of the collectibles on your first time through the game can be kind of hard as the game will regularly prevent you from going back if you progress too far in an area. This will force you to come back to areas that you have visited before in order to find the collectibles that you missed out on. I would guess to 100% the game it may add a couple hours to the length. Outside of finding the collectibles/hidden secrets though, there isn’t a lot of replay value to the game outside of playing through the story again.
At the end of the day Samudra is a solid fun little adventure game. The gameplay is a mixture of adventure mechanics with puzzles and some light stealth. The gameplay is fun, but there is nothing about it that is particularly original. There are some occasional minor issues with the controls, and I wouldn’t consider the game to be particularly difficult. The game seems to have had a greater emphasis placed on its story/atmosphere than the gameplay. The story and atmosphere are the game’s standout elements in my opinion. The game utilizes a hand-drawn style which looks great and works really well for the game. The game doesn’t utilize any dialog, but it still tells a compelling story in an interesting world mixing realism and fantasy.
My recommendation for Samudra mostly comes down to your thoughts on the story/atmosphere. This is mostly due to the gameplay being fun enough, but there isn’t anything special enough about it to make it stand out against other similar games. If the story/atmosphere doesn’t really appeal to you, Samudra probably won’t be the game for you. Those intrigued by the story and atmosphere though should enjoy Samudra and consider picking it up.
Buy Samudra online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Khayalan Arts for the review copy of Samudra used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.