Originally released back in 2015, the original Submerged was a game that I never played. Almost seven years later the sequel Submerged: Hidden Depth just released today. Despite never playing the original game, I was intrigued by the sequel as it seemed like an interesting and relaxing exploration game set in an interesting world. Submerged: Hidden Depths is a pretty fun and relaxing exploration game even if its more basic gameplay may not be for everyone.
In Submerged: Hidden Depths you play as siblings Miku and Taku. The world has been devastated by a mysterious force. The buildings which once made up a thriving city have crumbled and much of the city is currently underwater. With no other humans in sight, the siblings explore the ruins and try to restore the world by using a mysterious power that they were gifted. Can the siblings find their way in an abandoned world and help save it in the process?
In some ways it is kind of hard to describe the gameplay of Submerged: Hidden Depths. If I had to classify it into a genre, it probably best fits the exploration genre. The game has no combat and there is no way to die. Much of the gameplay is built around just taking your boat around the sunken city looking for things to collect. While sailing you can use your telescope to search the horizon looking for things to collect and buildings to dock at. Many of these are cosmetic while others improve your boat. You will also find documents which will help flesh out the backstory of the game’s world.
Outside of just collecting things scattered around the water, there are I believe ten main ruins for you to explore. In each ruin there are a number of collectibles to pick up. The main objective of each ruin is to “purify” it. This basically entails finding a green magical orb and bringing it to a specific spot in the ruin. This will cleanse the ruin of the mysterious force. Standing in your way are various obstacles that you need to overcome.
The gameplay of each ruin is basically broken up into two main mechanics. The game has some light puzzle solving which mostly entails pressing buttons and using levers. Basically you just have to interact with objects in the environment which then open up a path forward.
Otherwise the game has a sort of platforming mechanic. This is not like your typical platformer as you don’t actually jump yourself. Basically you just move towards an area where you can jump and the game does it automatically for you. You will jump across gaps, climb ladders/pipes, and perform various other platforming actions in order to make progress.
Ultimately I had some mixed feelings about Submerged: Hidden Depths. I had fun with the game, but the game is not going to be for everyone.
I think a lot of this is due to the gameplay. In a lot of ways the gameplay is pretty basic. The platforming really isn’t platforming as you just walk toward areas marked by a specific color which indicates that you can jump towards it/climb it. The game then does all of the platforming for you. There is no skill to it and there is no way to fail. The puzzle solving is not much better as the puzzles are usually pretty simple and obvious.
While the main gameplay could have been more engaging, there is something about it that was still pretty fun. I think this is mostly because the game was built to be a relaxing exploration game where you could take your time. There is no way to die in the game and there is no time pressure or anything else that could apply any sort of pressure on players. You are basically just exploring a sunken city. The sailing mechanic only consists of occasional speed boosts and steering. Yet for some reason it is satisfying sailing through the sunken city looking for the various collectibles scattered throughout the world. While finding the collectibles has no real impact on the main story/game, it was still surprising compelling finding them.
This ultimately leads to a really easy game. In a way this works for Submerged: Hidden Depths as it is trying to be a relaxing experience. I kind of wish there was a little more to the actual gameplay though. There is no challenge to the game as you can’t die/fail. All you can do is waste time trying to figure out how to proceed. Finding some of the collectibles can be a little difficult. The main gameplay is not particularly challenging though. Basically if you are looking for a challenging game or one where the gameplay is deeper, Submerged: Hidden Depths may not be the game you are looking for.
As for the story and atmosphere I thought the game did a pretty good job. For an indie game I thought the game’s visuals were quite good. The world is colorful and has quite a bit of detail. The world of Submerged: Hidden Depths is interesting to explore as you sail between the remains of a long gone civilization and explore the few remains still above water. The character design is quite good as well. For an exploration game like this, the visuals hold up well.
As for the game’s story it is going to appeal to some more than others. Submerged: Hidden Depths is the sequel to the original Submerged which is a game that I actually never played. The game seems to occasionally make some minor references to the original game. There are little things that I probably missed out by not playing the original game. I don’t really think there is a need to play the original game in order to follow what is going on in the sequel as it seems to mostly be a stand alone story.
The story itself is mostly told through the various writings/documents you discover in your journey as well as the environment itself. When you collect enough documents you get a little story that tells you what happened to the world and the main characters in the past. The characters rarely speak and when they do its not in English. The story is on the simple side, but it works well for the type of game that Submerged: Hidden Depths is.
As for Submerged: Hidden Depths’ length it really depends on what type of player that you are. Those that are going to just focus on progressing the main story forward without caring about the collectibles will take considerably less time than someone that actively tries to find all of the collectibles. I would guess most players will probably get around 5-8 hours out of the game. If you try to find all of the collectibles it will probably take a little longer. If you just do the bare minimum, it may take a little less time.
Ultimately I had fun playing Submerged: Hidden Depths but it is not going to be for everyone. The gameplay for the most part is on the simple side. You can’t die/fail, the platforming basically entails moving towards designated areas, and the puzzle solving is really simple. Despite this I still found the game to be fun as it is surprisingly compelling exploring the ruins and sailing around. The game’s visuals are quite good for an indie game, and the story is interesting even if it is mostly told through writings you find while exploring.
Because of all of this I think a lot of people are going to have conflicting thoughts about Submerged: Hidden Depths. If gameplay is key to you and the relaxing exploration mechanics don’t sound all that interesting, I don’t see the game being for you. Those that are looking for a relaxing exploration game set in an interesting world though will likely enjoy Submerged: Hidden Depths and should consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Uppercut Games Pty Ltd for the review copy of Submerged: Hidden Depths 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.