Shinsekai: Into the Depths is a deep dive into an expansive underwater world. Beginning life as an Apple Arcade exclusive, the Metroidvania, survival puzzler has tunnelled its way to the Nintendo Switch.
Full disclosure. Whenever I hear the words ‘mobile game’, I shudder. All I think of is shovelware trash, littered with microtransactions. Games that are not for real gamers. Yes, when it comes to my views on mobile games, I’m narrow-minded. In steps Capcom, a company who I adore and have arguably been the best developer in recent years. Could they finally pull my head out of my arse? In short, the answer is yes.
In Shinsekai: Into the Depths, you take control of a silent, nameless protagonist who has been forced to take refuge in the ocean due to the land above being covered in ice. It is here where you begin your odyssey into the unknown.
As with other Metroidvania titles, you are expected to explore, collect items and level up in order to progress. Due to the world’s design, it is enthralling to explore. The areas are interconnected giving a sense of satisfaction when opening shortcuts. A surprising element is a focus on survival. You are constantly focusing on your air canisters which can easily be damaged or even destroyed from a bad landing or enemy attack. What happens if you lose these? Simple. Ya die! As a result, you scour the map, for pockets of air, save points or air tanks to ensure you survive.
On top of this, you will face a myriad of sea-dwelling creatures. However, there is no need to worry as you will slowly gain an arsenal of weapons that will make short work of these, allowing you to get back to exploring, surviving and… excavating. Yes, the game also requires you to craft ammunition, consumables and suit upgrades which are key to progress in the game. This means that you will constantly be searching for materials whilst exploring.
Focusing on the game’s controls, this is where the game begins to sink. Movement is slow and at times unresponsive. Floating around the world is fun but the damage you receive from landing badly is inconsistent. Attacks seem to take an age to complete, making boss fights tougher than they should be.
Graphically the game looks like a PS2 game and this is obviously due to the restraints released on mobile. However, I wouldn’t let this put you off. The character animations are believable and the designs are interesting and varied, it just looks like it was released over a decade ago.
Reminiscent of excellent bands such as Low Roar and Sigur Ros, the beautiful soundscapes created put you in a tranquil state which complements the gameplay and art style. The audio mixing is also a highlight as sounds come from every angle to create a feeling of isolation and solitude (ensure you wear headphones). The game also features a Jukebox Mode which also suggests the love and passion that went into the sound design.
In terms of length, it will take about 7 to 8 hours to complete which is more than I expected but does it outstay its welcome? Unfortunately, it does. Although I enjoyed my time in this nautical world, the last hour or two felt a bit long in the tooth. The game does enough up to that point to keep it feeling fresh, but once you have upgraded your character, experienced the vehicle, there’s nothing else added to make the last third memorable. The game also features two different endings, however, I highly doubt that you’ll be invested enough to do a second playthrough.
Shinsekai: Into the Depths has altered my views on mobile gaming. This is a strong Metroidvania game which falters in the final third. The exploration is exhilarating but the combat is a little lacklustre. Fans of experimental indie titles will enjoy their time with the game and due to this, I award it a Thumb Culture Silver Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.
This article was written by Jaz Sagoo