I think it’s safe to say that everyone has gone through an experience where you want to play something however, the thought of dealing with the competitive nature of online games just isn’t the vibe you want. Instead, you search for a game that doesn’t take a lot of effort to play. Well, look no further, it just so happens that I have the perfect solution for you. Described best as a “relaxploration” game, Uppercut Games Submerged Hidden Depths is the second addition to the series. A game that allows you to sit back, relax, and lose yourself in a unique world. Available on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox, and Google Stadia.
An Adventure Without Combat Or The Ability To Die. Is It Playable?
I discovered early on, that Submerged Hidden Depths is an adventure game without combat or character health. Because of this, I will admit that I became a little apprehensive about the game before I started it up. Like many of you, I am used to the traditional experience of the genre. Adventure games usually include fighting creatures, health bars, and the chance of bumping into hostile enemies. Consequently, the thought of roaming around with the sole purpose of exploration made me wonder if it would feel incomplete. I will hold up my hands now and say that after having the pleasure of playing the game, I found that it doesn’t lose anything by omitting the use of traditional combat mechanics. If anything, it heightened the experience.
Submerged Hidden Depths is a third-person adventure game that follows the story of siblings Miku and Taku as they traverse a flooded and decaying world. Most of the land is underwater except for a few tall structures and buildings. As a result, the only way to navigate the map is in an engine-powered boat. Sometimes it’s necessary to use the boat to clear obstructions in the water or moving platforms for walking across. The main goal is to explore the remaining buildings and structures, gathering artefacts, upgrades, and pieces of information that help to unravel the story of the game.
One of the key features of the game is how Miku and Taku move around the buildings. Similar to the climbing mechanics in Assassins Creed, most locations lead to the characters clinging to buildings at dizzying heights.
As you explore further, eventually you uncover the mystery of why the world is in such a broken state. While on their journey Miku and Taku discover strange beings who don’t appear to acknowledge their existence. The interesting thing is, that they seem to have a weird connection to Miku that even she doesn’t understand. The ocean also contains a host of marine life and other animals scattered through the map for you to find.
One thing I took issue with was the cutscenes. As soon as I completed an area a cutscene would return me to my base. This broke up the free-flowing exploration for me, making the game feel more restricted. That being said there is a fast travel ability on the map where you can return to a place you have completed without having to fire up the boat.
Graphics & Audio
For a post-apocalyptic landscape with skyscrapers poking through the vast mileage of the ocean, the game sure is beautiful. I often found myself standing for photo opportunities or taking advantage of the game’s Postcard Mode. There were so many stunning sights that took my breath away. The delicate combination of vibrant colours amongst the decaying greyness of the cityscape almost romanticises the idea of me living there myself. This is one of the main reasons why this game is so relaxing. Every time a wave rolls gently over when the buildings slowly crumble as you pass in the boat, and the warmth of the sun beaming down, all seems to create this aura of distinctive calmness. Uppercut Games deserve praise for creating a game with a visual presence that I can only describe as a moving art piece.
If that wasn’t enough the soundtrack combined with the ambient sounds align with your environment and feel magical. Even Miku’s arm reacts to certain areas with a flowering growth that connects her to the strange world. Every time you draw close to an item or a place of interest the music builds this sense of intrigue. I knew when the music changed, I was closing in on something special, or about to uncover another piece of the mystery surrounding the storyline.
On a less positive note, I have to talk about the frame rate. For the most part, the game ran at a smooth 50-60fps on a mid-tier gaming PC set on ultra-settings, but there were moments when loading assets that I experienced sudden drops in frame rate. That being said, however, it didn’t distract me too much or ruin the experience.
Now, this is where my praise for Submerged Hidden Depths shifts away from the positive opinion that I have of it. The game doesn’t have much in the way of replayability, in my opinion. There is a set storyline and definitive sequence of events that don’t allow for varied experiences the second time around. You are free to roam as much as you like and complete tasks at your own pace and leisure. It is important to consider, however, that once everything is found there isn’t much else you can do. This is problematic as the game stands at £23.79 on Steam. That’s a lot of money for such a limited playing experience.
When I first played this game, I thought it bore a striking resemblance to Sea of Thieves. The game’s art style, sea exploration, and colour palette were very similar, but I was very wrong. The simplicity of this game makes it completely different from any other. The daring choice to leave out combat alongside the simplicity of its gameplay mechanics makes for a relaxing masterpiece. So, if you take this game for what it is, a “relaxploration” title it’s a real pleasure to play. For that reason, I have awarded Submerged Hidden Depths a Thumb Culture Gold Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.