Submerged: Hidden Depths: Hands-on Preview
Submerged: Hidden Depths is a solid progression over the original Submerged game from Uppercut Games, and though our preview session only explored the first hour into the game, the metaphorical shallows of the story, there’s already so much promise and delight that it will be extremely interesting to see how the rest of the game unfolds.
This game picks up the story that was there in the original game, though sometime later, with both the original Sister character and her rescued brother living a life of subsistence upon the flooded world. The world is much more realised compared to its predecessor, with the two characters holding conversations, having more places to visit, and showing artistic iconography related to the distinctive wildlife as they are revealed, or in association with the story of what has transpired.
It feels lived-in and tangible now, and though the characters, sister and brother, are alone, you have a stronger sense of how they’ve survived in the aftermath of the ocean claiming the bulk of the shown world. You can see how they’ve cobbled together an existence, making use of what they’ve recovered from the watery ruins, and hear them continue to speak in their own special language that has its origin in English but is removed enough from our ways of speaking to sound different to our ears.
As might also be expected, the game looks even better than the original, and there’s still a tremor of joy that comes from simply sailing through the ocean as a dwindling sunset dances upon the waves, but having the boat ebb across the water, rising and falling, gives an almost tactile pop to travelling. Sailing is only half of the journey though, and equally satisfying is that you can scale what seem like impossibly tall towers, remnants remaining from the skyscrapers of the setting’s past, but there’s almost certainly a way up for you to find.
It might be worth revisiting the original before diving into this iteration, as Hidden Depths shoots for a softer style of world-building with gradual revelation, that might make it difficult to understand the intricate mythos of the setting. The sister who you play as has an interaction with some parts of the environment, where the proximity to her causes them to grow from ash or embers into plants and often has flowers or other foliage growing along her arm. It isn’t explained in the early stages of Submerged Hidden Depths, but do suspect it’s a part of the first game that I’ve forgotten in the ensuing years. It already feels like something of a Chekhov’s Gun, and it will be either explained or explored further as you play through.
Even in the first hour of the game, there are mysteries unfolding, and much of it will be around the dark tumourescent growths that have infested the water, though how it relates to the characters and the sister’s peculiar ability is something that will play out across the remainder of the game. You will encounter large seeds that possess magic-like qualities within the first hour, though again how these relate to the overall setting will unfold as the game continues.
I’m extremely excited to see how the rest of the game plays out, and being able to talk about it in more DEPTH. After Submerged and City of Brass, it’s been great seeing Uppercut Games come back with another, especially given that they’re both a local studio that’s continuing to thrive, and that they’re doing so in Canberra. There’s no doubt there be plenty more to discuss with regards to the game after it releases on March 10, and look forward to taking a deeper dive beneath the surface of Submerged: Hidden Depths.