Submerged: Hidden Depths
Developer: Uppercut Games
Publisher: Uppercut Games PTY LTD
Website: Submerged: Hidden Depths (submergedhiddendepths.com)
Platform: PS5 (also available on PS4, Xbox, Stadia and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 10/03/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
For the two protagonists of Submerged: Hidden Depths, Miku and Taku, the allure of a sunken abandoned city, taken over by a dark presence is too much to resist.
For the second time, the young pair find themselves in a place far away from home with a lot to fix. It is the sister Miku’s mysterious restoration power this time that influences the siblings to try and restore their new home. Read on to find out more about Submerged: Hidden Depths.
What Is There To Know?
Hidden Depths is the sequel to the 2015 award-winning Submerged. Just like in the first game, you travel by boat as you discover creatures and unearth secrets across a vast run-down city. You will climb through ripped apart buildings and solve puzzles to restore the city and try to claim it back from a dark entity.
The puzzles and overall purpose is to collect up to ten seeds so that together with Miku’s special restoration powers, the dark vines enveloping the buildings disappear and turn into beautiful flowers.
Unlike in the first game, the brother Taku is now fit and healthy and is a playable character. You play as him to collect diary entries that are scattered across the map. Without spoiling the plot, he also ends up playing a pivotal role in the story.
Where Submerged was perhaps a little short in the three to five-hour range, Hidden Depths is almost double that with a lot more to do and see. This includes collecting style sets that allow players to change the appearance of Miku, of the boat you ride in, and make your base a more homely place.
Although at times it may not seem like it, this game is a non-combative open-world experience and the art style and gameplay can be compared to games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Rime, and even the legendary Journey.
Rising From the Depths?
This game is a delight to play. For those who may have played the first game, and if not, you should; Hidden Depths takes what the first Submerged game did and vastly improves in a lot of different ways.
To begin with, the story in the first game was mostly told through images that were fine to follow but more context would have been better, this game adds to that which means the story of both the siblings’ journey and the city are easier to follow as you progress.
Another great addition is the aforementioned customisation options as you collect style sets. This adds much more personality to the game and provides depth that fits in well with the tone of the game. The narrative is all about bringing life back to the city through these two kids. Being able to decorate the base and add flowers to Miku’s various hairstyles is cool to do and fits in so well with the tone of the game. Be aware though, collecting these style sets may require a bit of extra looking around behind all of the objects, which is always fun.
Something that makes the game easier to navigate are the shortcuts from the end of the puzzle levels that lead back to your boat, which can save a lot of time. This was missing from the first game and was a welcome improvement. This makes it a relaxing experience overall and makes collectible hunting more appealing.
One thing that was nice about the game was that there was no pressure to complete main game tasks. Even when the story progressed and an intense monster appeared, you could still ride around in your boat and go at any pace you liked because you cannot be killed. This again helps to make it a nice relaxing game and comparable to the very best games in this genre.
The art style of the world and the characters is again a step up from the last game. Not that it was not good already, but the level of detail that has gone into elements such as the water and the scenery is impressive here. For those who love a good video game sunset, the ones in Hidden Depths will get your sunset juices flowing.
It is also worth noting how nice the soundtrack in the game is, composed by the very experienced and two-time Bafta award-winning artist Jeff van Dyke. It sets the mood perfectly and is worth a listen on Spotify. Just the game sounds in general are nice, such as footsteps (when walking on wooden platforms) are distinct and makes playing the game feel more immersive.
Submerged and Clunky City
A couple of parts that let the game down at times are the clunkiness of the controls both when on land and controlling the boat. For the latter, a little more fluidity when accelerating or boosting the boat would have been nicer. A lot of the times when coming down from a boost, which has a very limited use early on, the boat would come to a dead stop and take a few seconds to get going again. This was also an issue in the first game, it is not a major flaw but it does affect gameplay and can be frustrating.
When on land, walking too far over an edge can get you stuck for a few seconds. It’s not much but you wonder if the character is permanently stuck when it happens for slightly longer. This also happens when searching for collectibles that are hidden behind objects or doors, again you will find yourself stuck behind gaps that are seemingly passable but not, and you can be stuck on invisible objects as well, which is a gameplay issue.
These were not game-breaking and there is a replay level function if you do get perma-stuck. I never found myself unable to get myself out of a situation, however, there were times I felt I was permanently unable to move before getting free. The camera angles can feel sluggish at times when hopping from wooden planks or swinging across metal bars. The camera, paired with the controls, would act against you and when trying to move forward you would find yourself going back onto the wooden planks or metal bars. This annoyingly happened a few times, unfortunately.
As mentioned throughout, Submerged: Hidden Depths is a solid game. It has taken a solid foundation from Submerged (2015) and improved on a lot of the elements that were not so good or even lacking. There’s a lot to do in this city, plenty to collect and it never feels overwhelming.
There is a nice balance of feeling light even when the tone of the game takes a dark turn in the story and especially when you are exploring an abandoned, decrepit city, and is definitely in the top tier relaxing video games territory.
It is important to note that though the first game has been mentioned a lot throughout this review, it is not completely essential to play the prequel before playing Hidden Depths. If you find the sequel fun then definitely check out Submerged.
Hidden Depths is not the perfect game and there are a couple of important issues that could be fixed if there is to be a third game in the series. As explained, the clunky controls and the camera angles are notable issues that take the shine off an otherwise enjoyable voyage. Despite that, they should not put you off from sinking time into Hidden Depths.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can buy Submerged: Hidden Depths in the PlayStation store here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.