Submerged: Hidden Depths preview

Submerged: Hidden Depths comes out in a few weeks, but we already went hands on with it. Time for a preview of the game, which is coming to PlayStation, Xbox and PC.

What we know

Scheduled for a March 10 release, Submerged: Hidden Depths by Uppercut Games is the follow-up to Submerged, a game that was released back in 2015 and introduced us to its intriguing sunken city with gameplay that favored exploration and did away with combat. Instead, both Submerged and its sequel have you uncovering the mystery that surrounds this city by traveling around by boat, going ashore to climb and tackle puzzles in order to uncover what secrets lay below the water. Part of your journey deals with what happened in the past, but along the way you’ll also uncover the means towards a possible way back to how things were for the city in which you follow protagonist Miku and her brother Taku.

What we saw

We played a pre-release version of Submerged: Hidden Depths on a PlayStation 4 console a few weeks before the game’s intended launch. While it’s to be expected that the game will see a day 0 or day 1 patch between now and then, the build we played was feature complete and technically polished – our impressions here are based on first hour of the game.

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What we thought

What immediately stands out when you start playing Submerged: Hidden Depths is that it’s a big visual leap forward even though the original Submerged was also launched during the same console generation (we played the PS4 version of Hidden Depths). Submerged was already an atmosphere-rich title, but the sequel is far richer in detail and that makes for a world that encourages wonder and exploration.

At the same time, that richness isn’t matched in terms of things to do, people to interact with and narrative strands to unravel, if the opening beats are anything to go by. This is largely intentional – Uppercut Games is pretty clear about their intentions to make this a game that’s meant to be played in a relaxed manner, rather than keeping you on the edge of your seat at all times. If you enjoy a game where an objective marker tells you where to go next and you then traverse obstacles, puzzles and enemies to get there, then this might not be the game for you.

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Submerged: Hidden Depths lets you sail around the game work and take in its sights, but the platforming you engage in once you hit land doesn’t feel as engaging. Having just played Uncharted 4 again, jumping, climbing and moving along ledges feels lacking here, as progressing is literally a case of just pressing the thumbstick in the right direction to move the action along, as if it’s all on rails. We understand the desire to take away the frustrations of mistimed jumps and falls, but for a lot of gamers that’s also a source of accomplishment once they succeed, as they feel more engaged with the on-screen action that way.

In Hidden Depths, much of that engagement will have to come from the narrative, but we don’t expect that to be there in abundance. The core plot tends to be thinly explained, especially if you missed the first game or if it’s been a few years. There’s a soothing quality to just exploring the world and taking your time though, and you have a few weeks left to check out the first game – that’s what we’ll do, as we think that that way we’ll enjoy Hidden Depths’ beautiful game world even more when it launches next month.

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