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Submerged: Hidden Depths is a Relaxing Puzzle Game That isn't Too Challenging

Submerged: Hidden Depths is a Relaxing Puzzle Game That isn't Too Challenging

Uppercut Games, the Canberra-based independent developer behind the water-based exploration game Submerged, have announced that the sequel to their 2015 game, which was released at the end of 2020 as a Google Stadia exclusive, is coming to consoles and PC next month. Over the last few days, I had the chance to dive into the game for myself and I am pleased to say that it is exactly what it says it is on the box. 

Submerged: Hidden Depths is a ‘relaxploration’ adventure that centers around Miku and Taku, siblings who uncover the mysteries of a sunken city in a vast and vibrant world. Lost at sea in their fishing boat, the brother and sister will need to scale crumbling buildings, encounter new creatures and solve long-abandoned puzzles to piece together this enigmatic story.

I was given early access to the game and though I have played quite a bit of it, I will only focus on my initial first impressions for now. To start, the big thing that stands out about Hidden Depths is the sound. Before you even get the chance to pick up your controller, there is some superb sound design in the game that brings the environments to life. The soundscape alone is enough to warrant the game's "relaxploration" categorization. 

To back that up, Hidden Depths also has some beautiful visuals. Traveling across the water next to half-submerged skyscrapers with mutated dolphins and whales swimming beside you is a rather peaceful experience. Additionally, since there is no combat in the game, you can stop and stare at the game's views without a worry about being attacked or even falling off the edge. I played the game on PC and, with all settings kicked up to ultra, the game looked fantastic. I messed around with the graphics settings and I think there is a good amount of customization to allow you to optimize the game for your own PC. However, being someone who usually doesn't play PC games, I am not the best source on this. All I can say is that if you have a PC that can handle it, the game can look really pretty.

That being said, there are some things to note. Firstly, there is also not a whole lot of player input needed. You use your telescope to find a place to go and go there. In a way, the game is childproof. A similar note can be carried to the puzzles, which are also not too difficult to decipher. Each of the main stages in the game involves getting an item from point A to point B. No need to time jumps or solve any challenging puzzles. Along the way, there are collectibles scattered across the map and tucked slightly off the beaten path that help flush out the back story. The fact that the puzzles weren't too difficult and the fact that collectibles were often close by actually encouraged me to explore the game more. The game also has a helpful feature that notifies you when all the collectibles in a given area are found so you don't wander around aimlessly.

I do want to mention that the game did crash on me once. Though it was during a boot-up so no progress was lost. The most significant problems I have with the game have to do with camera angles and boat mechanics. Although you do have control over the camera for most of the game, when climbing, the camera moves on its own. This often caused me to move in a direction that I didn't intend to go in, which was rather frustrating. As for the boat, using it to navigate the map felt more like controlling a car on an icy surface than a boat cutting through the water. The rest of the visual quirks in the game fit in with its aesthetic, which I can't really report problems with.

As advertised, Submerged: Hidden Depths is a relaxing game to explore. After the month of non-stop embargos comes to an end, I look forward to returning to the game and completing it. According to How Long to Beat, Hidden Depths is around five hours long, and it's five hours I would love to spend exploring the beautiful and mysterious map. Submerged: Hidden Depths is out on March 10 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam. A code was provided by the publisher.

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