I’m going to be honest, I didn’t exactly know what “Metroidvania-style” was the first time that I heard it.
But being the intelligent young woman that I am was able to figure it out using context clues and *cough* the internet. With that being said, Insomniac games, creators of beloved games such as Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet and Clank and Resistance have given us this year a metroidvania-style (exploration 2D platformer) game about a young girl’s search for her missing father. Song of the Deep is a ravishingly beautiful game that tugs at the heartstrings and fits quite well alongside the other well-known games from its developer.
Song of the Deep’s story begins with a short narration about a young girl named Merryn who lives close to the sea with her father, a fisherman. One night when Merryn’s father doesn’t return home from a fishing trip she decides to take it upon herself to find him. Clad in a little submarine that she built with her own hands she dives into the ocean in search of her father. Merryn’s adventure is full of silly creatures, terrifying monsters and whimsical underwater ruins begging to be explored. Song of the Deep offers all the great aspects of a fun exploration game with a challenge to it, and wraps it all up into a fantastic package.
The gameplay of Song of the Deep is pretty simple once you get the hang of it and the game also does a great job of giving you lots of practice. Soon after starting the game, you’re given a retractable claw with which Merryn can use to attack enemies or pick up and throw things. The world underwater is a dangerous place though so this claw isn’t the only weapon that you find throughout the game. There is also the option to upgrade your weapons and your submarine in order to make all of your equipment more powerful. I visited the hermit crab upgrade shop quite a few times to make sure my equipment was ready for the challenges ahead.
The only problem that I did have towards the beginning was that the PC controls were a bit wonky. It seemed to me that in order to move with the mouse and keyboard you first have to face the direction you want to go and then move; you couldn’t move and change your direction at the same time. It caused a lot of unnecessary annoyance until I finally changed to a controller, which made the game much easier to control.
What you’ll do a lot of in Song of Deep, other than fighting enemies and solving puzzles, is exploring – especially if you’re a completionist like yours truly. Throughout the game you’ll collect lots of coins which can be used to upgrade your equipment. The more coins you find, the more chances to upgrade you’ll have, so if you want to unlock all the upgrades, you’ll need do a lot of exploring to try and find as much as you can. Plus, you’ll have to do some backtracking anyway in order to solve puzzles that were impossible for you to pass before receiving certain equipment. It’s a clever little way to get the most out of the gorgeous environment that the game makers have designed. Though, I won’t lie, I used the fast travel pretty often so for those that don’t like a ton of backtracking you’ve got other options.
Song of the Deep doesn’t simply shine in one place more than another because there are so many elements that all come together to make this game truly fantastic. The world is beautiful, the soundtrack is calming, the story is intriguing and the gameplay is simply addicting. The only complaint I would have, other than the control issue mentioned early, is that towards the end of the game I started to lose some interest because the combat got terribly difficult. I wanted to find out what was going to happen to Merryn as soon as I could and constantly being stuck on battles was discouraging. That being said, for players who love a challenge, the ending of the game would probably be right up their alley. I recommend picking the game up if you like something with story that also holds up as a great combat and puzzle game as well.