Released in 2015, Uppercut Games’ Submerged was an undemanding yet enjoyable game centred around a sister’s love for her brother.
Now, nearly seven years later, a sequel will soon be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC. It’s not brand new though; Submerged: Hidden Depths, as it’s called, was released on Google Stadia over a year ago. But let’s forget about that. For the huge majority of people, this will be the first time they’ve heard of the title.
Submerged: Hidden Depths places the player in control of Miku and Taku. Brother and sister, they exist in a world in which disaster has struck; most of it is now submerged underwater. It’s quickly established that Miku, the sister, has mysterious powers, linked to a strange growth on her arm. Or is it perhaps best described as a curse? In any case, working with her brother, she hopes to restore the sunken city they’ve found themselves in by reuniting strange seeds with trees that have become corrupted without them. But first she and her brother must find them; it appears they’re also useful as power sources, and so have been whisked away to power everything from sound systems to alarm clocks.
Anyone that has played the original Submerged will feel right at home with Submerged: Hidden Depths. Perhaps too at home, even. Mechanically it’s pretty much exactly the same. Your method of travel around the sunken city is a small boat, and it’s up to you to explore, find the seeds, and do what needs to be done. To help, you have a telescope that you can whip out at any time, and any objects or points of interest you locate will be added to your map. You can just head for the seeds if you wish, but finding lookout points helps in your endeavour, and there are also ship upgrades, relics, landmarks, and creatures to find along the way.
Find somewhere you can dock and you can disembark for a bit of on-foot exploration. You’ll find yourself taking control of both Miku and Taku depending on what’s available in the area you’ve disembarked. Miku is the only one who can handle the seeds required to restore life to areas, for example, and so Taku likes to give her a rest when all that’s at stake is a collectible. Whoever you find yourself in control of, the gameplay remains the same: a mixture of light puzzle solving and simple environmental traversal.
Submerged: Hidden Depths doesn’t like to give you too much control over Miku and Taku, however. Generally the only way they can go is up, so of course they’re both required to do a lot of climbing. But control over basic skills, such as jumping, is handled automatically. You simply move towards interactive objects such as ropes and ledges to use them, and you’ll automatically jump over gaps if it’s permitted and required. There are more puzzle elements this time around, making the gameplay a little more rewarding. They’re simple though, like using rocks on pressure pads and moving objects to form bridges.
After reuniting a tree with a seed, you find yourself back at the location that acts as a hub for your activities. It’s there that the story primarily unfolds, too. Like the original game, there’s little voice acting in Submerged: Hidden Depths. Instead, the story is largely portrayed by primitive drawings, accompanied by helpful text. After an hour with the game it’s story hasn’t quite got its hooks in me yet, but overall it’s shaping up to be a pleasant experience. It’s got nice visuals which are a bit more stylised than its predecessor’s, and on PS5 is performs perfectly too. It even has some DualSense features, with the controller pulsating when you’re near a seed.
Free of any combat, this is ultimately a game to relax with. It seems like there might be the odd environmental puzzle thrown your way to test your noggin, but otherwise this is laid-back affair with a wonderfully contemplative soundtrack. Needless to say, if that sounds like something you’d enjoy in this crazy world right now, you’d be wise to keep your eyes on Submerged: Hidden Depths as its release draws ever closer.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is coming to PC, Xbox, PS4 and PS5 on 10th March.