Submerged: Hidden Depths isn’t your typical game, where you explore, fight off enemies, then move on to the next area. The exploration is part of the game’s experience, but there’s no enemies to be had here.
Please note that, even though I have access to the full game, I was asked by the publisher to only talk about what goes on during the first hour of gameplay, so as not to spoil the story for potential buyers.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is the sequel to Submerged, released in August 2015. Originally a Stadia exclusive, the game will be available on Steam March 10th. You’re in control of a girl named Miku. Along with Miku is her younger brother Taku. Together, they explore a vast, open-world ocean on their fishing boat, where every now and again there’s a spot of land to walk on and discover. So kind of think of it like the sailing that’s done in Zelda: The Wind Waker.
There’s this disturbance called the Mass. It’s this black thing that takes over the world Miku and her brother explore and covers itself around buildings. Miku needs to calm the Mass down by collecting the spheres scattered throughout the map and dropping it off in the appropriate place. But getting that sphere — and putting it where it belongs — requires a lot of climbing and puzzle solving. There will be bridges that need to get put down by your boat, low-tech elevators to go up and down, putting the ball on a zipline, and other puzzles where you’ll need to put your thinking cap on in order to “clear” the zone.
Overall, the game is meant to be a way to de-stress from the daily anxieties of life. The music is calming, the puzzles aren’t too difficult that you’ll get frustrated, and the atmosphere of the city in which Miku explores looks gorgeous. If you’ve come home from a long day at work, I recommend playing this — I was surprised at how I felt as I was exploring the vast, sunken ruins of a once established settlement.
There are various other elements scattered throughout the world besides just the spheres. You can collect upgrades for your boat, which will allow the boat to boost longer the more upgrades you get. Boosting the boat is fairly important — it doesn’t just make the boat move faster, but it will also provide the force needed to get certain gates open. There’s also mythical animals to discover — I say mythical because these animals will disappear out of thin air if Miku gets too close.
On land, there are fragments that can be found. Collecting a certain amount of those fragments unlocks new costumes for Miku, new hairstyles, and more. There’s also diaries to be found — collecting a certain amount allows you to learn more about the island and who its inhabitants were. You will see “civilization” I guess while exploring the island, but they’re these frozen, emotionless, bodies made up of some sort of green substance that turn red and move just a little bit when Miku comes close. I would say this kind of ruins the otherwise relaxing experience that the game offers, as watching them is a little unsettling.
Runs out of the box with Proton GE 7.2-2. No launch parameters needed. Runs beautifully on ultra settings on my GTX 1660 Super, ~90 FPS when upscaled with FSR and resolution set to 1080p. I recommend playing with an Xbox controller over the DualSense though, because for some reason there was delay while making the character move with the thumbstick on the DualSense.
If you want a take a break from the typical plot video games offer, and want to unwind, Submerged: Hidden Depths is a solid choice. Aside from some moments that some may find disturbing, the game otherwise builds a decent foundation on which a person can find peace and relaxation. Available on Steam March 10th.
Note: review key provided by Uppercut Games.