Submerged released almost six years ago. While many lauded its atmosphere and orchestral score, it lacked direction and had a fair few technical issues. Now, Uppercut Games is back with its sequel, Submerged: Hidden Depths. I never played the original, so I was going in with no prior knowledge or expectations. After spending some time with it, this is something I’m glad about. There’s a grandeur to it that I couldn’t help but connect with. Alone in a world submerged in water and filled with mystery, I was left wanting to remain there for as long as possible.
There’s little story in Submerged: Hidden Depths. You play as two siblings exploring the ruins of a once great city. Something strange is happening. Huge plants enrapture skyscrapers and enchanted figures are left amidst the crumbling structures. To get from building to building, you travel around in a boat as a stunning musical score plays in the background. The world is ripe for exploration. Using your telescope, you can tag journal entries to uncover the story; flowers to decorate your home; yacht parts to change the look of your boat; and more.
Submerged: Hidden Depths: Peaceful at your own pace
The goal, it seems, is to find glowing orbs that help to get rid of the giant weeds and vines that have started to take over. These are often located in the architecture of the drowning city. Finding a way to get to them presents slight challenges, but never does Submerged: Hidden Depths feel difficult. That’s part of the reason I like it, though. There’re no stressful combat scenarios. No complex puzzles to solve. it’s as peaceful as it is eerie. The only difficulty you face is making sure you’ve unlocked any nearby collectables. Uppercut Games bring back the sense of exploration, but give you a goal you can either choose to aim for, or instead, simply enjoy the relaxing nature of your journey.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is chilled out. I appreciated just how serene it was. Whenever I found somewhere to new to probe, I knew I could do so at my own pace. It helps that everything is so vibrant. Despite existing in a life on the brink of survival, there’s so much colour. The setting sun casting its orange glow through the cracks of a fallen tower. The beautiful flowers sprouting from crumpled walls. The azure glow of a settled ocean as I glide across it. Visually, it’s gorgeous. The animations of the characters feel akin to Kena: Bridge of Spirits, while the environment itself shares much in common with The Last of Us and Horizon games.
Find your own way
That sense of direction might not be clear, but it isn’t supposed to be. Much like the siblings, you are lost in a strange new place. By exploring and finding journal entries, and more, you begin to find your own path. You tell your own story. In the early stages of Submerged: Hidden Depths, it feels as though you can go wherever in any order you please. Some might not appreciate that kind of freedom, but I believe the game feels better for it.
At this stage, Submerged: Hidden Depths is a beautiful yet haunting exploration adventure. There are a lot of wonderful sights to behold, but something doesn’t feel right. There is darkness, and there is a sense of foreboding. Although it’s relaxing, something about the events are melancholy and unsettling. Uppercut Games has come back with something special. It’s too early to see how things transpire or whether a sense of repetition kicks in. So far, however, there’s a lot to like about it.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC on March 10th, 2022.