After spending a hundred odd hours between Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring, it was liberating to explore Submerged: Hidden Depths at my own pace without having to fight a gargantuan metal creature or vengeful and nightmarish monstrosity. The freedom to journey through a beautiful sunken city and uncover its mysteries was greatly appreciated. It doesn’t have the depth or breadth of most open world adventures, but pottering about and finding various collectibles was more than enough to keep me engaged.
There’s little setup in Submerged: Hidden Depths. You play as a sister and brother who must eradicate something known as the Black Mass that has engulfed the world. The sea has risen, sending most of the city underwater. By finding magical seeds within specific locations, they can be used to turn the black oily tentacles that enrapture the architecture into vibrant plant life. You travel by boat to various locations, be it a radio tower, car park, or business complex. Once you’ve docked, it’s time to find the seed.
Submerged: Hidden Depths: A friendly guide
Most areas are signposted within an inch of their lives so you never struggle with where to go. Red paint highlights climbable platforms. Flower walls, ladders, rope swings, and more litter the crumbling skyscrapers. These areas are linear with little room for exploration. If there is another path, there’s most likely something to find. This will likely annoy diehard adventurers, but Uppercut Games wants to offer a relaxing adventure. Puzzles are present throughout Submerged: Hidden Depths, but they aren’t challenging. The developer’s goal is to give you a chilled out experience, one to let you take in the gorgeous visuals and soundtrack without fear of being beaten to death.
With no combat at all, Submerged: Hidden Depths allows you to breathe. Without threats, you’re able to take in the fantastic level design. It’s cute, but it’s also haunting. It might not feel like there’s much to do, but I kind of enjoyed that. Sometimes, you don’t want to fight or struggle with a complex puzzle. That goes for when you’re riding around on your boat. The waves are serene. Journeying from place to place is peaceful, even when thunder and lightning strikes. The rain gracefully covers the screen as you try and solve a simplistic riddle with the rope attached to your boat.
A world of wonder
As well as getting rid of the Black Mass, there’s a world of wonder at your fingertips. Boat parts can be found, and story entries share part of the world’s history. Each location has its own collectables for you to find. There’re special flowers that decorate your home, as well as animals that live within the world. Using your telescope highlights places of interest. You’re never stuck for where to go and what to do. Submerged: Hidden Depths holds your hand, but it’s a warm and tender embrace that wants to keep you safe.
Submerged: Hidden Depths isn’t a sprawling open world adventure. There’s plenty of traveling to do and things to find, but you’re not overwhelmed. Whether you find it freeing or boring is down to what you want from it. In other words, if you appreciate playing something without a massive challenge, you’ll likely enjoy what Uppercut Games coin as a “relaxploration” game. The drowned city is delightful to look at, at times reminding me of the forgotten gem that is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and the music does a wonderful job of bringing the eerie and opulent world to life.
Refreshing approach to the genre
Plenty of collectables
No real challenge
Feels empty at times