The sequel to Submerged proves to be a feast for the eyes which sucks you into its flooded world.
Worldbuilding can be key to creating a compelling game. Games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Horizon Zero Dawn offer beautiful landscapes that are fully traversable. Even classics such as the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series tout the size of their worlds, constantly one-upping the size of the last iteration. Submerged: Hidden Depths by (Name) is a game that not only offers up gorgeous landscapes and horizons, but urges you to stop and savor them.
You are Miku and Taku, a brother and sister duo travelling the seas on their boat. Miku is afflicted with a strange condition that connects her to the flora and fauna that engulf the post-apocalyptic world, which she uses to help restore corrupted forces of nature. Her brother Taku joins her on her quest, determined to keep her safe on her journey. Together, they will explore the vast seas in the drowned world that the game offers via boat and platforming exploration.
The visuals are the first thing that immediately grabs your attention. The open ocean is a fear for the eyes as you fly from area to area, discovering new things in an overgrown post-apocalyptic world. The soundtrack is a minimalist one, allowing the send effects and ambient noises to captivate you on your journey. At times, the only thing you’ll hear is the hum of your boat engine, the waves it kicks up and the cries of gulls in the distance. There is a lot to discover in the ocean, including upgrades for your boat and notable landmarks for the area. The discovery of these objectives is the next thing that pops out in the design of Submerged: Hidden Depths.
Every objective you must find needs to be tagged on your map using your telescope. This type of exploration gives a unique level of immersion and vigilance in the world of Submerged. Finding yourself getting lost in a beautiful view becomes a good cue to pull out your telescope and take a look around to find some objectives from a new vantage point. While it’s okay to miss a few of these opportunities, you’ll find yourself naturally pulling it out and finding objectives when you want to get a closer look at something in the distance. This makes the exploration exciting as finding these beautiful horizons feels rewarding in more than just an aesthetic way, which makes each one more memorable.
The other main type of gameplay comes from the light puzzle solving. Each objective that advances the plot is locked behind a small transportation puzzle, where you’ll use Miku’s curse to help purify the overgrowth in the world. While there isn’t much of a challenge present, each puzzle offers a satisfying sense of exploration and beautiful landscapes. Some also utilize fun pulley system mechanics, where you’ll transport purification orbs to other parts of the area before platforming towards that location.
Platforming is the other main method of exploration, aside from the boat. Miku and Taku will leap, swing and climb through various overgrown locales and islands on their journey. The controls are smooth using either keyboard and mouse combo or controller, making it easy to use your preferred control method. Movement is smooth and platforming flows well, feeling deceptively slow at first. This all combines into a gameplay loop that promotes exploration, where getting lost in the world becomes relatively easy. This is never a bad feeling, however, as it only fuels the sense if adventure the game brings.
Submerged: Hidden Depths makes an excellent first impression. The gorgeous visuals make you want to explore it’s Wind Waker-inspired water world. The telescope makes chasing the horizon a worthwhile experience, as each view will surely yield more objectives for the intrepid explorer. Adding it a little light puzzle solving, it all comes together to create an immersive experience in a world where getting lost in it feels like a rewarding part of the experience.