A visually stunning and relaxing experience with a beautiful message to convey.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is a sequel to the critically acclaimed Submerged. Now, while I have not played the first one, I am so happy I got to play the sequel as it is an excellent relaxing experience with a beautiful message to convey.
Like its predecessor, it's a third-person perspective game about exploring the ruins of a sunken city where you solve puzzles to uncover its secrets. In Submerged: Hidden Depths, you take on the role of Miku and Taku, two siblings, – one cursed with a mysterious power that she wants to use for good, the other determined not to let it tear them apart.
This world, as the title indicates, is mostly submerged underwater where only large buildings and other structures stand above the water level. You traverse through this stunning world by piloting a motorboat and your task is simple, climb on top of these massive structures, find a seed and use that to cleanse "The Mass" and save the world. The Mass is this massive corrupted plant whose vines, branches and roots have apparently caused all of the destruction that you see all around you submerging this whole city underwater.
While I kinda missed it the first two times, the third time I got the seed and helped cleanse the plant from its black corruption, it hit me. The story or better say the message behind the game became clear. As I was pulling out the plugs that were draining that third seed, I saw lots of electronics scattered all around it. Humans messed up this place, messed up nature and wasted its precious resources to "power" their human nature and well, nature fought back. Enigmatic Groot-like creatures that spring to life when you get close to them inhabit these locations. Usually most indie games that try to do a social commentary go all artsy-fartsy and you need a PhD in Cryptography to decode its message, but in Submerged: Hidden Depths that's not the case. The message is there, right in front of your eyes, you just need to take a moment to see it and I absolutely loved this aspect of the game.
There are a total of ten of these massive structures, each with a cleansing seed at the top and since this is an open-world game, you can tackle them however you want. During the first hour of gameplay, since this is a preview and I am only allowed to talk about the first hour, I managed to climb and cleanse three of the structures. Each one of these locations is unique like a massive shipwreck, a high rise tower and a large cathedral. Figuring out how to reach the top is fairly easy, with fairly simple puzzles to solve and clearly marked paths you can climb.
There's no combat, no fail state as you can complete these climbing sequences by just holding up on the left analog stick, no time limit. It's a really chill experience, one you can take your time to fully explore and I absolutely loved it. Each location you explore, apart from the main traversal puzzle, has a couple of diary entries you can find which slowly expand the story of what happened to this city, wildlife to "scan" and many collectibles that unlock new customisation options for your boat. Apart from these main ten locations, in the open-world there are tons of more smaller structures you can climb that hide additional diary entries or bonfires that, in a Ubisoft-like game fashion, populate the map with icons like sunken artefacts you can fish out of the water, boat upgrades, landmarks to visit and much more.
Motor boating through the open-world is effortless as piloting the boat is really smooth and satisfying. The open-world itself being absolutely stunning with gorgeous and vibrant colors, beautifully executed day and night cycle and a pretty fantastic water shader/simulation combo help a lot. Soundtrack is also great, very atmospheric and melancholic that adds a lot to the overall chill vibe to the game.
To be completely honest, I've already played through the entire game and while this is technically a "preview", it can easily lose the letter "p" and be considered a review for the game. Submerged: Hidden Depths is a visually stunning and relaxing experience with a beautiful message that gets an easy recommendation from me. Get this game when it is out. Thanks for reading!
The game was previewed on a PS5 (via BC) using a preview code provided by the publisher. Submerged: Hidden Depths will be available on March 10th 2022 on Steam, Playstation and Xbox.