Sometimes games borrow from other games, stir them around, and pour them back out as a complicated and beautiful mess of different ideas all rolled into one. Submerged is not one of those games.
When Submerged first debuted its trailer for the public I was enthralled. There wasn’t much meat to the reveal, but my interest was piqued. What was this water world? What secrets did it hold? Sadly, after spending just a mere two hours to beat the game’s short story, I’m still left asking the same questions.
Submerged puts players into the shoes of Mika, a young girl who must work to keep her brother Taku (or as I like to call him, Taco) alive. The game’s story is told through charming drawings that are mailed out to players in pairs of four each time they find a supply crate. There are 44 of these drawings in all, and for the most part half of them simply tell the story that players are already witnessing. Taku needs medicine, or water, or new stitches for his wound, and Mika goes and gets them like the good sister she is. It’s a very basic story, and it’s a very dull tale to tell in such a promising world.
The goal of Submerged is to save Taku, but there is also another goal set into place–explore the flooded city. Exploration works two ways. Either you boat around in a spiffy little motor boat, ignoring all the sea life around you, or you climb to the top of the only buildings still bearing names and grab the supply crates. This provides around 60 additional drawings to gather, and they’re supposed to tell you the story of what happened to the city. But just looking around it’s pretty clear to see what happened to the city.
There is no combat. There are no threats. Players can’t fall from buildings, or break their boat into pieces and drown. It’s just simple, boring exploration with absolute no direction of interest. Don’t get me wrong. You aren’t trapped in a lifeless city with no living breathing creatures. There are plenty of things around you like whales, dolphins, fish, stingrays, birds, and even those weird blue-greyish skinned humanoids that I’m pretty sure are just mutated humans. It’s awe-inspiring at first, until you look too closely and realize that the murky, low quality textures all look the same on everything. Every building you climb, every ledge you hang off of, it’s all the same. All cookie-cutter repetition of the same four or so obstacles blocking your path as you climb up the same very dull concrete walls of each building.
To complete the game’s story, you need to gather a total of ten rations. Throughout the story the developers introduce what I hoped would be an interesting twist, only to take the easy way out and completely remove the only negative consequence that the game seemed to have for the protagonist. In the end I was left with zero feelings towards Mika and Taku. Being completely straightforward about it all, Submerged has failed to do the one thing that I believe games like this should do: move the audience. I had no reason to care about any of it.
After only ten minutes in the game you’ve already experienced everything that Submerged has to offer. It’s a rather dull and shallow title in what could have been an exciting and scary world. There is no combat, no urgency, and no chance of failure. The gameplay is boring, the landmarks and scenery are mediocre, and the story is almost nonexistent. Submerged is a rapidly sinking ship that never even left the harbor.
This review is based on a download code provided by the publisher. Submerged is available in digital stores today, for $19.99.
- Stylish interface
- Textures are murky and low quality
- Story is nonexistent
- Gameplay is boring and monotonous
- Not enough content for the game price
- Controls can be clunky
Josh Hawkins posted a new article, Submerged Review: A Rapidly Sinking Ship
Wasn’t this just annouced recently? Its already out?
Was announced at E3 I think. But yes, it's out already.