Developed by Uppercut games Submerged is a beautifully sculpted third person adventure game set in a vastly flooded City. Set to release across multiple platforms including the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC in August 2015, Submerged takes players on an, at times lonely journey for desperate survival.
A Families Lonely Tale
Seldom have I come across a game so breathtakingly tranquil and elegant, though Submerged is a quiet in terms of sound volume, it unleashes some of the most eye catching scenery I have ever seen from an independent game. A lonely fishing boat enters the scene, out on the deep blue sea, with it carries a young Miku and her younger still, ill brother. Miku is in desperate search of some much needed aid for her unwell brother, the cause of his pain isn’t clear.
The lonesome children come across a City, long since forgotten by humans and time, almost completely submerged beneath the sunlit blue ocean. Powerful structures that once stood up, proud like beacons in the beaming bright skyline are now covered with the disdain of dark green algae, unceremoniously smashed with severe flooding, the large City was in mourning, despite the water now beginning to recede.
Miku has brought her fallen brother to the mysterious City, in hope of some much needed medical supplies, throughout the City’s vast landscape, she hopes to find all that she needs to nurse her brother back to full health. Finally docking at a Clock Tower, she rests her brother up on top of a stone bench and sets off in search of hope.
Not all of life, is about death
With peace deeply seeded in its DNA, Submerged introduces a non combat theme, there are no enemies to fend off and no fear of death within the partially hidden labyrinth of buildings and monuments. With the use of only a map and telescope, Miku can search the watery landscape, for valuable resources for her dying sibling. Exploration is essential while traversing the City, in order to find the supplies she needs Miku must search either by telescope or by scaling the large City infrastructures by hand.
Able to scale the daunting terrain in a variety of ways, Miku pulls herself up onto narrow ledges, shimmying around tight corners, using a technique very likened to early Lara Croft titles. Whilst navigating the tall landscape might be easy enough, parts of the climb lies in planning, there are sometimes numerous paths that may either lead to a sacred care package or one of the games many hidden secrets; images that once discovered, paint a picture of the events that took place within the now ghostly City.
Unfortunately the story, as beautifully presented as it is, lacks a deeper plot, letting the game down slightly in the process. The landscape sets Submerged aside from other ID@Xbox titles of late but it needed more backbone, while players are free to explore the partly submerged City, there could have been a better story to explain how the City became flooded in the first place.
From Within A Jacques Cousteau dream
A lack of story might let Submerged down but is forgiven for everything else it has to offer. Climbing the games many buildings is a great way to see the sunken City from high above, from the tallest building, the sheer scale of devastation is clear to see. Though most of the games mechanics rely heavily on climbing, which while sometimes a touch unreliable and nervy are easy enough to maintain, there is of course the boat. With the benefit of small upturned wooden boats, Miku is able to upgrade her own little fishing boat, making the narrow vessel faster, with boosts of speed. The discovery of boat upgrades help greatly to get around the vast and wondrous City.
Working my way around the cities boundaries, jumping in and out of waves like a skipping stone across the ocean. I spotted a bridge glistening in the backdrop of the morning sun, suddenly out of nowhere, a Giant Whale torpedos up from the depths, breaching the ocean with all the grace of a ballerina, before plummeting safely back in the water with a shuddering crash. My tiny boat rocked with the disturbed water, I had just experienced one of Submerged’s more pleasing features.
Dolphins actively seek Miku out, appearing randomly alongside her while out patrolling in the boat., huge Manta Rays leap from the water with swagger, but are best experienced through the night as they glow brightly
Constructed With A Loving Touch
When it comes to setting a scene, Submerged is not only visually appealing, it has a strange and compelling beauty to it that draws you in. Uppercut have developed a water drenched landscape filled with real artistic depth, polished with a loving touch. The buildings and structures that fill the cities skyline have great detail to them and don’t feel rushed. Whether you are attempting to scale a large hotel or resting high up on top of the construction crane in the middle of the City, the realisation of your surroundings never leaves you and while while the atmosphere might feel lonely you can help but stop and stare at what surrounds you.
As the story progresses the weather conditions become increasingly unstable, at night fog sets over the City making visibility almost impossible. Raindrops begins to fall from the sky and lightning strikes lighting up the dark sky, which while out on the water is quite an experience.
How Does Submerged Fair
Submerged is an emotional tale that follows one girls plight to save her dying brother, while the game isn’t without it’s touching moments, the overall story is too short and can be completed within a couple of hours. I can’t help but feel that a longer more drawn out story driven experience would have been better suited, the visuals deserved it. Submerged has so much to offer in the way of beautifully stunning graphics and a lot of time can be spent gazing at the enriching sights the sunken City has to offer.
The City as a whole is quite a sight with so much to explore and some truly amazing sea life to take in. Submerged has a very subtle yet pleasing soundtrack and has a very laid back attitude to go with it, which is refreshing to see. Poetically balanced, sadness follows Miku throughout the game as she desperately tries to reach care packages to aid her sibling. Another noteworthy feature within the game is the ability to take postcard shots from anywhere around the City.
Submerged may lack a full story but it is certainly not short of wondrous sights and for that reason alone, it is value for money.
Submerged was reviewed on the Xbox One
Disclosure: game copy was provided by developer/publisher
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