Platform Reviewed – PS4
Developer – Uppercut Games
Released – 5th August 2015
Verdict – Sub-par
Many indie games feel the need to hide faults under an emotional blanket. This masking can sometimes deter gamers away from flaws if they’re ‘feeling’ the atmosphere and story. Journey started this trend in somber atmospherics but had the gameplay to back it up. Submerged strives to be emotional but fails to make the most of its convictions.
Set in a sunken city you play as a girl whose brother is sick and needs aid. To help him you must navigate the world for supplies. This consists of ten fetch quests that start as they mean to go on. First find the location, climb a big building and retrieve the supply. A simple concept then, but monotonous in execution. Badly affecting the gameplay isn’t the repetitive structure but rather the climbing mechanics borrowed heavily from Uncharted. Ledge climbing is slow and becomes a chore, lacking the flow of Nathan Drake’s exploring or Prince of Persia’s finesse. Travelling by boat fares better but falls foul to dodgy handling in tighter areas and there were occasions when I found myself ploughing through buildings which headline an overall lack of polish.
Not everything is bad. Some reviews have been overly harsh in my opinion. For one it’s a very pretty game. Texture work is varied and you get a great sense of scale from the flooded city. The surrounding waters and day/night cycle impress the most with some stunning lighting effects. Make sure you’re on top of a building or in open water when the sun rises – it’s a sight to behold. I also enjoyed finding famous landmarks and animals that go into a logbook when discovered. It’s a nice change of pace from all that ledge climbing.
Submerged falls in the category of missed opportunity. Developers Uppercut Games have intentionally made a game to be enjoyed at your own pace. They’ve achieved that with the discovery side quests but the gameplay is lifeless. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to the characters either. Striving to create that connection felt a little forced where ambiguity may have benefited. Play it for the visual splendour but don’t expect anything too special beneath the veneer.
With thanks to Uppercut Games for the review copy.