Submerged is a unique art style game, which has an interesting take on the adventure genre. The fact that there is absolutely no combat throughout the course of the game only reinforces this. You go throughout the game climbing buildings and scavenging for supplies to help your brother. Does this no combat strategy pay off? Keep reading to find out.
Before I go into all the positives of the game (of which there are many), I have to get rid of the giant elephant in the room for anyone that has played or will play the game. The Xbox One version has a massive issue with FPS. It constantly slows down and shudders to single digit frames, and at times skips frames completely. I have been told this is a known issue and it should be fixed in a patch before it comes out, but buyer beware if you get this before word of the official patch.
So, onto the game. Submerged is set in a flooded city. You take on the role of a girl that has arrived on a boat and has to traverse the flooded city scavenging supplies for your sick brother. As she does this she starts to find out more about the city, it’s inhabitants and how it is home to something rather strange.
Before I move onto gameplay, I have to tell you how stunning this game is, both in terms of audio quality and visual aesthetics. This is clearly an indie game as indicated by the quality of the graphics/models, but the light blooms, the water effects and the overall art style of Submerged is a joy to behold. Visuals aren’t the only strong point, as mentioned the audio quality is stunning. The game is mostly silent, with only small amounts of audio from the main protagonist who speaks in a fake language/chatter. The overall ambience the game creates with the audio cues as you travel around is truly brilliant, bravo to Uppercut Games.
Now onto the gameplay. As mentioned at the start there is no combat to speak of and the whole game is based around you discovering and scavenging for set supplies by travelling the map by boat. You spot things with your telescope and you then follow what you find into an Assassins Creed style jump puzzle up the side of the building. This is where the game is a joy but fails at the same time. There is no sense of danger at any time throughout. No danger of falling, no skill in climbing, just use the thumbstick and the A button from time to time. Pretty basic for an adventure game, but satisfying of you accept the game for what it is.
Where the problem lies in this is that once you have done this 3/4/5 times it becomes wholly repetitive. You never do anything new, just locate a new stash of supplies, sail to the building, climb and go back to your brother. This combined with the lack of combat or any possibility of failing in any way is the main problem, there is zero challenge. By the time I finished Submerged (which can be beaten in a few hours), I didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, I certainly hadn’t wasted my time, but at the same time didn’t feel it was time well spent, it was somewhere in the middle.
All along though, I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, art style and sound of the game. I fully appreciate the game as an art style adventure game, Submerged for me feels like it was an art project with a game strapped on, not a bad thing as long as you take it as that.
The story was another element that I felt wasn’t well looked after like the aesthetics. It was good enough to keep me entertained along the way, but nothing beyond that. At first it feels like something simple; the story of two children being told through cave style paintings. Towards the middle of the game it ramped up and I felt like it was going to really take off but, unfortunately, it ended pretty average.
I feel like I have been putting a downer on Submerged, rather unfairly. There is plenty to see and do throughout the city, you can gather upgrades for your ship to aid you in sailing around and there are a shedload of collectibles to pick up. These expand not only on the back story but on the inhabitants of the flooded city. All of these are shown in stunning cave style paintings. You also have a brilliant Postcard Mode where you can set up stunning screenshots with the Xbox One DVR completely manipulating the camera positioning to get the best shots.
Submerged definitely impresses with its audio and visual quality, but unfortunately most other aspects of the game aren’t the same story. If you are looking for a few hours to have a great romp around a flooded city, enjoying some glorious visuals and music/audio with loads to see and collect, then I can highly recommend Submerged. However, if you are looking for a full on adventure game this probably isn’t the one for you.
Submerged can be picked up here for £15.99 and is out on 07/08/15.