Submerged Hidden Depths Review

Satisfying 'relaxploration' sequel

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8
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A standalone sequel to the original Submerged back in 2015, Hidden Depths builds on the free-flowing open world, as Miku and Taku try to make the city their new home. Beautiful luscious colours and an intriguing story elevate the series to greater heights, delivering a liberating, sensory experience.

The plethora of collectables and freedom to adventure at your own pace will keep you occupied past the main story. And at the heart of Hidden Depth’s brilliance is the light-hearted art design, immersive music and contextual audio effects to feel present in the moment.

TITLE SUBMERGED HIDDEN DEPTHS
PREQUEL SUBMERGED (2015)
DEVELOPER UPPERCUT GAMES
RELEASE DATE MARCH, 2022
GENRE ADVENTURE, FREE-ROAM
PLAYERS 1
PLATFORMS STEAM PC, XBOX, PLAYSTATION, STADIA
GAME LENGTH 4-6 HOURS
COMPLETIONIST 10-12 HOURS

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desolate, fascinating world to explore

Submerged Hidden Depths follows siblings Miku and brother Taku to another city, rife with sea creatures and fallen skyscrapers. It’s an overgrown, desolate landscape absent of inhabitants like before. A dark mass has consumed the drowned city, unsettled by a lurking cursed power. With Miku determined to make this city their new home, the siblings traverse by boat to dispel the curse.

If you played the original Submerged, many of Hidden Depths will be familiar to you – the characters, a city submerged underwater and scalable buildings. The story is self-contained from start to finish, meaning you won’t miss out if you skipped the original. Miku and Taku are grown up, with Taku playing a more supportive role in Miku’s quest to release the dark mass gripping the city.

For such a dystopian, apocalyptic landscape, the city is bustling with things to do over the course of the game: discover lookouts, visit iconic landmarks, boat upgrades, dredge relics from the waters, find flowers, collect diary journals, plant seeds, document new creatures, and unlock new costume and hairstyles. Submerged Hidden Depths gives you the freedom to explore how you like, and in any order, you prefer to cleanse parts of the city, one by one.

Different areas of the map offer a variety of weather climates, from polluted air to raging storms. Part of the game’s charm is the way the world reacts to you, feeding back on how you move, act and interact with the environment. It’s better than a barren, soulless world void of any lifeforce. From my first hour of hands-on all the way to the end, Submerged Hidden Depths strikes a balance very well.

playground to freely roam

The 9 locales you free from the dark mass are straightforward puzzles. It ranges from placing a boulder on a pressure pad to lower a bridge, towing a platform to bridge a gap, swinging from rails, climbing up vines, and hanging along ledges high up buildings. It requires a little thought but isn’t intended to challenge your IQ. Submerged Hidden Depths is described as a ‘relaxploration’ type of adventure and manages to pull of the feat while still adding a few layers to spice up the formula.

Movement feels polished for the most part, with Miku and Taku interacting seamlessly and moving in a fluid motion. That’s important, as the entire experience hinges on exploring. There are a few moments where I’d get stuck in between thick vines or I’m unable to engage in climbing over a few boxes. The good news is the mechanics are very reliable.

Moreover, part of the joys in Submerged Hidden Depths is soaking the landscape silhouette at a vantage point. The world feels vivid, brought to life with an ever rippling wave of water crashing against toppled over buildings. Little details like rubble causing a splash, a whale leaping out of the water, or seals hanging around add to the atmosphere.

relaxploration to hidden depths

The original prides itself on emphasising sound effects to capture emotion with very little dialogue. The same can be said for Hidden Depths as it adds to the sensory experience. It communicates danger with brash, intense instrumentals, while softer instruments create cloud nine of wholesome moments.

Even chemistry between siblings Miku and Taku is expressed through body language and gestures. You pay closer attention to these design cues as a result. Submerged Hidden Depths is a game where you can take your time and enjoy traversing the waters by boat. The free-roam experience helps flesh out what you can do as the main story can be very short if you go from A to B.

Liberating the 9 locales can be done in less than 4 hours if you’re rushing. Adding a few collectables along the way, playtime may be closer to 6 hours. Completionists will clock between 10 to 12 hours. The collectables are an enjoyable adventure to complete, but they don’t serve an additional purpose to the gameplay which is a missed opportunity. Collectables like the city diaries do add further context to the story though.

submerged hidden depths final verdict

Submerged Hidden Depths Review

So how would I rate Submerged Hidden Depths? It’s a beautiful, vivid adventure game with several depths to the experience and an enjoyable open world to explore. The story in itself is fairly short, redeemed by the fascinating city and environment. Puzzle and platforming aspects are light and straightforward, offering wonderful vantage points atop with fluid movement to keep the overall experience tight.

There’s a fitting sense of closure and I can honestly say for the roughly 10 hours I spent in Submerged Hidden Depths, I enjoyed every single part of it. If the developers ever decide to make the third instalment in the Submerged series, I look forward to it with a hopeful smile.

CONCLUSION
Even in the hidden depths of a dystopian city, there are moments of brilliance among a generally satisfying relaxploration experience. The world feels a little more vivid, with plenty of collectables to tide you further with a strong narrative and story to keep you going.
GRAPHICS
7.7
GAMEPLAY
8
EXPERIENCE
8.7
VALUE
7.7
HIGHLIGHTS
collectibles add replay value and perks
beautiful vibrant environment
pleasant music and sound effects
LOWLIGHTS
rare framerate stutters
fairly short main story
8
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