SHINSEKAI: INTO THE DEPTHS / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: CAPCOM / PLATFORM: APPLE ARCADE, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally released exclusively for the Apple Arcade in late 2019, Shinsekai: Into the Depths is a bit of a departure for developers Capcom. Mostly known for AAA epics like Devil May Cry and Resident Evil, and for their outstanding back catalogue of fighting games, Shinsekai is a more modest 2D underwater exploration adventure / survival game - the sort of thing that you might get if you crossed Subnautica with Super Metroid and dropped it somewhere in the early to mid 2000s.
Very little explanation is given at the start of the game regarding what's going on - a lone deep sea diver is trapped underwater as a layer of ice pushes him further into the depths. It's your job to explore each part of the subaquatic environment to locate various items and upgrades that will allow you to dive even deeper, while keeping an eye on your oxygen supply which doubles as both your all-important health bar and also the source of additional speed and power boosters for your diving suit.
During your expedition, you'll come across a variety of long-forgotten sea creatures that you can either fight or flee from, as well as a handful of boss encounters. Upgrading your suit is essential if you're going to deal with these gargantuan beasts, so you'll need to seek out the game's many secrets and hidden areas, as well as keeping an eye out for upgrade materials that need to be dug out of the rocks.
As you descend, you travel through a really quite beautiful range of locations, from harsh unforgiving rocks to lush and fertile areas strewn with greenery. Despite the dangers that lie ahead, it all feels very calm and relaxing - the atmosphere aided by some fantastic sound design that really makes you feel like you've been submerged in real life (seriously, wear headphones if you can).
Movement can be a little stiff at times, although that's presumably by design (we're underwater, after all) and, even with a few tutorials available, it can still be a bit of a mission to figure out how the upgrade and crafting systems work. Take the time to familiarise yourself with everything though, and you'll find an enjoyable sci-fi adventure in a setting rarely explored by games of this kind.