Short, sweet and brimming with beautiful environments, Submerged is an game which proves to be entertaining, but is far more a proof of concept than a full title. What we get is certainly tantalising, showing great promise for this developer but at the same time it’s also very short and very limited.
The story here follows Miku; with her younger brother deathly ill, she has been tasked with exploring a flooded city in order to find medical supplies. That’s really about it. You have the hero, the walking McGuffin and several items to pick up. However, there’s an odd sort of charm to its simplicity and without an overbearing plot there’s more opportunities to focus upon the effort put into the environment.
Rather than attempting to match the grimy realism of The Last of Us, the stylised graphics of the game help to show off an almost Studio Ghibli style to the derelict metropolis. There’s an artistic quality to how the vines have overrun the city and a dulled sort of beauty to how many buildings have been left standing in the wake of some unknown cataclysm. What’s more is that there’s a real sense of life to it. Thanks to the engine Uppercut Games chose to utilise, the dynamic weather and constant shift between night and day allows the environment to seem truly vibrant and offers plenty of new sights to behold. Atop of this, the mutated wildlife appears at random, and you’re never left feeling as if you’re repeating the same patterns or walking the same path over and over again.
There’s a genuine sense of exploration to begin with and the game even encourages multiple replays through the form of hidden items and collectables. Unfortunately though, this will only draw in a few people and those after a mechanically driven title or lengthy play will be sorely disappointed. Capping out at four or so hours, the main game is a breeze to get through and despite the emphasis upon exploration you’ll find an awkward sense of linearity when Submerged moves away from the water. Half the buildings are not accessible save for climbing, and unlike Assassin’s Creed they do not link up in a vast maze for you to parkour between. Furthermore, while largely bereft of bugs, your sense of realism is likely to be taken down a notch thanks to some extremely obvious pop-in issues.
Submerged is very much a relaxing game, a good time-waster but lacking in substance. Wait for a sale if you like the sound of this one, but it’s sadly not worth a full price purchase.
SUBMERGED / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: UPPERCUT GAMES PTY LTD / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW