Submerged: Hidden Depths Preview

Despite catching my eye before its release in 2015, the original Submerged fell into the category of games that passed me by unfortunately. The luscious, almost otherworldly visuals painted an intriguing world, while the promise of low-stress gameplay sounded like a breath of fresh air. Needless to say, when we got the opportunity to preview the upcoming sequel – Hidden Depths – I was keen to not repeat the situation. Based on roughly the first hour of gameplay, played on Xbox Series X, I have to say I’m once again intrigued to see the finished product.

We play as Miku, returning from the first game with her brother Taku once again in tow. Another destroyed, sunken city awaits us, and this time out we need to scale certain landmarks in order to find the restorative seeds hidden within. Returning these to a key point at the locations see the black mass release its grip, allowing nature to bloom once more.

There’s no combat in Submerged: Hidden Depths. Instead, the game is described as a ‘Relaxploration’ title – we simply explore the area at our leisure, hunting out the seeds as well as various collectibles and trinkets along the way. From this limited slice it certain hits the relax part of that genre well. Simply bobbing around the waves looking for somewhere to dock is oddly soothing, helped in no small part by some utterly lovely visuals. The character models might not be the best out there, but there’s no denying the world around them is gorgeous to look at. Soft bloom, lovely lighting, excellently animated waves, beautiful flora and fauna, plant-based dolphins skipping along the surface of the water; even the presence of the black mass doesn’t detract from the almost postcard-esque scenes.

Once we dock at an area we enter what amounts to a simple, yet very enjoyable, parkour run up a dilapidated building. From the few areas I’ve played so far these feel very much like prettier versions of the towers from a Far Cry game. There’s only really one way up, but the route isn’t always straight forward. As we progress up we’re treated to yet more lovely visual work as well as story beats in the form of diary entries. It seems we’ll need to collect a fair few of these before we get access to the full tale, but again so far these have been easy enough to find, and are even highlighted to us when looking at the map or through our telescope.

Speaking of which, it’s this telescope that allows us to find new areas of interest, as well as hidden items and upgrades for our boat. Perhaps my only niggle so far is that it’s a little bit fiddly at times to use this, but that’s mainly because it requires us to sail out and stop in hopefully a good enough position to be able to see enough new stuff.

However, from this limited slice of the game I can say that my seven year old intrigue has been well and truly reignited. With around a month until the full release, we don’t have long to wait to see if the full game can stick the landing, or if the slow pace might be to its detriment.

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This game was previewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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