I came away from my early preview of Submerged Hidden Depths on quite the high note; I really enjoyed my limited time in this ‘Relaxploration’ title, just bobbing around the flooded city clambering up towers, finding various upgrades, and just enjoying the view. Having now completed the final release I can safely say that the initial promise I saw lasted right the way through.
Playing Submerged Hidden Depths has been a joy, something to just relax with after a hard days work. There’s no combat in the game and, truth be told, very little challenge. Yet it was always rewarding and importantly, fun. Scaling the towers to collect the seeds – the core means of progression – is as easy as following the red-highlighted ledges and surfaces, though to fully explore and find all of the hidden collectibles we need to spend a bit more time looking for alternate routes. Some are quite well hidden, such as the conch shells that we need to collect to unlock new outfits, or the diary entries that flesh out the back story of the world and why the sunken city we’re in is in the shape we find it. As noted in the preview, these can be marked on the map by looking through our telescope, making them easy enough to find for those willing to do so. Previously cleared towers can be fast travelled to in order to clear up any items missed, while Lookout towers will mark missed items for our convenience.
This comes in handy especially when sailing the small open world as even here there are plenty of things to find. Some, such as the boat upgrades, offer tangible gameplay improvements (in this case, a longer boost to get around faster) while others are merely for the enjoyment of collecting, with lost Relic’s creating a museum back at our base for example. Everything is marked on the map as we find or scan it, making it easy enough to know where to look next. Plus, the world is just big enough to spread icons about without making it feel too sparse or like a chore to navigate in order to find everything.
The core of the game can be beaten in around 4-5 hours by focusing on only collecting the seeds at the top of each of the 10 towers, but finding all the extras could potentially add a good couple more hours to things. No matter if you’re hunting every last item down or just golden pathing it though, the chilled out and relaxing gameplay hits that sweet spot of engaging enough to keep us playing without really having to put in too much work to progress.
As for the story, it’s delivered in small chunks as we gather the seeds as well as in the aforementioned diary entries. It’s charming enough, and follows on from the first game as far as I’m aware, but it was rarely a focus for me. Much like the gameplay, it’s a fairly simple and concise story of family, friendship, and trying to survive in a harsh new world. It’s not going to stand out or challenge players to really think about it, but then this is Submerged Hidden Depths MO to a tee: enjoyable, relaxing, and straightforward.
This is all backed up by some utterly lovely visuals, with some excellent water effects as well as bright, colourful flora and fauna; even the dilapidated buildings are good looking enough to warrant taking a picture. The character models almost juxtapose against the sunning backdrops, such as they are fairly simplistic in design, but that’s a minor nit-pick in what is otherwise a very good looking title. Those who’ve played Enslaved will have a good idea of what to expect, all soft bloom and bright colours that make the world feel alive yet fantastical.
Overall, I had a great time with Submerged Hidden Depths. It’s an easy to play title that is just happy to have us along for the ride, not concerned with giving a challenge or putting too many obstacles in our way to succeed.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.