REVIEW -Uppercut Games’ Submerged throws the violence away: it doesn’t want to kill the player at every single corner, but instead, it goes for the exact opposite: there is no way in Submerged to die. Instead, an abandoned city drowned in water is waiting to be explore it. The patient ones will see the light.
The city has no limitations (outside the map borders), so we can hop into our boat and look around. Sure, there will be tasks to do, which always translate to getting the emergency rations scattered around – and there are ten of them. The moment we pick one up, the game automatically cuts away to a cutscene and we start over from our starting point at our sick brother, Taku and then go for the next pack. It might be annoying in case we leave the secrets behind, but I get back to it later.
Why did I use this lead? Because we will really go around climbing ledges a lot and also climb those really distinguished red flowers to move around – reminding of Lara Croft, although there is no stamina here, so we can stay on a ledge for an eternity in Submerged. Sometimes, the camera view can change, but it’s only supposed to let you see the route ahead.
A big Journey
The game lets us go around in any order and do whatever we want. The first emergency ration is pretty much the tutorial, but after that, we’re left behind: finding the 8 sights of the city, the 8 creatures (who will not harm us at all, in fact, the dolphins will be friendly and follow around), and we also have to rely on figuring out the city’s story by collecting the sixty secrets, which all give one piece of image each. Mika’s and Taku’s story gets four images after getting a ration and at the start, making these pretty much a chapter each time these appear.
We can tune up our boat, there are twenty-six pieces lying around, slowly adding up to the boost amount, which will be essential, as the city is not that small and towards the end, faster travelling will be better to not have those empty minutes around for long.
The way that Submerged leaves us on our own reminds me of Team ICO’s and thatgamecompany’s Shadow of the Colossus and Journey, respectively: our own interpretation and pace makes Submerged different: it doesn’t make us hurry to our next destination, so in case you want to get the city story pieces, you can do so. You will get some help with your telescope, which will help putting visible items afar on your map to get them later, helping the maximalist runs a lot.
You cannot die in this game at all. The water creatures won’t break your boat, driving the boat in a bad way won’t make your transportation impossible and you cannot fall of ledges either. This gives a great, calm ambience to Submerged, which is a rare and underrated factor nowadays. I have to say something about the city though: sure, the post-apocaliptic sight is present, but the nature took back the rule and because of this, the top of the skyscrapers/high buildings all have flowers and trees on them, making the whole game look… natural. This is also helped by the day/night and the weather cycles as well. You might leave Taku at sunset and get the ration at sunrise.
There are no words
The game doesn’t have actual speech in it. There are a few words, but not all of them are comprehensible. Instead, you really have to rely on those images. What about the music? I do admit that I say many times that the games I review have decent music, but this time around, I really do mean it: those piano compositions are amazing. It’s sad that they stop playing all the time I go off the main route of those rations to get the secrets picked up. To me, it was a bit disturbing.
The graphics? Unreal Engine 4. This is an excellent idea (and up to a certain profit, it’s also free), and it makes the game look really good! The water looks brilliant, almost giving it a surreal, hypnotising look, but the framerate might be a bit of a problem. The PC version ran perfectly though.
What is up with all these negative ratings?
I don’t understand the Metacritic average of this game. Sure, it might be a short game – about four hours, but I still had to collect everything -, but really? Is this a game that deserves a 4 and a 5 out of 10?! To me, it’s a stylishly obscure, abstract, cheap (15 British Pounds, 12 for Plus subscribers, plus gives a calm and an interesting ambience.
Uppercut Games put down the violent style and opened the gates of peace instead. This is what The Chinese Room tried to do with Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture and I say: Submerged in my eyes a better game than THAT – Submerged is made by a small team without any hype, and it silently achieves what is wants to.
So if you want a different slice of platformers, then I recommend Submerged. It throws away the current trends and reminds you of older, successful games, while it doesn’t want to be a popular title, instead, just a little, peaceful game. This is why I give it an 8. If it was a longer game, it would be somewhat closer to a 9 instead.
You have to be patient to see the entire story. Sure, it gives you almost no help, but after the first steps, you will fly. Just like Submerged: it’s a bit lacking in bravery, it’s underrated, but silently performs well.
+ A really calm experience
+ This is how you are stylish in audiovisuals
+ Unreal Engine 4: please let this become the standard
– A bit short, but not that expensive
– If you’re impatient, you’ll quickly get bored
– Graphical issues
Publisher: Uppercut Games Pty Ltd
Developer: Uppercut Games Pty Ltd
Publication: Aug 3, 2015