This game could have been so good! There are so many positives that are let down by one overarching issue.
Submerged is set in a beautifully realised post-apocalyptic world submerged in water. The narrative begins with an escaping brother and sister who happen upon a long dead metropolis. Only the tallest of buildings, statues and structures can be seen atop the green and luminous ocean. You play Miku, the older sister, tasked with helping your injured brother Taku. Armed with a map, telescope, and fishing boat, this third person platforming adventure has no fighting and no failure state. Miku can not fall to her death or mis-judge a gap.
The whole experience is serene using peaceful piano melodies and a slow game pace. When mutant whales or glowing stingray leap out of the water beside your boat, you can’t help but be in awe. Sadly, the pace never changes and scaling the buildings have very variety. Whilst both the main story and back story, evolve through the use of cave painting style picograms, their is no variation in pace and the 10 building journey feels very ‘samey’. You find a building, use ledges, plants and platforms to scale it and at the top is your next objective. There are additional collectibles around the map that include additional story pieces and sights to see.
The weather and day/night cycles show the city in a different light and help create an immersive experience. One task might be completed under scorching blue skies and the next will have you pounded by rain, with the sound of thunder echoing in the distance.
The game is nice and short and can be finished in four hours, if you aren’t a completionist. The story is slow, but good and ‘functionally’ it works. There are weird glitches with the wildlife and I have seen Dolphins jump into solid structures and whales speed up as the boat uses its boost but on the whole the game is harmless and enjoyable.
Submerged has so much potential as the core story is good, the setting and visuals are great, the music is calming and even the lack of talking is fine. Sadly, the lack of any variation, the inability to go inside the array of skyscrapers you visit and niggles such as glitchy fish and unrealistic physics (the main character can’t jump over a one foot wall and must clamber around the outside of a building) all ruin the experience.
Great idea, great style, interesting design decisions but let down by lack of pace, variation and some shoddy mechanics.
I would recommend this if it was on sale as it was a nice (and short) experience but it is unlikely to win any awards.