Submerged tells the tale of a young woman, Miku, who has to search the ruins of a once great city, now flooded, to find a cure for her sick brother. It’s a game that focuses on the human spirit.
Central to Submerged’s game play is the young woman’s telescope, which can be used to scout out the locations of 10 emergency packages that contain life-saving items for the boy. You guide the young woman to the boat they arrived on, scope the city with your telescope until it highlights an item then steer to it. Once at the location, the young woman will have to ascend the building/monument to reach the package (it’s signified by parachute remains drooped over the side of the building).
And that’s it. It’s essentially the same formula until you’re found all the resources. There are no puzzles, no codes to decipher, no foes to defeat to reach the packages (although, every time you find a package you get a glimpse of some strange mutated humanoids). I’m OK with that but it does get a little boring after a while.
Submerged looks nice, with the world having a lived in but abandoned look about it, and it’s at its most impressive, visually, when you’re guiding Miku through the city, the sun setting in the horizon and the sun glittering off the water.
The planet has aquatic wildlife, like whales and dolphins, that will suddenly break the surface of the water just metres from your boat and every time you discover one of the eight species, it is added to your database. It’s quite a thrill to see a huge whale so close.
Submerged is a nice game for just chilling and soaking in the atmosphere but, and sadly, it was released only days before The Chinese Room’s Everyone’s Gone To The Rapture,and that’s going to hurt it.
Both games can be classed as walking simulators, but for me, EGTTR has a far superior narrative, looks much, much better and, importantly, I felt empathy towards the characters of Everyone’s Gone To The Rapture. That said, Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture is an acquired taste that won’t suit everyone. It just happens that I liked it.
Submerged is a nice change of pace to the abundance of shooters and action games but in a game where human emotion is at the forefront, I felt absolutely nothing for the two main characters, despite the story dealing with the lengths that one human will go to save another.
We also don’t learn much about the city and how it came to be flooded, although if you have the patience, you can scour the city for artifacts that will tell more about what happened – but you have to do a lot of climbing to unlock them all.
Submerged is game that shows great promise, and hints at what developer Uppercut is capable of for its next game, but sadly, it just doesn’t offer enough to keep gamers busy or entertained for too long.