The original Submerged came out nearly seven years ago, and it took quite a while for a sequel to be made. It made its way to Stadia in 2020, but is at last heading to Steam on March 10. Submerged: Hidden Depths promises another slab of relaxing exploration for players to get lost in, and I got to experience it for an hour. Upon starting this surprise sequel, it became clear that this is one of the most gorgeous games I’ve seen in a while. It obviously wasn’t made by a AA or AAA studio, but that hasn’t stopped developer Uppercut Games from crafting something that’s truly a visual marvel. I’m already quite fond of the game, so let’s dig into just what I saw.
Submerged: Hidden Depths has you take control of a young woman who travels the world on a boat alongside her younger brother. An apocalyptic event has occurred that caused the world to be overtaken by something called Mass, and the sister has powers related to this unknown entity. She has flowers growing all over one of her arms, plus she’s able to pick up and place seeds that grant life energy to massive plant roots. Story is doled out in tiny chunks, as well as by finding pages that translate backstory when you find enough.
As Submerged: Hidden Depths promises a focus on exploration, that is undoubtedly the truth. There’s no combat, no stress. Your character can’t even get hurt. There also isn’t any platforming, although you can climb a large assortment of things, including vines, poles, and ladders. The way the game plays out is that you can get on your boat and look around using a telescope, marking any points of interest you see. Once marked, these locations appear on your map and on the compass bar at the top of the screen.
Motorin’ around a drowned world
Your main goal is to go to places that require you to re-energize roots with seeds. In my hour with the game, I hit a few of these, one of which was at the top of a ruined hotel, and another I discovered in a huge, derelict ship. There are often a few minor puzzles to manage before you can start freely navigating these areas. The seeds you find can open pathways and are often placed in baskets to ferry them across locations, as your movement options are more limited while carrying them. Exploring these areas and figuring out how to get seeds to their destinations is simple, intuitive, and enjoyable.
Of course, there are things to do in Submerged: Hidden Depths that aren’t related to seeds at all. You can find upgrade pieces that increase your boat’s boost bar, as well as find old objects in the water, jot down what creatures and landmarks you came upon in your journal. I greatly enjoy of games like Hidden Depths, and I’m eager to see more of what the game has to offer. The beautiful ocean stretching out before you is quite the enticing sight, after all, and who doesn’t love to hunt for sunken treasure?