Submerged: Hidden Depths is a combat-free exploration game from independent studio Uppercut Games and is the follow-up to 2015’s Submerged. The sequel expands upon its predecessor with a new setting to explore and puzzles to solve.
In Submerged: Hidden Depths, players control a sister and brother duo named Miku and Taku as they explore the remains of a city submerged underwater. Players will guide the two as they embark on boating excursions to various sunken structures, most of which are the remains of collapsing skyscrapers that once belonged to the lost civilization.
As a combat-free game, Submerged: Hidden Depths puts exploration at the forefront of its experience. A majority of the gameplay involves cruising around on your boat and exploring various landmarks throughout the city. The boat handles fine most of the time, though it can be a bit unruly in tight spaces.
The major points of interest are typically large corporate buildings or other structures that feature environmental puzzle solving and platforming elements. Puzzles typically consist of climbing, activating platforms, and carrying objects to eventually be able to restore an area. There’s no way to die in this game, so there’s no need to worry about falling off a building or making any real mistakes.
The sister, Miku, has a special power that allows her to restore areas that have been ravaged by a mysterious dark entity. You will play as her most of the time, though there are some instances where Taku will spring into action. There’s no dialogue in the game beyond some written captions detailing Miku’s thoughts, but you can still glean a lot from character expressions and context. The narrative is slowly revealed as players solve and restore major locations in the area.
The puzzles are complex without being too challenging or time consuming. The game allows players to customize the color of environmental clues that gently hint at where to go next in an area without being intrusive. Hidden Depths also features excellent sound design cues that help guide players toward hidden collectibles and items, making headphones a must.
If you are a collectible hunter, then there is plenty to keep you occupied in Hidden Depths. While exploring the open seas, players can find boat upgrades as well as relics that can be put on display at your home base. In puzzle locations, players can also collect special shells that unlock new customizations such as hairstyles, outfits, and boat styles. There are also diary entries tucked throughout each puzzle location that reveal details about the city’s backstory. Players can use the map to fast travel between places they’ve been, making it easy to return for missed collectibles, even after the main story finishes.
Stunning vistas and beautiful scenery are where Hidden Depths shines. Figments of marine creatures like whales and dolphins beckon players to slow down and take in the sights while out on the open seas. Meanwhile, the top of a skyscraper may act as the perfect vantage point for admiring a sunset or scoping out your next destination.
Despite its beauty, I didn’t necessarily find myself compelled to hang out in the world for very long. I was more driven toward solving puzzles, restoring the various places of interest, and progressing the story. However, that experience also proved to be rather short lived, as I wrapped up the main story in about five hours. Though I have more collectibles to find and creatures to discover, it is unlikely that I will return to seek out the rest.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia.
This game was reviewed on PC. Guide Stash received this product free of charge.
Graphics, Sound Design - 8
Gameplay - 7
Story - 6
The gorgeous scenery and relaxing gameplay are captivating for a time, but the experience is ultimately short lived.