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Exploring the ocean sounds like a daunting task. We have explored most of the land that covers this earth, yet we haven’t even seen half of what lies within the ocean floors, vast caverns, and rocky crevices. A video game about exploring these depths is rare and in Song of the Deep, we follow the story of a young girl named Merryn, who always sees her father off leaving for adventure and patiently awaits his return. He always come back with stories of lost cities, underwater dangers, and mysterious creatures. Yet one night, he never comes back, leaving Merryn distraught. So she does the unthinkable, embarking on a quest to discover what happened to her Dad, discovering that not all her father’s tales were make believe. Just as the real ocean is both beautiful and scary, Song of the Deep showcases there is more to the ocean than bright blues and friendly animals.
Under the sea.
This undersea adventure takes place within the context of a small little submarine that could. The world underneath the ocean is bright and sunny, with wonderful vistas and relaxing sounds of the ocean. Things feel peaceful and calm, even though the narrative of the story feels otherwise. I felt myself consistently impressed with the charming 3D visuals and bright colors on display. This put me in an almost faux sense of state as these moments were fleeting and brief as the ocean consistently grew to be a deeper and more dangerous playground.
Price I’d Pay: $14.99
How long to beat: 6+ hours
As I continued to explore the vast network of tunnels, unlocking warp points, new upgrades, and shortcuts in the levels, I was reminded of games that have come before in this genre. From Castlevania to the more appropriate reference, Ecco the Dolphin, this is one game that provides a great time for those that like to explore and backtrack to open previously closed off areas. One ability I was quite surprised to see was Merryn gaining the ability to dive outside the sub, to explore smaller crevices and areas and gave me an almost Blaster Master vibe.
As Merryn continues to find herself further away from the surface, the stranger and darker things get. From vast caves filled with deadly crabs, jellyfish, and odd looking sea urchins, to an entire undersea city, seemingly abandoned but not entirely lifeless. For an entire game taking place underwater, not only is it beautiful but it’s surprisingly varied. There is a huge element concerning battling the undersea creatures, but as the game progress there is an abundance of interesting puzzles to solve. One moment had me scratching my head when it came to different colored light beams, or another time when I had to move an explosive without triggering its detonation. These moments always seems to stump me for more then a few seconds, seemingly a bit more intimidating than they ever truly were, but I enjoyed the vast majority of puzzles overall.
There are a couple elements that get in the way of keeping this game at the top of its genre and one is performance. For a game looking as it does, which is to say more artistic then technical, it’s a shame to see moments of slowdown and choppy performance at various moments. They usually never last more than a few moments but every time it happened, it just pulled me out of the experience.
Combat can fun and the controls hold up appropriately enough but I found some frustration in navigating and dealing with the enemies, especially when players are stuck in an area and have to fight waves and waves of enemies. It feels like a way to block players and progression. Grabbing blocks and projectiles with the claw is fun, but then trying to aim and throw them felt hit and miss, mostly with the grabbing and letting go. Weird camera issues have occurred also where it stops tracking the sub and I’d have to leave and reset the submarine at times, which is a bummer.
A seaworthy time.
Song of the Deep is a nice, solid length, beautiful side scrolling adventure game that will take most players anywhere from 6 to 10 hours to complete. Lots of hidden treasures to find, upgrades to purchase, and secret areas to discover. Genre wise it’s not doing anything that most other games haven’t done before it, but the setting and story are unique and just captivating enough to provide players with a wonderful undersea fairy tale. It has a few bumps along the way, but as a first attempt in the genre, Insomniac proves they’ve got the talent and heart for a game of this nature and for $15 it’s an absolute steal, totally worth player’s time.
My favorite moment: Song of the Deep is absolutely filled with charm and atmosphere, though the moment the sea turned from bright and cheery to dark and creepy, I was hooked.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.