With Horizon Forbidden West making the rounds right now, it’s easy to overlook other games of its type. If hi-octane action is not exactly your cup of tea, how about putting Submerged: Hidden Depths on your radar? It’s what you would call a “relaxploration” adventure with no combat, so basically, everything you can do in a post-apocalyptic world, except have your life in danger the whole time.
Previously published by Uppercut Games as a Stadia exclusive in 2020 and its prequel developed by former Bioware developers; Submerged: Hidden Depths finally makes its way to other platforms. Not having played the original Submerged, Submerged: Hidden Depths puts you up to speed with Miku and Taku’s plight as they explore an abandoned metropolis to rid it of the Black Plant, a dangerous black substance that pollutes its vegetation.
Seeds of Fate
In its first hour, you primarily control Miku, the sister, as she possesses an ability to sense and purify the seeds to rid of the black plants. Once you purify them, you’re able to fast travel to the said location for easier traversal. You’ll also get a chance to explore the library, another place that’s prompted to be explored at your behest.
As you search for seeds, you could also keep yourself busy searching for pieces to complete cosmetic items as well as diaries that enable you to see the history of the world around you. What interested me was seeing the Remnants, the etched shadows of the previous denizens of said city, forever trapped in their final moments like insects caught in amber.
As mentioned, since there is no combat here, these points of interest will be what will keep you attached to the game. There’s a wonder to discovering them, and it serves as a good storytelling mechanism in the game.
Time for some Relaxploring!
You can unlock new story beats back at the Dome, and from there, you’re able to explore the open world of the city and you’ll receive a telescope to search for points of interest. The main goal really is to collect the seeds in order for Miku to heal the city.
Traversal with the motorboat is straightforward, and you can also collect boat upgrades to make exploring the world faster and more convenient. You can scour the world for landmarks, cosmetic items, and more diaries to expand on your codex.
During side quests, you take command of Taku, who has the same traversal capabilities as Miku but lacks the ability to cleanse. So there will be some areas that need to be cleansed before you could explore further, allowing for at least a bit of planning before heading out.
Just like any other open-world adventure, you’re also able to claim Outposts to reveal more points of interest without utilizing your telescope. It’s really interesting to see what came about of the old world being destroyed by global warming. You’re able to discover creatures as well, but since it’s a non-combative game, they’re not hostile and only serve as shadows of their previous selves.
I’m curious to see where the story of Submerged: Hidden Depths takes us and what new secrets lie as we uncover more seeds and open up more of the world. The game is shaping up well despite not having any real “stakes” due to the lack of combat, but exploration is somehow satisfying, and discovering the rest of the world looks like it holds promise.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is coming to the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC at an unspecified release date.
*Submerged: Hidden Depths has been previewed on a PS5 with a preview code provided by the publishers.