Submerged Hidden Depths is the sequel to the original Submerged, a relaxploration game. It is a beautiful game with a beautiful story and doesn’t require that you have played the first game to understand it.
So what exactly is relaxploration? It means that you are free to explore the world at your own pace, with no enemies to worry about, or timers ticking away. As you probably could guess from the name, the world you explore is almost completely submerged under water, so you will need to use your boat to get from “island” to “island”. Upon finding an appropriate spot to land, one of the characters will disembark to explore it.
Speaking of the characters, there are two that you control throughout the game. The main character is the sister, the same character you played in the first game, that has a magical arm that she can use to manipulate plants. The other character is the brother, who mostly drives the boat but does sometimes explore a few areas.
Back to exploration for a second. What exactly are you looking for? The main goal is to return plant seeds that have been taken to be used as a source of electricity. There are nine larger “islands” that contain these. Also in those areas are flowers to plant at your home base, style pieces to change the look of your ship, hair, and clothing, as well diary pages and animals to document, both of which are also scattered throughout the world. The diary pages are unique in that they are drawings until you complete a set of four, which then displays the text of the story. You will also find boat upgrades, relics to put in your museum, recognizable landmarks, and lookouts that fill in the map around them scattered throughout the world.
The controls are very relaxed as well. There’s not even a jump button! Reminds me of the N64 Zelda games with their auto jump function. You control movement with one joystick, camera with the other, then use the face buttons for the rest. One button for interactions, one for the map, one for the journal, and one for the spyglass which you use to mark locations and collectibles on your map.
As for the overall story, you get a lot from just exploring the world and seeing what it has become. Diaries fill in back story, including the events of the first game. The main story of this game is mostly told through the dreams that the main character has after every seed is returned. There is a little dialog between the siblings, or your character commenting on the area you are in, but most of it is purely visual.
Overall I really enjoyed my eight hours in Submerged Hidden Depths. So much so, that I will be returning to it to find the rest of the collectable when I get a chance. I would recommend it to anyone that doesn’t mind the relaxed gameplay. Since most of the game is consumed one “island” at a time, it’s even a good game in short bursts. I did have a little difficulty seeing visual clues ala Mirrors Edge because they are all red, the color I have the most trouble with.
An Xbox code for Submerged Hidden Depths was provided to me by a key distributor with the expectation for an article of some kind. I played for about eight hours on a Series X, the first hour of which was streamed at twitch.tv/apophis89. I am mostly blind, so some things I have trouble with may not affect your experience with the game. Submerged Hidden Depths is available now on several platforms.