Life under the sea can be a bit tedious.
If there’s something that can be said about the developers behind Song of the Deep from Insomniac Games, it’s that they are a group dedicated to making new experiences for an assortment of gamers rather than the known games that will guarantee them a million seller. Song of the Deep isn’t as quite as unique as Insomniac Games would like to make us all think, but it does show that they are willing to go beyond their comfort zone; and give us an experience that some of us may truly love — and on the flipside give us something that some of us may think is just all right. That’s Song of the Deep.
Song of the Deep opens its scene much like a fairytale story and continues that children’s book theme throughout the game. A young girl named Merryn lived for the tales her father told her of his adventures out at see; and one day on his trip he went out and never returned home to his daughter. Merryn believes her father is still lost at sea and decides to make it her duty to go out into the dangers waters and find him. She builds a submarine from spare parts and sets off on an adventure told through vivid visuals and a voice over that is always lurking close by.
"With its charming story told throughout the experience of exploring a whole other world beneath the sea, there’s a whole lot to explore with some of the best 2D art styles I’ve ever seen."
If you’re big on side-scrolling adventures this game may sound awfully familiar. With a fairytale flair and level design, Song of the Deep feels as though it pays heavy homage to Ubisoft’s Child of Light that centers around a very similar concept. Add to that a story teller with a voice over who describes almost every moment along that way, and you have that Bastion style, as well. Along with collecting items, opening locked paths by going back and forth as you progress and unlock abilities along the way and you have some Metroid also. Song of the Deep seems as though it has all these great ideas in one game, but it never accomplishes anything that made those three games so charming and adventurous.
With its charming story told throughout the experience of exploring a whole other world beneath the sea, there’s a whole lot to explore with some of the best 2D art styles I’ve ever seen. The colors of the sea radiate in lustrous hues of purples, blues, greens, grays, and so much many others. The breath of the palette used to visually stimulate the senses is magnificent and never loses your concentration of just how gorgeous this world is. Like so many pirate tales of lost cities, sunken ships, and buried treasures, Song of the Deep gives life to those tales and allows you to not only see what it felt like to hear these stories as a kid, but to actually live them.
"As the theme of this game has been, the enemies are often one dimensional."
Starting out with scrapped together submarine, — the true star of the game– Merryn slowly begins to find new pieces deep under the ocean, building up her tiny water shooter. Eventually, the submarine can become a mini-force that can take down enemies, strong walls, harpoon, shoot, and so much more. There are moments when Merryn ventures out of the submarine for short bursts, but don’t expect that to happen too often.
Combat in the game relies on the submarine using a grapple-like device and attacking dangerous sea life such as Jellyfish, mean fish, etc. Devices, as stated before become better and more diverse later on as you discover more and unlock more items such as missiles and more. The mechanics of the combat are good but not great, as aiming and moving with one stick works, but those water mechanics kill a lot of the momentum. As the theme of this game has been, the enemies are often one dimensional. You can try and figure out the best ways to attack them by taking your time, but it almost always comes back as doing the simplest solution: hit them with the grapple; enemy bosses aren’t much different either, which is a major disappointment as some of them look truly terrifying.
"Tighter controls that don’t rely on the realism of the water’s sway would have been appreciated."
Song of the Deep lingers heavily on puzzles that are often too tedious and often have little reward for the amount of time it takes just to do the simplest thing. This all involves the somewhat uninteresting controls that just don’t seem as though they want to cooperate very well. Yes, Insomniac Games understands the flux, tug and pull of water and they incorporated that realism into this game decently. However, taking a game of this magnitude where you have to dive through narrow paths carrying sensitive materials that can go off at the slightest touch will become frustrating and irritating. Tighter controls that don’t rely on the realism of the water’s sway would have been appreciated. Fortunately, the puzzles do evolve later on as you progress through the game and become much more interesting.
Speaking of Child of Light and Bastion, Song of the Deep has similar taste in its music. It’s captivating, forlorn, and heart wrenching keys tug at the heart but never let you think Merryn has or will ever give up hope to find her father. Add to that a thrilling combat sense that lighten things up when danger emerges and you are left with some great tunes.
After dipping your feet in the water of Song of the Deep for a couple of hours, you’ll realize that you just don’t want to stay in for too long. Its thrilling visuals and interesting art-style, mixed with its alright combat and irritating puzzles leave this game stuck in the mud.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Beautiful melodies, visually stunning, and workable combat.
Tedious puzzles and water mechanics, traveling isn't fun.
You'll find out while deep under the sea, that this adventure should have remained on shore. With uninteresting puzzles and mixed controls, you may want to think twice,