Submerged is a single player exploration/adventure game set in a partially submerged city, the remnants of an undisclosed apocalyptic event. You play as a nameless older sister trying to save the life of your younger brother who has suffered a grievous wound that has caused him to slip into a coma. What happens in this submerged city will decide the fate of both you and your brother.
The story in Submerged is quite interesting in its presentation. Rather than relying on dialogue, notes, or anything coming close to resembling that, it relies solely on actual exploration which triggers events and unlocks hieroglyphic frames that in turn unveil a riveting and yet somewhat indistinct tale.
For this reason, while the main story revolving around your attempt to heal and bring your brother out of his coma are clear, the events preceding this and the way in which the world found itself submerged, post-apocalyptic state are completely a matter of personal interpretation.
I found the subjective interpretation of the story in Submerged to be particularly enjoyable. Based on everything I witnessed and interacted within the game, I have drawn this tale for myself (feel free to reach your own conclusions though):
- The world isnt completely covered in water. This is suggested through the hieroglyphs you unlock via completing story goals. The sister and brother fled their home on the boat which you, the sister, use throughout the game due to the events which caused the brother’s severe injuries. The apocalypse seems to have included radiation somehow, as the water and all the creatures have a peculiar coloration and glow to them. The apocalypse also seems to have happened far back in the past as the buildings that remain have been overtaken by plant life and people seem to have regressed to tribalism.
Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts on the story. I found myself thoroughly engaged throughout my playthrough, coming up with theories regarding the world presented while taking in the story arc focus of the siblings themselves. The story in Submerged receives an 8.5 out of 10.
The gameplay in Submerged was quite intuitive. I never found myself having any issues with the controls and experienced no bugs whatsoever.
There are a couple actual gameplay aspects to this game. Your main mode of transportation will be your boat. Simple steering via L/R sticks, acceleration/brakes with your R1/L1, and speed boost with L2. You will find the wreckage of other boats in the city, and these allow you to upgrade your speed boost, which gives it a longer duration. The only real practical use for this is simply to get around the city faster, as there are no enemies to worry about and no hazards to face.
Climbing is the other important aspect to Submerged. You will be seeking out old supply drops, presumably dating back to before or just after whatever apocalyptic events that changed the world actually occurred. The supply drops are found on the top of some of the taller buildings you must climb. The routes upward are rarely straightforward, and each of these buildings also features “secrets”, which take the form of books that reveal a little bit more about the world. The supply drops themselves essentially represent the chapters in Submerged, with each one found triggering the next part of the story as you work towards healing your brother and bringing him out of his coma.
You have a telescope which you can use to get a better view of things. However, a more practical use of the telescope is its help in identifying the location of overturned boats, collectibles and supply drops. There is also a map which I found to be quite useful in finding areas I had missed and remembering where supply drops I had spied previously were actually located relative to my position on the map.
Other things of note in Submerged are the aquatic wildlife which you will observe and in their totality unlock an achievement in the game. There are also a number of landmarks to be found. Each one is named and one of them is required to unlock two more achievements.
The gameplay was fairly well seamless. It deserves a 9 out of 10
Submerged is one of the more beautiful games you will ever encounter. Not only is the desolation, mystery, vibrancy and vigor of this mostly drowned city brought to life in full effect, but the detail involved in every frame was both stunning and awe-inspiring. There actually is a postcard mode in game to help show off the graphics but really, they dont need any help. Submerged is a gorgeous game through and through.
This is an easy 10 out of 10. Few games are as beautiful to behold. You will spend a lot of your play time simply taking in the amazing vistas.
The audio in Submerged was somewhat dynamic, shifting based on mood, time of day, progression through the story and so on. However, in my opinion it was also the weakest part of this game. Though well done, you will have heard every track pretty quickly during your playthrough and then for the rest of the game after that. The saving grace for this is that the music never gets annoying and really just serves as a backdrop to the story and scenery in Submerged anyway. Unobtrusive despite its repetitiveness.
7.5 hits the mark for this category.
Ultimately, Submerged is a game that truly shines in both conveying a sense of desolation and mystery while still offering serenity and a compelling, if subjective story. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game and hope to see more adventure/walking simulator style games offer similarly deep experiences in the future.
One further note for achievement hunters. There is a free roam option after you finish the story so as to find any missing collectibles and ship parts.
8.8 Buildings submerged by an undisclosed calamity that became hosts for a beautiful new, lush, and mysterious world out of 10 possible.