Song of the Deep


Song of the Deep is an interesting game – superficially, it has a lot in common with Aquaria. Visually, it has the same kind of environments – ruins, clockwork factories, caves and kelp forests – but to be fair those weren’t tremendously original to begin with and the visual style of Song of the Deep is somewhat different from that of Aquaria. On a gameplay level you have the same basic options – a way to grapple objects in the environment, a way to boost your speed, a way to light up dark areas and a way to shoot projectiles at your enemies. Again, nothing amazingly inventive on its own, but having played both Song of the Deep doesn’t ever feel like it’s mixing thing up with the core mechanics.

When you get down to the details is when the differences start to make themselves apparent though – Song of the deep casts a wider net than Aquaria, and has a less polished gameplay experience for it. Aquaria was always mostly about the exploration and to a lesser extent fighting enemies, but Song of the Deep wants to be about improvised physics-based mechanics, environment puzzles and chase sequences – sometimes this works, but frequently it becomes a frustrating experience where the controls aren’t quite what you want them to be and any failure is met with resetting to one of the sparse checkpoints. Physics frequently feel similarly awkward, with mechanically simple objects like doors and boxes being unwieldy and unintentionally difficult to pass.

There are not a lot of Metroidvania games with high production values and Song of the Sea is a competent game with strong presentation, but it often feels like its lacking something to make it great. The art is well-made, but lacks any distinct pieces giving the areas a sense of place. The idea of the map showing all pickups helps a lot, but it becomes a bit of a crutch and as such feels like a cheap solution. The movement and fighting is functional, but does not feel particularly satisfying and lacks any design depth.

It sets things up for a sequel and I do want to play it, but mostly for the game to get an opportunity to come into its own.

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Posted on Aug 23/16 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »