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Submersed - Review

Developed by Main Loop Videogames, Submersed has received a few different accolades, including winning an award for Best Basque Game at the Fun&Serious Game Festival, and it was a nominee for Best Debut Game by GameLab. Directed by Jose Antonio Muñoz, which is also the sole programmer and lead designer, this is one of those titles where we have to recognize the efforts, but also come to realize its flaws.

A strong point of Submersed is the story, setting up players in the shoes of Jack Ballard who is involved in a rescue mission to a research facility underwater. Things start off on the wrong foot, when the helicopter taking him there crashes on the landing, resulting in the death of his partner. With nothing but bad news, the worst is yet to come, when the remaining survivor of the facility warns Jack about what lurks beneath…

It’s not one of the strongest scripts out there, but it ends up working quite well, since there aren’t many dialogues, and most of the story events are found through documents, reports, and emails within the game. It’s well contextualized and delivers a fantastic placement of events. The concept is really good, and although its execution fails to aim at the intended level, the production was well planned.

In Submersed you’ll traverse the facility in search for survivors, only to find a deeper and dangerous threat. Although the inventory system is archaic and rigid, it’s possible to pick objects and even combine some to create lockpicks, and other utilities. It’s a take on the first-person game, except without any guns. Instead, the flashlight will probably be your best friend.

Some sections will require you to use a diving suit and traverse underwater areas. The gameplay won’t change much, but some mechanics will become more interesting. Since there aren’t any real fights, it’s almost like a mystery based adventure, but sharks do exist, as you possibly guessed it by now. Stealth will be your best way, and for these, the mechanics actually work. Sharks A.I is as simple as it can be, but works.

It’s possible to create a weapon based on lightning and even an electro charged grenade, but the item management and the safe-deposits that work exactly like the ones in Resident Evil, weren’t correctly placed. This leads to the lack of a proper planning and always feeling cluttered with trash. This is the type of game which needs a prompt telling players a certain item is no longer needed. Unfortunately the overall gameplay is very stiff, and it shows, as most of the issues could have been fixed if given more time.

I sincerely want to give a positive feedback and recommend this one, but it’s a tough decision. The gameplay should be further polished, and it’s locked at 30fps. This alone is unjustified and ridiculous. The lack of options is another feature lacking, usually typical with games using Unity.. Resolution and Quality, ranging from Low to High, are the only optimizing settings you’ll get. There’s not even an option to control the in-game audio. All the remaining options are languages, brightness, and the Y-Axis, useful for those playing with a gamepad.

With such a lacking amount of settings, the whole experience is set for a doom finale, but there could be a hope somewhere. The visuals are simple, but they work for the most part. I only wish I could have removed the excess chromatic aberration, but in terms of visuals, everything was decent. The voiced over cast did a great job, and although I noticed a few discrepancies between voices and subtitles not matching, it’s not a big deal.

If the idea of stealthing your way through sharks, or diving into a complex facility underwater is appealing to you, then Submersed may fit your taste. It shows some intense and interesting things across a campaign between 2 to 3 hours, creating a great atmosphere, one I recognize as a low, but satisfactory experience.

If you absolutely can deal with the poor optimization, Submersed will probably surprise you, especially if purchased during a special sale.

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