July 12th saw the release of Insomniac Games’s new addition to Steam, Song of the Deep. A metroidvania, action adventure game, this underwater story quickly became one of my most recent favorites to play. I had a hard time putting it down.
I absolutely recommend using a controller for this game. It is also available for Xbox One and PS4.
Song of the Deep has an interesting story, don’t get me wrong, but you’ll notice from the beginning it’s a tale that is told time and time again: abandoned child goes searching for their missing parent, usually a father, because the mother is not around. However, Song of the Deep does an excellent job of retelling this theme through gorgeous scenery, story book artistry, and wonderful narratives.
The adventure begins by explaining your relationship with your father. He travels the ocean, meeting exotic creatures and wildlife, coming home to take care of his daughter every evening. Although they are poor, they are happy because they have each other. Then, one night, the father doesn’t return and it’s up to you to save him. After building a submarine, you adventure into the depths of the ocean in search of your lost dad.
As I said, sounds like the rehashing of an old tale right? But Song is perfect about never letting that get in the way. With new discoveries, it holds your interest and keeps you on the search. It definitely helps that it is a unique setting, with almost the entire story taking place underwater, aside from the opening and ending scenes.
Let’s just say I was captivated from the beginning scene. I’m a sucker for storybook illustrations and Song used this device for their cutscenes. The opening sequence is told through illustrations and turning pages, and occasionally, throughout the story, you’re treated to the same visuals. I was hooked right away.
The in-game graphics are just as gorgeous as well. The environment and all the creatures you meet are wonderfully detailed and, in some cases, beautiful. Allies and enemies are unique to this world and often interact with you through food, light, and other means. With plenty to explore, you won’t find any scenery that’s bland.
However, I did have one issue in this department: my computer was getting extremely hot. Turning on fans helped, but it was using quite a bit.
Another amazing aspect of Song of the Deep: the audio. I can’t get over how lovely the music is. It fits the environment, the story, and matches the narration beautifully. The Narrator also did a wonderful job. The voice is slow and soothing. Sound effects are never jarring, even when you’re attacked. The creators of this action-adventure did a perfect job of blending the narration, music, graphics, and sound effects into one satisfying experience.
As I said in the beginning, I absolutely recommend that you play this game with a controller. I can’t stress it enough. I can’t imagine playing this with my keyboard; I think it would have been an entirely different experience and not a good one at that.
Every game has a tutorial. What I liked about Song of the Deep was there was no hand holding in the beginning, but they didn’t push you off into the deep end either. They nudged and that’s it. They explained what buttons did but it also allowed you to figure things out on your own. The controls themselves are easy to learn and never cumbersome.
Now, if you’re like me, you might have thought “Underwater controls? …No, thanks” (I was so intrigued with the graphics though that I had to forgo that impulse). As someone who has struggled through Atlantica of the Kingdom Hearts series and hates Vashj’ir in World of Warcraft, I have to say that these controls are absolutely the best I have ever seen in an underwater game. It’s never frustrating and controlling your submarine was never out of hand. If I hit something, I knew it was my mistake and never blamed the game. That’s what it really comes down to: having complete control over your sub. If you go to just slightly too far or hit the boost at the wrong time, you just need to change your maneuvering. It’s a challenge at times, but a challenge I invited and thoroughly enjoyed.
The gameplay, overall, is extremely satisfying. It’s a sigh of relief and a bit of triumph when you figure out the next sequence. Or when you sit back, think about what you’re trying to accomplish, take a look at the map, and then set forth knowing what has to be done. As I said, it’s never too hard, and it’s never unreasonable or unfair. Mistakes are what they are, mistakes on your part. The game definitely challenges but it never punishes the player.
Song of the Deep is a wonderful, heartwarming, satisfying PC game that I had a hard time putting down to write this review. I have already recommended it to my best friend as well as another writer in TICGN that was interested. I can’t stress enough how impressed I was with how everything came together, from the graphics to the audio to the story.
So, would I recommend it? Absolutely. I say don’t hesitate to dive into this underwater adventure.