Developer: VILIAM KORBEL
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 3

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

In the Deep is a game that takes players into the deepest depths of the ocean, minus all of the crushing pressure, deep sea uglies and nasty drowning parts and focuses more on the lovely bubbles instead.

While descending, players have to tap the blue bubbles to add to their oxygen supply. Combos can be achieved by swiping between blue bubbles, which–when combined with star-filled bubbles–will set off chain reactions and multipliers and culminate in a euphoric bonus points bonanza. Tapping red bubbles before they have turned into blue ones, however, will result in a loss of oxygen, so players should avoid them like they would some kind of crazy deoxygenated red bubbles in real-life.

The real star of the show here is the music. 20130613-182907.jpgSoundscapes, whale sounds, popping bubbles and various chimes all contribute to the ambient, relaxing atmosphere. The visuals are pleasant, and everyone loves popping bubbles, but the sense of depth isn’t quite there. There is no real visual difference between ‘Depth 100′ and ‘Depth 700′, besides the on-screen indications. Despite this, In The Deep is visually and sonically hypnotising in its minimalism.

The deeper you go, however, the more chaotic the experience becomes, which really contradicts the ‘relaxing’ vibe the developers are trying to create. Tapping rapidly and getting annoyed after repeatedly hitting red bubbles made me want to punch a whale rather than listen to its soothing communicative sounds. The concept of a ‘relaxing game’ has always seemed flawed to me anyway, because at some point the difficulty and pace of play must increase, which will then lead to a more intense experience, defying the original point.

This doesn’t mean that In the Deep is a bad game (far from it), but it’s quite a jarring experience when one minute I’m nonchalantly popping bubbles whilst listening to the sounds of the deep sea, and the next minute I’m sat bolt upright as I try to stay alive and avoid those damn red bubbles. Still, it didn’t stop me playing it again and again, and it probably won’t deter other players either. Just don’t expect to be put into a state of zen, because that just ain’t happenin’.

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