App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Submerged Miku and the Sunken City is a game I was really looking forward to this year. It seemed like it was going to provide a Team ICO-like experience on mobile, complete with some stunning visuals. While that does seem to be what Submerged goes for, the game falls short in a variety of ways, making it feel like a very shallow experience.
In Submerged, you play as a young girl in a pretty dire situation. You've somehow found yourself in a sunken, partially submerged city, your brother is hurt, and your only hope of saving him is by using your boat and climbing skills to locate the emergency rations necessary to ensure his survival.
To make your way across the city, you have to deal with a pretty awkward swipe-based control system. Luckily, Submerged doesn't require a lot of precision or timing as you play it, but you'll still likely find yourself swiping to climb and accidentally just shifting the camera on more than one occasion.
As you explore and gather supplies, you'll uncover some of the backstory of both the city as well as the events that led you to this place, which is probably the most interesting part of the game. Unfortunately though, none of the backstory revelations feel particularly rewarding, partially due to the their ambiguous nature, but more so because they aren't as interesting as they could be.
As you find these secrets, they'll get logged in your notebook in the form of tribal-looking art panels, allowing you to piece them all together later. It's a system that works, but it's a little frustrating that the game's backstory is reduced to what is essentially a crude storyboard.
A shallow sea
The most impressive thing about Submerged is its aesthetic. It's visuals, audio, and general art design create a great atmosphere. It's just too bad that the game does so little with it.
Aside from climbing and boating around, Submerged doesn't offer up much in terms of gameplay. There's no real puzzle-solving or other mechanics beyond strictly traversal. There are some hidden collectibles, sure, but nothing that really requires much in the form of challenge for players. As a result, Submerged doesn't feel particularly deep in any regard.
The bottom line
Submerged is a pretty disappointing game. It creates a wonderful sense of mystery and atmosphere, and squanders it at every turn. The controls aren't great, the story alternates between being predictable and inscrutable, and the gameplay is almost completely comprised of mundane, Assassin's Creed-style climbing. While beautiful, Submerged is just not what it appears to be on the surface.