In this stunning game published by Uppercut Games, you find yourself playing as Miku, a young and selfless girl who will do anything to keep her brother, Taku, healthy. In an interesting twist, Uppercut Games have ignored combat entirely and have focused on exploration and story in this third person adventure. You navigate your way through a flooded city in search of supplies to help your wounded brother while pushing your own needs aside as Miku is gradually being consumed by some sort of post-apocalyptic mutation virus. As time goes on, you learn more and more about Miku’s family and what brought her and her brother to where they are now.
The story itself was incredibly interesting, especially as you get to discover more and more of it as the game continues. What I particularly liked however was the fact that the story was actually told through hieroglyphic type drawings– so although the back story of the family and the story of the city are certain and set in stone (excuse the pun), their vague drawings give the player the ability to interpret them slightly how they see fit.
One thing I didn’t particularly understand though was the unusual post-apocalyptic mutated human/alien people who stalk Miku through her journey. Throughout the game Miku’s body is being taken over by a virus, presumably from being exposed to the toxic looking water that she sails on through the sunken city and climbing up the infected mossy and destroyed buildings. With every emergency rations pack you find to help Taku, you see a cut scene of Miku sailing back to their home base to help him – when this happens you see these mutated people watching her and you assume that at the end of the game this is what Miku will become. Miku is obviously aware of them too as in one cut scene she has a nightmare that they are coming to get her.
My instinctive reaction to these mutants was that I would probably have to fight them when the time came to escape, like you would have to in most games. In these moments you forget that this game has entirely disregarded combat. In the end, recovered and healthy Taku wakes up to find the mutants surrounding Miku as they magically release the virus from her, then they allow her and Taku to leave peacefully on their boat. I wasn’t keen on this when it happened personally – I could get on board with the post-apocalyptic virus, the mutated alien-looking people and everything else the game put forward, but the weird magical powers really threw me off. At that point I wasn’t sure if the mutants were actually aliens or not, it just confused me too much.
The graphics in the game are spectacular and they make the game what it is in my opinion. The vibrant colours and the sunken city scene are so beautifully detailed they make you want to sail around and explore as much of the map as you can find just to see it all. The stunning graphics are also contrasted by just how simple the hieroglyphic diagrams telling the story in Miku’s journal are. It all works very well together and I can’t really fault it.
Submerged recently won Best Audio at the Freeplay Festival this year and rightly so in my opinion. The soundtrack is wonderful to listen to while playing the game and fits perfectly. For a game as calm as this that focuses so much on exploration it works as a great backing track. Expectations for the soundtrack are high for this game due to it being provided by Jeff Van Dyck, a BAFTA award winner, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
Now time for the usual question: Should you go and play Submerged? Definitely. I took about an hour and a half to finish the story without all the collectibles so it definitely won’t take much time out of your day and it’s such a nice change from a lot of games you’ll find these days. If you’re looking for something different and stunning, this is definitely worth trying.
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