Song of the Deep is a metroidvania video game developed by Insomniac Games. That sentence alone was enough to entice me. In the game, the player controls Merryn, a young girl who crafts a makeshift submarine to search for her father who went missing while fishing.
The introduction to the game really grabbed me. The charming storyboard like cutscenes combined with Siobhan Hewlett’s soothing narration immediately setting the whimsical tone. It’s so effective with its charm that you will likely develop instantaneous warmth towards Merryn and her plight to save her father.
The game plays as a two-dimensional side-scroller in the style of a Metroidvania game. Areas of the game’s world require the player to locate special improvements for Merryn and her equipment to surpass obstacles and explore further. While there are enemies in the game that can harm Merryn, the game is aimed less towards combat and more on exploration and puzzle solving, with some emphasis on the nature of how objects behave underwater.
You control a small submarine as you explore a variety of underwater environments. Eventually, you gain the ability to have Merryn leave the sub and swim around. This is helpful as there are narrow caverns that she can fit down that the sub cannot.
If you’ve played any video game that falls into the Metroidvania sub-genre then you should know what to expect from Song of the Deep. It features a large interconnected world map that you can explore. However, access to parts of the world is limited by doors or blockages that can only be opened after Merryn has acquired a new weapon or ability. Acquiring such improvements will also aid Merryn in defeating more difficult enemies and locating shortcuts and secret areas. As a result, you’ll be doing a lot of backtracking if you want to find everything.
Firstly, let me just starting by putting it out there that I really enjoyed Song of the Deep. However, that doesn’t exactly mean that it is without a couple of problems.
The overall aesthetic of the game is very pleasing to the eye. The artsyle used during cutscenes etc. is simply stunning. However, during gameplay I found the visuals to be a little rough around the edges. The game is drenched with colour, almost fairy tale like. At the same time, certain areas look a little jagged. The submarine itself just doesn’t look as good as it could have. Still, I give credit to the developers for the size of the world and the amount of variety within it. This is a nautical adventure and they manage to cover all the bases of what you’d expect to see.
The main thing you’ll be doing in Song of the Deep is solving puzzles. If that isn’t your thing then I’m not sure you’ll enjoy it. You fight some enemies, solve a puzzle and repeat. The whole game is like an endless puzzle, it’s a little overkill. Therefore, as time goes on all of the puzzle solving can begin to wear you down.
Traversal in the game is often a cumbersome experience. The controls are very responsive but somehow just don’t feel right. Squeezing the sub through multiple caverns while bouncing from wall to wall can be quite infuriating.
Combat becomes highly repetitive by the end. There is a decent variety of fantastical creatures but I would have liked a bit more.
Regrettably, I suffered a game breaking glitch at one point due to the often poor camera in the game. It froze up completely; even restarting the game didn’t fix the problem. Thankfully, I managed to escape this but it just shouldn’t happen. The camera would sometimes zoom in really close for absolutely no reason.
The soundtrack in Song of the Deep is beautiful. In fact, I highly recommend the game for that aspect alone. I’m an absolute sucker for these types of games. There is just something so enjoyable about them.
Song of the Deep has issues but I can confidently say that it is absolutely worth your time. The story had me fully emotionally invested from the very start to the heart-warming finale. There is no dialogue other than the narration itself which I found to be highly effective. This is mainly because the narration is fantastic, I loved it.
Overall, Song of the Deep tells a touching, wondrous and fanciful tale about a young girls strength and desire to save her father. I really enjoyed it, I’d love a sequel.
Song of the Deep