Insomniac’s foray into the Metroid-vania genre yields interesting results in Song of the Deep.
Imagine Metroid but in a deep sea environment coupled with dreamy, fantasy visuals. That’s Song of the Deep from Insomniac Games, an underwater side-scrolling adventure focused on exploration and puzzle solving. As a young girl looking for her father, you venture into the ocean with a submarine and explore some impressive vistas. The depths aren’t for the faint of heart though as Sea of the Deep poses its own fair share of challenges when you’re not fighting the controls.
Graphics-wise, Sea of the Deep nails its aesthetic well. You’ll venture from the bustling depths, with glowing plants dancing in the foreground, to crumbling ruins of the Celtic variety. Despite the serious nature of your quest, Song of the Deep embraces its magical aspects with its narrative weaving through all kinds of environments and entrancing you at every turn.
Designing a Metroid-vania style adventure is an art in itself and Song of the Deep shows a strong understanding of the same. New abilities are gained throughout the journey and player will revisit familiar areas at later stages in the game to unlock new secrets. There’s a pretty strong variety to the upgrades that could be required – the submarine itself can be armed with more firepower or enhanced for toughness and better speed.
Puzzles dot the underwater landscape of Song of the Deep and they strike a fine, challenging balance for both experienced and new adventures. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacles to one’s enjoyment will be the controls.
Maybe it’s the underwater aspects but Song of the Deep’s submarine feels too heavy, moving slowly and not providing the kind of quick movements and fighting required. It’s a problem when you’re facing heaps of enemies but it’s especially annoying during the puzzle segments. There’s a strong disconnect created when you know what has to be done but can’t quite react fast enough to do it.
Otherwise, Song of the Deep is an enjoyable adventure. Traversing these environments and heading deeper into the colourful abyss is its own thrill with each upgrade providing a strong sense of progression. The pacing does tend to peter out near the end but for its scope and sense of scale, Song of the Deep will keep you engaged. It’s just problematic when that engagement is interrupted at times by your inability to manoeuvre around hordes of enemies
Insomniac Games is known for its over-the-top cartoony games with buoyant characters and art styles. When you consider that Sunset Overdrive was the studio’s last big release and Spiderman was officially revealed for the PS4, Song of the Deep is an odd stop-gap of sorts for the stories developer. It represents an interesting direction that eventually becomes little more than a diversion. Song of the Deep’s fun comes in bits and pieces and even with the Leviathan-esque controls, it’s an easy time killer.
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