Friday, April 13

Review: Deep Ones [Nintendo Switch eShop]

A big struggle for indie games is overcoming the stigma of being cheap and some variation of shovelware. This is particularly true for games that have a retro look, as people tend to pile on assumptions that things that look old just aren’t as good. Being both an indie fan and someone who has played games dating back to Pong these sorts of assumptions offend me on multiple levels. That said, there are then unfortunately games like Deep Ones that come along and basically fall into just about every negative assumption and stereotype people could have about both indie and retro games, and they harm everyone else by their existence.

It seems that your submarine has been taken by a massive sea monster and your goal is to move along the ocean floor in the hopes of retrieving it. Initially armed with only very slow movement and a jump (not to say you ever move faster, just that you start out with very little you can do) you’ll find that you’re pretty fragile in your diving suit. Mere bubbles from an aquatic plant will hurt you, though oddly enough you can walk right through the plant itself without damage, and you’ll need to be sure to jump precisely so you won’t plummet to your death. As you move along you’ll eventually get yourself a little gun of sorts, making you at least slightly more capable, though it fires at an absolutely glacial pace.

Odd pacing, limited and sluggish control, janky enemy movement, and frustration are all pretty well constants in this title which makes no sense given its appearance that can’t be consuming more than a fraction of the system’s power. For whatever merits it could possibly have it is simply an exercise in aggravation to play and has pretty well nothing to really enjoy. This offends me on a few levels, both in terms of the perception people may walk away with about indie games but also what they may think about the quality of games from the age of the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum that the graphics in Deep Ones mimics. Regardless of the comparatively primitive graphics games may have had in that era even then this would have still been an awful game. If you still are interested in the title be sure to check out the available demo first and be really sure you want to waste your time, let alone your money, on it.

Score: 2

  • It has a demo you can try first

  • By the standards of any generation this would be a terrible game
  • Controls are limited and yet still not terribly accurate
  • Mere turtles are effectively more lethal to you than larger and more imposing angler fish
  • Enemy movement is janky in a number of places
  • There’s simply no joy to be found, only frustration