Two of the Frugal Gaming writing team review- Depth.
There is something inherently terrifying about being submerged deep underwater surrounded by complete darkness. Relying solely on the light from your torch as the only way to illuminate your surroundings, any signs of movement can cause a wave of panic to ripple through you. It could just be some harmless flotsam or it could be a 20ft Great White Shark; stalking you, waiting for just the right moment to strike and rip the flesh from your bones. Deep below the ocean’s surface the greatest struggle is the one you have with your mind. There is nothing more frightening than your own imagination and here in the cold and lonely depths, your nerve will be truly tested. So, why do it? Why should you put yourself through such an ordeal?
Money, for one. The oceans of this world have long been the grounds where treasure hunters will brave in search of untold riches. You and three like-minded souls are tasked with accompanying Steve, an autonomous robot, to search out the lost and forgotten and plunder it for all it’s worth. Keep him safe and all the loot will be yours, but keep your wits about you, there is something down there which also enjoys the thrill of the hunt, its prize isn’t the gold which the sea has claimed, its reward, is you.
The Depth is a 4 vs. 2 multiplayer game, where you either play as one part of the four person team of underwater explorers, raiding sunken vessels for all their worth, or as one of the two great white sharks, resolute in their search for prey. With a limited number of respawns it’s a race against time, can the divers stay alive long enough to escape with their plunder ? Will the sharks have enough lives to stop them?
Thankfully these divers have come prepared with all manner of weapons and equipment. Starting with a lowly pistol and a handful of flares, your arsenal can be increased if you’re brave enough to scour the ocean floor for loose pieces of treasure. Venture too far alone and you will be easy pickings, but if you are too timid you will find your choices severely limited and the task of staying alive will become that much more difficult. As for the sharks, each successful kill will be rewarded with an experience point which can be used to further enhance its natural abilities. From increasing the range of your sonar to rapid stamina regain, with enough kills you can become an almost unstoppable killing machine.
Playing as a diver feels rightfully slow and a little cumbersome, especially when compared to the effortless way the sharks glide and dart through the water. You know that you are being hunted by something far superior and the feeling of tension never leaves you; the truly excellent sound design only enhances this further. When a shark draws near you are warned by the sound of your own heartbeat pulsing ever quicker, which makes staying calm that much more difficult.
Sadly with only one game mode and a limited number of maps, it can become a little stale after a while. The lack of visual customisation is a bit disappointing, it leaves the whole game feeling a little empty. That being said, the underwater world has been well represented and the atmosphere is outstanding, encounters are fraught with tension. Tactics and teamwork are essential regardless of which side you choose to play as and the difference between the two is noticeable. The biggest problem with The Depth, it feels rather shallow.
Score – 7/10
Depth is an interesting concept. Take four divers and a robot named STEVE, and send them off on a search for treasure among sunken wrecks. Seems pretty simple – until a pair of earth’s oldest predators are thrown into the mix…
It pits man against beast in a fight to the death. The ace up Digital Confectioners’ sleeve, however, is that the sharks are both player controlled. Yeah.
That’s all well and good – but how does it play?
Very well, actually. Gameplay is smooth as butter, maintaining well over 60FPS @ 1440p on my (admittedly very high end) rig. It appears to scale well and shouldn’t be too out of reach for most systems.
It’s pretty, to boot. Simple, yes – but pretty. In my playtime I haven’t yet encountered any noticeable bugs or glitches. Good stuff. The dismembered corpses of dead divers in particular look great – if you like sheared bone and tattered flesh. A special mention goes out to the design decision that was made so as to leave the aforementioned corpses twitching where they were killed, before finally letting go of life and going all underwater ragdoll, which the physics engine handles just nicely.
Controls are lovely and smooth, with plenty of customisation options and key rebinding available to you – and I detected no hint of mouse acceleration or appreciable lag.
Actually playing the game is good fun, be you shooting and looting as a diver or nomming the living daylights out of people and seals as a shark.
Being a diver is all about teamwork. Each of the 4 players has a wealth of gear available to them, from pistols and rifles to full-on harpoon guns. Sea mines too, but don’t take these unless you intend to lose. “I know, I’ll put this mine in this doorway so that the sharks get blown up! I won’t tell the rest of my team, it’ll be fine!” -All 3 teammates swim towards door as the shark hits the mine and are killed by the explosion- “I thought they’d have learned after the first 21349012398 times!” JUST DON’T. Sonar sensors on the other hand – yes. Spam them. Lots of them.
When you have a half-decent team with you, you can co-ordinate netting and blasting the sharks into little pieces, watch each other’s backs… All sorts of the kind of things that will help you win. If not? Well, erm, try and stay alive yeah?
Map knowledge, spacial awareness and (surprisingly enough) a bit of teamwork will help you win.
Sharks gain perk points for kills, letting them modify the damage they do to STEVE (which can slow him down and eventually destroy him, preventing the divers from escaping) or allowing them to ‘sprint’ without using stamina for a few seconds after spawning, etcetera. The inherent issue with this system is that if you charge in and die lots early on without racking up any kills – you will fall behind FAST. The second a diver who’s a good shot gets a harpoon gun, you’re going to have some trouble.
Teamwork early will allow you to pick off individual divers, or force them to move into a position where your friendly shark can chomp on them. Knowing the map will allow you to master your charges to separate divers from their team, or surprise them by coming through the ceiling.
It’s also really satisfying to eat people. Or maybe that’s just me.
Erm. Well. Um. Probably not.
Don’t get me wrong – Depth is a whole hell of a lot of fun – just not for very long.
Progression is handled by an experience levelling system, rewarding you with a random gear unlock or new perk to try out with each level.
That’s it though. The maps get a little repetitive, and the core gameplay never really changes. I find myself going back to it – but only ever for a couple of games, then I switch to something else. I’d really like to see more game modes, or maps, or radically different divers/sharks introduced.
Overall, it’s a solid game. Depth’s main problem? It’s lack thereof.
Since this review played they’ve added a new game mode (Megalodon Hunt), a new map (Devil’s Head), there’s now a class system for Sharks (with Tiger, Great White and Mako sharks available), and more with our ‘Big Catch’ update: