Review: Song of The Deep
Song of The Deep is a little different from previous titles of Insomniac Games, famously known for creating Ratchet & Clank, but also the recent – and really good – Sunset Overdrive, the Resistance series and more. This lyrical marine game offers a journey in the depths of the ocean, in the shoes of a little girl looking for her lost father. Refreshing and mysterious, this Metroidvania (a genre that is influenced by Metroid and Castlevania) literally dives into a childlike poem, where dreams and nightmares blend subtly, into the world of Merryn, our heroin.
It all starts with a great story that is told by turning the pages of a book with beautifully penciled drawings. A little girl, Merryn, lives with her father, a wise fisherman who tells her tales and rhymes from the depths of the ocean, where he ventures every day… From Leviathans to sirens, the father enchanted the mind of this young girl, and every evening, a candle in hand, the girl waits for her dad’s return by a cliff, like a soft lighthouse guiding him back home. But one day, while the sun goes down on the horizon, the fisherman father does not come back, and night after night, the poor child desperately waits for his return. She took upon herself that he needs help, and decided to build her own small submarine to go into the depths of the ocean and get him back home.
From the first minutes of the game, you will be overwhelmed by the incredible mood of the title. Sweet, seductive, a female narrator gently gets you into the mood describing the settings, and telling stories about the ocean and its many mysteries. The environments are gorgeous, varied, bright colors, subtle lights, and remind me a lot of Ubisof’s gentle Child of Light.
As you progress through the abyss, you discover an enchanting theater set full of old ship wrecks, whose hulls and pirate skeletons seem to hide many secrets, gigantic statues evoking marine legends, dangerous enemies, a sunken city which will probably make you think of the mythical Atlantis, chasms without end, a mysterious tower in the distance, half blurred in the dark water. It is impossible not to be charmed by these sceneries, painted into a delicate artistic achievement, in 2.5D engine, making the traveling process and enchanting experience. Each of the melodies that accompany your wanderings charm you like the song of a siren, sometimes sweet, sometimes disturbing, often intoxicating, but my only complaints is the way they are “overlooped” in some stages, that they become annoying.
As in any Metroidvania, this lyrical adventure narrated in the style of a fable by the sweet voice of a storyteller, will force us to return to may areas and improve and build our skills to advance in the game . Merryn will have to constantly upgrade its submarine by incorporating essential elements and tools to unlock inaccessible paths and discover new areas. Slowly and gradually, the map of the sea will be drawn as you enter new areas, revealing labyrinthe corridors needing all sorts of requirements to finally unlock all gates.
Our young heroine will thus collect coins and pick up treasures here and there in order to buy improvements for your tools, from your trusty hermit crabs, which acts as a seller of the seas… At the beginning of the adventure, the small submarine will start by improving its grabbing hook to attack enemies, grab objects and latches to open certain passages, but you’ll find even more things to upgrade such as mobility boosts and more.
It’s thanks to all these new skills that Merryn will unlock more areas of this sea labyrinth, such as a propeller boost to fight against ocean currents, use projectors to push away light-sensitive critters, or even use some bombs and torpedo to break different types of walls… All this while you loot antiques and treasures (indicated on the map), to be able to upgrade all your equipment, including eventually a deep-dive wetsuit, giving Merryn the opportunity to step into some passages too narrow for the submarine and unlock certain mechanisms.
Unfortunately, the Insomniac Games title while having many qualities has also its own weaknesses. While the functions of the submarine, gameplay concepts and fighting mechanics are quite weak. The maneuverability during combat phases is fairly nebulous and imprecise, with countless delays spoiling the experience by getting you to a stage of frustration.
Moreover, the underwater fauna or bestiality in Song of the Deep sadly lack of variety, including the bosses, and fatigue can quickly settle while playing… Finally, if the puzzles are many and varied in the game, they may seem a bit too simplistic to fans of the genre. Everything is clear and won’t be much of a problem for veterans, which is too bad, because this difficulty is also the roots of a Metroidvania.
Eventually, Song of The Deep is a refreshing trip, a poem, a tale of mermaids and fairies for those who like to dream, contemplate and relax. If you are looking for sharp and challenging gameplay, you are not in the right sea, as it will take you 5 to 6 hours to complete the game, which is an honest lifespan but not for the genre.
Song of The Deep was reviewed using an Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Insomniac Games. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Delightfully poetic.
• Amazing creative direction
• A magical soundtrack
• Imprecise combat phases.
• Too easy when it comes to puzzles and riddles.