There are few sounds as peaceful and soothing as ocean waves. This is partly why I find it so easy to fall into a relaxing rhythm when I step into the world of Submerged: Hidden Depths. The adventure from developer Uppercut Games takes place in a flooded city, with remnants of buildings and structures peeking out from the turquoise depths of the water's surface. Beginning on a small boat with sister and brother protagonists Miku and Taku, I follow the pair as they make their way towards the ruin of a dome-shaped structure. As the boat journeys across the sunken cityscape, black tendrils snake up from the water and wrap around nearby rooftops. I'm mere moments in, and Submerged: Hidden Depths already has me intrigued.
As a sequel to 2015's Submerged, Hidden Depths is a third-person combat-free adventure that focuses on exploration. While it launched on Stadia in 2020, Miku and Taku's journey is coming to PC and console on March 10, 2022. I spent an hour with Submerged: Hidden Depths on PS5, exploring the beautiful watery world and trying out some of the easy-going puzzle elements that come into play. Accompanied by a lovely soundtrack and the gentle sounds of the surrounding ocean, I can already see myself turning to this adventure when I want to sink into something and unwind.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is designed to deliver a relaxing experience, and it certainly does just that. You're able to take everything at your own pace, and it never demands very much of you. With the absence of combat, you really can just kick back and explore at your leisure. Once the opening scene has played out, you find yourself in the dome at the center of the city, which acts as a rooftop over now abandoned wooden structures. It's here that you first take control of Miku, who appears to have a special connection with the world. As you're told from the get-go, the sister has a mysterious gift which is shown when her arm blossoms with vibrant flowers as she gets closer to the dome.
After the boat docks, I walk up to a giant black root that pulsates with streaks of fiery orange. My DualSense controller vibrates as I get closer, and I can't help but wonder why it's here and what its presence means. Taku beckons me over and guides me to a small tent-like hut filled with record players and vinyl discs that contrast with the natural surroundings. At the center of this strange, record-filled hut is a large red seed that causes Miku's arm to once again blossom. The seed calms to a natural green shade at her touch, and as I carry it through the dome, flowers bloom at my feet. Once it's deposited, the black plant surrounding the dome reverts back to a natural state, as though I've quelled its anger.
After the tutorial establishes the importance of using the seeds to cleanse areas, you aren't given much guidance on where to go next in this open-world setting. Instead, it's left up to you to decide and discover where you want to go. You can use a telescope to look for more locations and points of interest, or you can just take to your boat and head out in a direction to see what you come to find. When I first venture out into the sunken world, I encounter some fish that appear to be made of roots and greenery that I can interact with. Doing so adds an entry in my journal, which introduces me to one of the many collectible sets in the world that you can try to find and complete.
Some of these collectibles will teach you more about the world – giving you an extra incentive to search every nook and cranny. Each area has a set amount of collectibles to search for, and you'll take on the role of Miku or Taku depending on the location. In order to find them and reach seeds, you'll climb up and around structures dotted around the sunken city by scaling ledges, swinging across ropes, and hopping across platforms. There is a light puzzle element that comes into play as you work out how to get to them, but it's never too challenging to find your way and the climbing itself is a breeze.
I really do appreciate the laid-back atmosphere of the adventure and the way it just lets you dive right in and soak up the journey at your own pace. This is a sequel, but it's also easy to get on board with Submerged: Hidden Depths without having played the first. While I only got to spend a short amount of time in the world, the mystery surrounding the setting and the story is enough to leave me wanting to return and discover what else this sunken city holds. If you've yet to experience Uppercut Games adventure and you're looking for a relaxing experience with plenty to pique your curiosity, this could be for you.
Submerged: Hidden Depths is set to release on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and PS5 on March 10, 2022.