Games of the Year

Submerged

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Submerged is a third-person combat-free game in which you explore a mysterious flooded city and discover the beauty of desolation in vast outdoor environments. You take on the role of Miku, a young girl who has brought her wounded brother to the city in their small fishing boat. Navigate the flooded city streets by boat, scale the drowned buildings, and use your telescope to scour the city for the supplies needed to save your dying sibling. As you explore the city at your own pace, you encounter the habitat that flourishes in this colorful place and discover hidden objects that piece together the story of a broken world and a broken family.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Submerged is a beautiful exploration game which focuses on providing a tranquil, stress-free experience while also stimulating your curiosity through a story told solely through symbolic drawings.
You take the role of Miku, a young girl who arrives in a sunken city together with her wounded brother, Taku. The 10 short chapters of the game will have you explore the world and gather various supplies to help Taku overcome his injury. Submerged is designed as an open-word game with a small map, one that you can traverse as you desire without having a specific order for the locations you must visit. No matter where you go, the next chapter of the story will be revealed as long as you complete that location.
Submerged is a walking simulator, or perhaps better described as a sailing and climbing simulator. In order to find the necessary items to help Taku, Miku will have to roam her boat to one of the main locations and climb atop the building in order to reach a supply crate. On the way you’ll find several collectible items represented by drawings which narrate the story of Miku and Taku, but also the history of the sunken city. The challenge here relies only on finding the correct path to the top, by grabbing onto ledges, sliding up and down drain pipes or holding onto flowery vines that grow on the outside wall of the buildings. These paths are sometimes linear, but also quite tangled other times, with sequences in which you can easily lose your way or run climb in circles.
It’s an exploration game, and collectibles are a given. Submerged offers over 100 of them, each represented by a child-like hand-drawn picture. For Taku and Mika’s tale or for the history of the city, these act like frames that reveal their story sequentially, one at a time. Apart from these, you can also collect drawings of the creatures you encounter or of the special landmarks you visit, but also upgrades for your boat that will allow you to keep its speed boosted for a longer time.
The visuals are absolutely great and the atmosphere is even better. Submerged is a world full of half-sunken buildings that have been conquered by vigorous vegetation, with lots of areas in which you’ll need to make your way through thick and tall grass or through fields of adorable flowers. The slow rocking of the waves, together with the relaxing background music gives the player a soothing feeling. There is also a day / night cycle, and sunny / stormy weather as well - both of these adding an extra touch to an already immersive work of art.
The game can be finished in around 2 hours, if your focus is only on completing the story. In order to gather the rest of the collectibles, you’d need around 2 extra hours, making it a 4-5h experience for a 100% completion. The map shows the landscapes and the main collectibles as you uncover a region, but Miku can also use her telescope to scout for secrets or boat upgrades, which will then be also marked on the map. Already gathered collectibles are grayed out, which is extremely helpful if in the end you want to use a guide to identify what you missed.
Submerged is a game suitable for those that don’t seek a challenging experience. Its peaceful nature will have you sit back and relax, while exploring the gorgeous world of the sunken city and unravel its story one frame at a time.
Feel free to also check my review of Submerged: Hidden Depths.
More reviews on the Lilly's Corner Curator page

Review from Steam

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submerged is an exploration/puzzle platformer, and one of the rare examples of being actually relaxing. it's not just marketing bullshit to lure in unsuspecting customers, then push frustration and annoyances down their throat. it does start with a full-screen ad for the sequel, which is not cool, but not much else to complain about if you know what you're in for and wait for a decent sale.
the game is set in a mostly sunken world, so the protagonist has to travel around on boat. the main goal is gathering 10 supply crates for her sick brother by climbing buildings that have seen better days assassin's creed-style. I had enough of that there after exactly one building, but it's nice that nobody's shooting here while you're trying to reach the next ledge.
the whole world is available to explore from the start. there's a day-night cycle, doesn't add much besides darkness, always annoying. check it out once, nice view, then I'd rather turn it off or skip it if I could. there's also some weather, mostly rain, and a map that shows various important things already discovered.
controls are really easy, you only need the four directions, no dedicated jump key, climbing up/down and hopping from ledge to ledge is automatic. you can't fall, fail or die, no timing or anything missable or annoying. I would've liked a sprint button to cover ground a bit faster but it's not a huge issue. once a crate is picked up, you're taken home, don't have to go all the way back. I'd say it's a nice touch, but if you'd rather keep exploring, you're out of luck, as there's no fast travel to get back where you were. however, there's a 'fast travel home' option in the pause menu and save & exit, so progress isn't lost if you have to quit.
I was dreading boat controls before I even started, but turns out, it's really smooth and fun to get around like that, no precision docking necessary either. the boat is equipped with a booster, so it's even weirder that the girl isn't, but I found default speed fast enough and I'm the most impatient person in the world. 26 upgrades can be found floating around, they extend boost capacity, which also recharges fairly quickly.
besides the supply crates and boat upgrades, there are other collectibles. landmarks and creatures probably don't count as such, but they're something to keep an eye out for. landmarks are hard to miss, just approach them for a brief cutscene, but creatures have to be spotted with a telescope, which can also be used to mark crates and actual collectibles on the map. most of them you'll run into while climbing buildings with a crate, the rest are scattered on smaller ruins and such. all they do is add images to the secondary story in your journal (the main one is revealed the same way after each crate found).
another type of collectible was added in a 2021 update. once the main quest is done, you can continue exploring and mopping up whatever you missed, but there are also a bunch of locations to visit (or re-visit) and interact with a flame of some description. not sure what happens at the end, probably not much, but I didn't bother with it, didn't even collect all the regular doohickeys.
the whole thing is really beautiful (not so much on my potato but at least it ran without issues), audio is nothing memorable, serves its purpose, and settings are plentiful. separate volume settings, resolutions, windowed mode, v-sync, hud toggle, brightness, various graphics settings, rebindable keyboard and gamepad controls, sensitivity and axis flips.
it's not a $20 game now, nor was it one on release back in 2015, but it's worth looking into on sale if you like exploring, non-punishing platforming and collectibles.

Review from Steam

Worth the $1.99 I paid for it. Not worth $19.99 though.
Short, no stress, no combat, exploration game in a beautiful submerged world.
Easy to 100%

Review from Steam

This is one of those games I will rate as 'recommended' for what it was aiming to do, and 'not recommended' for the actual execution. You shouldn't buy it at full price.
Being an indie game I'm going to be lenient, but I think it had a rather oversized dev team considering the end result. Maybe most of them were hobbyists?
I love non-violent games, serene post-apocalyptic settings (I've been planning in my head my next game for the last few years and it shares just that, although I probably will never get to do it), the soundtrack is quite beautiful, the main character model is good (her outfit reminded me a bit of Nadia, for anime fans), but the rest is so basic... I would often drop to 30 fps on my RTX 3070 card, I didn't know an Unreal Engine game could be that badly optimized. I don't know who I should blame it on. Epic or the devs?
Anyway... At least, the game doesn't overstay its welcome. I finished the storyline in less than 2 hours and a half, taking my time (getting all collectibles in my way), then used a guide to get the rest. In the end, it really looks like a game that was way more ambitious from the start, but they ran out of funds or something. Submerged 2 is probably the actual game they wanted to make, but I'm going to wait until it's bundled, because... do I need to explain?
PS: I rate this review 'recommended' for what it was aiming to do, and 'not recommended' for what I actually ended up posting. Apologies to anyone who did read it.

Review from Steam

Not sure if I should recommend or not. Seems to be quite repetitive...
There are some useless diagrams that are supposed to tell a story. Apart from that it's just trying to find an entry spot and then climb buildings. Collect upgrades and secrets on the way.
Decided for the thumbs up since it's quite unique and has a great athmosphere.

Review from Steam

This is a small non-combat exploration game. The game is short, and the exploration is some what repetitive. The story is meh at best. However, I really liked the game, there was something about floating around an ocean looking for collectables that I enjoyed. I will be grabbing the next game in the series when it goes on sale.

Review from Steam

Submerged is effectively a G-rated version of Shadow of the Colossus - it retains the beautiful landscapes and dizzying heights, but now as a girl's search atop the few remaining skyscrapers poking above the waves for medical supplies to save her brother.
It does share Shadow's main weakness however - the actual gameplay is relatively short, and if you aren't inclined to explore and bask in the wonder of the world around you, heading straight for the objectives will end the game in a hurry.
A beautiful world, pretty music, simple but functional control scheme - and despite my best efforts, I never managed to get stuck our caught up on the polygons, which is an achievement unto itself.

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