Who doesn’t love a good horror game? Its always fun to be chased by some evil creature or to have masked murderers jump out at you from around corners but Under: Depths of Fear goes for a more physiological approach and has you face your inner demons all the while trying to survival while on a sinking ship. Sounds like an interest concept, right? Though is that where the fun stops. I got my hands on a Nintendo Switch copy of the game and was eagerly hyped to jump straight into it.
The game has you play as Alexander Dockter a traumatized WW1 Veteran, you will try and survive aboard an eerie turn-of-the-century ocean liner as it begins to sink and fill with water. If that wasn’t bad enough you are being stalked and sabotaged by vengeful entities that just don’t know when to quit. All in all, sounds like an amazing game with a thought-out concept just a shame it doesn’t really take off.
Mechanically, Under: Depths of Fear is as simple as it comes which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You navigate the ship trying to solve puzzle like scenarios while trying to avoid drowning or getting caught by the entities that are hunting you down. You’ll have to find keys, open locks and read through notes to progress through the ship and try to escape. There are areas of the map that can get really dark and you need to use candles to light up the way but sadly this isn’t always the case as the game has an issue with its brightness and most of the time even with the candles you can’t see anything which makes navigation near impossible. There are a few jump scares thrown in every now and then but sadly these loose there scare factor really quickly and the only thing you start to become scared of is the water that is inevitably filling up the ship.
While exploring the ship you will come across documents, collectibles and audio tapes that add to the story and help flesh out a broader story than just a man on a sinking ship but ultimately, I feel as the story lacks and really isn’t the games selling point as I didn’t feel gripped to it at all. My main fun for the game was trying to find all the keys and escape the water so that Alexander wouldn’t drown. The entitles aren’t really scary and are more comedic with the way they move and act. I wish they were scarier and had a bit more life as I think this would have heightened the overall gaming experience and gave me something else to fear.
Graphics doesn’t make a game; it only adds to it but when it comes to Under, I’m very torn on whether I like it or not. When playing on handheld the image looks a little bit clearer but when played docked the image look horrible on my TV. Not only this but the game is so dark at parts you literally struggle to see anything even with brightness maxed and using your little matches to navigate round the sinking ship. I understand it might have been made that way for effect but the player still needs to see where they are going and limiting the amount of matches you have and also them not lasting that long really doesn’t help because not everyone might be able to progress through parts as quick as others. It is also incredibly hard to be scared of the demon like men in this game as they literally look like PS1 avatars and move like they’re from the PS1 era. I jumped the first time I saw them but then after the second and third time it was like damn! the devs didn’t look after you at all.
The ship itself is good, the atmosphere and sounds of gushing water and flickering lights really add to the suspense at times when you have to try and navigate an area when it’s filling up with water. Though you don’t really have time to take a lot of it in because of demon man chasing you or just not being able to see anything because of how dark an area is. The water physics are good but when you go below the water it ruins the illusion and your kind of just walk under water until you drown. There isn’t really a swim or tread water mechanic you just sink and that ruins the gameplay a bit for me.
Other than to collect the hidden collectibles I honestly couldn’t see a reason to play the game again. Sadly, once you have played this game once I think you have done all you can. You know where everything is, you know where the jump scares and enemies are and because the game is so short you can finish it while waiting for Warzone to update, maybe not that short but you get the picture.
Docked vs Undocked
I preferred playing the game undocked over docked as the imagine quality was better and it made it easier to navigate round the ship. It was nice at times playing it on the big screen while the lights were switched off but it didn’t give me a fright like I was hoping it would. I wouldn’t really see myself playing this out and about so it doesn’t really utilise the switched mobility as it is best played in a dark room to help with the whole atmosphere the game tries to capture.
Sadly, Under: Depths of Fear starts off good but then like the ship itself starts sinking and losing all real drive to play it. With the odd jump scare that eventually gets boring the only thing that kept me playing was the little puzzle like areas and the parts where you have to try and escape the water. It is a very good idea but the game feels more like an alpha game to demo a possible bigger project. I know it is an indie title but if you compare it to other indie titles this one could get lost in the waves. The graphics are standard and the fact that the game is short doesn’t add to it. You can complete it in one sitting if you can put up with the very dark environments and the fact that it gets really hard to know where to go or what to do at times. The story is there but nothing special or memorable. On the plus side it is £9.99 on the Switch so if you want to check it out it’s not a lot of money. Though for me it was the trailer that drawn me to it and I should have probably left it there as the game doesn’t really shine as much as the trailer does. For these reasons I’m giving Under: Depths of Fear a 5 out of 10.
- Developer: Globiss Interactive
- Publishers: Globiss Interactive, Rogue Games, Gamera Game, Shanghai Game Mirror Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Android, Microsoft Windows
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.
This version of the game can be purchased here for £9.99
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