Friday, 15 July 2016

Deep Water (PS2)

I bought this game over three years ago, and at the time, I had a little play of it, quickly got lost and confused, and put it on the shelf to rot. Recently, I decided to give it another chance, and was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting game with lots of cool ideas. The joy didn't last long, but I'll get to that later.

Also known as The Simple 2000 Series Vol. 54: The Taikai Kemono, Deep Water is an open-world sailing/monster-hunting game in which you sail around a flooded world, going from port to port, taking on missions and buying weaponry and fuel. The world's pretty odd, as it seems to be a post-apocalyptic flooded world, with the tops of ruined buildings peeking up out of the water in some places, but there's actually lots of land, all of it surrounded by steep, very high cliffs. I wonder if there's people living up there, who shun the ocean-faring peasants below. Anyway, as you're sailing around, you get attacked by sharks and pirates (on silly little one-person cannon-boat things) and other angry sealife, and occasionally, you'll take on the task of fighting a giant monster, the giant monster fights being the game's main draw.

The mechanics of playing the game are actually pretty interesting themselves. You never really set foot off your boat, but you are a one-person crew and the game tries to replicate this experience by having you walk up and down your boat to do different things. For example, to actually sail around, you have to go to the steering wheel and controls in the middle of the boat, while to look at the map, change weapons or cool the engines, you have to go to the storage bins at the back of the boat. During combat, you'll be running around the deck aiming your rifle at your assailants, and during bossfights you'll occasionally have to man the harpoon gun at the front.

What I've been avoiding talking about is the huge, absurd, totally deliberate flaw in the game's design: the obscene amount of back-tracking, which would be bad enough itself, but it's vaguely directed back-tracking too. You'll quickly learn that when you see a harbour mentioned by anyone at another harbour, even in passing, it means you have to go there to make the story progress, even if that means twenty minutes of sailing across the map to somewhere you went near the start of the game. Add to this the fact that fuel is absurdly expensive, so the game also expects you to spend hours grinding random enemies to be able to afford refills (though I've found that it's far more efficient in cases where you're low on both fuel and money to just let enemies sink your ship. you'll reappear at the last harbour you visited with full HP and fuel, and half your money gone, which is almost definitely less than the cost of the fuel).

This time-wasting and vagueness mean that I've only been able to fight one of the game's much-vaunted giant monsters. I've received the missions to fight two more, but in one case, the area where they're said to appear are still blocked by barriers, and in the other, I've found the area, but apparently there's someone, somewhere I need to speak to to make it appear, and after a solid hour of tedious nautical errand-running, I just totally lost patience.

I think I can semi-recommend Deep Water. The way it handles the solo sailing is pretty cool, and the fact that it'll probably be dirt cheap means that you're not losing much by giving up on it when it starts trying your patience.

1 comment:

  1. Looks cool. I like anything "giant-fighting" since my first play of Shadow of the Colossus. Fighting giants on the boat sounds incredible.