Partnering with GameStop’s newly created video game publishing label GameTrust, Insomniac Games has provided their latest adventure title in Song of the Deep. You, as the player, control 12-year-old Merryn, who has built herself a submarine in search of her missing father. Believing he has become trapped somewhere below the deep dark abyss, Merryn sets off on a quest to bring him back home. On her travels, Merryn begins to discover that the tales her father used to tell her as a child may have been true this entire time.
The visuals themselves are the star of Song of the Deep. Insomniac has done a good job of creating distinct, at times beautifully crafted, levels with memorable design. The creatures you meet along the way, the carcasses of abandoned ships, and structures lost to time all help make Song of the Deep’s levels visually pleasing and spellbinding in scheme.
The narrative surrounding Merryn searching for her father is also worth investing your time and energy into. From the beginning, their relationship is well established that despite their lack of money, they still find their purpose in each other as a family. So when the father eventually does go missing, you back her rash decision in building a submarine to find him. Sure, the plausibility of a twelve-year-old building a fully functional submarine in the span of a few days seems unlikely, but who this is a video game is we’re talking about, enjoy the insanity of it all.
On the other hand, Song of the Deep feels painfully average other than the visual appeal and sufficient narrative. The combat mechanics are fairly weak and uninteresting, having the player mostly rely on a claw to attack enemies. What’s worse is that you get no real satisfaction from killing the deadly underwater creatures anyway, as enemies are more annoying than challenging. They just pop up to slow down progress, which can be said for the boss battles as well, since they come off as mostly uninspired with their lack of difficulty.
And despite Song of the Deep supposedly being a mix of adventure platforming and puzzle solving, the puzzles thrown in are also relatively dull. It just boils down to “Go find this thing and put it where it needs to go.” Seeing as to how Insomniac Games made some excellent puzzles in “Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time,” you can’t make the argument that Insomniac was just inexperienced with proper puzzle solving levels. Rather, it just comes off that Song of the Deep was more of a side project while they were busy working on “Ratchet and Clank” for the PlayStation 4, a better game.
If you’re not a fan of underwater levels, Song of the Deep definitely isn’t going to change your mind, seeing how it’s basically just one giant underwater level packed into a campaign. However, if you’re looking for a satisfactory diversion for the weekend, you could do a lot worse than Song of the Deep. Sure, I’ve played much more enjoyable underwater adventures in games like “Rayman Legends,” but it’s far from Insomniac’s worst outing. If you’re the kind of gamer interested in a visually pleasing, undemanding adventure to turn your mind off to and relax, this game will probably suit you best of all. There’s a sense of sweet simplicity in Song of the Deep’s underwater adventure, but it never quite dives to the depths it desperately wants to reach.