Song of the Deep is quite a departure. It’s a small-scale project from the exceedingly busy developers at Insomniac Games, as well as a first for US retailer GameStop and their new publishing arm. Though there are some obvious cracks in the foundations, this venture ultimately proves fruitful, producing a beautifully warm and whimsical nautical adventure.
We met Song of the Deep with an immediate fondness that was, at least in part, slowly chipped away.
One constant seal of quality persists in Jonathan Wandag’s stellar musical score.
Boss encounters don’t do much to enliven combative proceedings, the three present simply serving as arenas in which you fight waves of the same standard enemies in their place.
Unfortunately, a number of tedious mechanics further hamper the experience. Naval mines awkwardly dangle from chains and escorting them routinely ends in disaster; this is frustrating in itself, but travelling back and waiting for another to spawn each time intensifies the feeling. The sub can be crammed into corridors that it isn’t keen on coming out of, pressing B to leave the map or pause screen will activate sonar and can scupper your progress during puzzles, whilst one particular chase scene is inexcusably bad. Enemies that can’t be combatted spawn atop you, executing insta-kill grabs from ludicrous distances as you wrestle with the controls that, in this instance, lack the necessary precision.
One constant seal of quality does persist in Jonathan Wandag’s stellar musical score. It’s simultaneously magical and heavy with sorrow, mirroring Merryn’s internal struggle. It firmly anchors the player to the world and ensures it’s one they’ll want to stick around in, despite the issues.
Reminiscent of favourites Child of Light and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, we met Song of the Deep with an immediate fondness that was, at least in part, slowly chipped away. A beautiful story, an enthralling world, lovable characters and outstanding presentation don't excuse the fact that numerous gameplay elements - the area that matters most - simply aren't much fun to engage with.