Submerged: Quiet Waters

Games in which exploration is the primary goal can be hit-and-miss, depending on player preference. As for me, I enjoy these games much more when there is some Myst-like puzzling or the kind of impetus provided by Anna Anthropy’s REDDER: an idea that there must be something more. Submerged presents content cleverly, though, engaging both curiosity and imagination.

Even in the opening sequence, cutscenes are carefully composed so you notice unusualness. Questions are immediately raised about your world. And, what is wrong with your brother? Brief panels of story are delivered as enigmatic drawings when you complete introductory objectives. It’s enough, but also just lacking in clarity, so that you are compelled forward in search of more information.

The protagonist is a wiry girl who fluidly scales submerged buildings or navigates a little vessel, to glassy piano music. There is a mix of architecture, with most buildings being covered in moss or breaking down. You can use a spyglass to locate supplies and secrets. Or, simply, follow a whale-like creature for a while, as the sun sets over a crumbling telecommunications tower.

It’s a bit like Papo & Yo, without any of the stress of a crazed monster periodically chasing you. No danger, just loneliness. No linear story either, just burning questions. Designer, Ed Orman, says, “I hope our players find themselves just throttling back the engine in their boat, taking a moment and immersing themselves in the beautiful world we’ve created.”

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