Uppercut Games’ third-person, post-apocalyptic exploration game, Submerged, sounds like the perfect combination. It’s developed by ex-Bioshock devs (Australians no less), drawing inspiration from Journey and Grand Theft Auto mods to create a exploration game referencing climate change; it’s beautiful, it’s inspired and it’s political. But, is it any good?Submerged opens with a young girl, Miku and her younger brother, Taku, arriving in a flooded city with Taku suffering from an abdominal injury. Playing as Miku, you must explore and traverse the submerged city with your boat, scaling the abandoned buildings to retrieve supplies and heal your wounded brother. Gradually, the items you collect for Taku reveals the tragic backstory behind the two children via pictographs.
With each new wave of pictographs that collectively tell the backstory of these two characters, I became more and more attached to these two characters and their desperate situation. To make matters worse, what’s going down in this city doesn’t bode well either, leaving me increasingly fearful of the safety of Taku as I left him to collect the next batch of supplies I could spy with my telescope. I’m no doctor either, but Miku’s also got this weird bluish-green barnacle like stuff growing on her arms which is never a good sign.What I’m saying, is that the story sets itself up nicely. There’s heaps of mystery and suspense, and then it doesn’t go ANYWHERE! Avoiding spoilers, it just conveniently wraps up with very little explanation or resolution, leaving me, well… angry! Initially, I loved the world, the characters, the premise but then by the end, it felt kind of flat and shallow. The creepy elements never really developed into anything scary, and the tragedy did not develop into anything either uplifting or heartbreaking. Its one of those disappearing-off-into-the-sunset type endings, and not one of those thematically ambiguous endings at that. Ultimately, the story fell disappointingly short.
On a more positive note however, there’s enough potential demonstrated there that I feel like the team at Uppercut Games can do something masterful. Sadly though, this certainly isn’t it.