Insomniac Games was previously known for big games like Ratchet & Clankand Resistance. These days, they’re balancing those with smaller, simpler projects like Song of the Deep, a Metroid-influenced undersea adventure.
Song of the Deep arrives today on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. I’ve only played two hours or so, but so far, it’s a perfectly charming action game suited for the sweltering heat waves providing a reason to stay inside.
The game tells the story of a daughter who’s been told myths about the sea by her father. When her father goes missing one day, she has a vision he’s in trouble and builds her own submersible to explore the depths. As it turns out, all her father’s “myths” may hold some truth.
If you’ve played Metroid or countless games influenced by Nintendo’s series over the years, Song of the Deep will feel immediately familiar. You pilot a tiny ship around a series of stages, with many of the areas locked off until you’ve acquired the right equipment later in the game. Early on, most seem to involve barriers that can’t be shattered without a more powerful claw, while others require significant upgrades to your ship’s boost.
(Another one, apparently, requires you to...shrink? I can’t really tell!)
Song of the Deep is as much about progress as it is backtracking; in fact, they’re often one and the same. Detail-oriented players who love cleaning up a map simply to say they did know what I’m talking about. That said, I’d imagine it’s entirely possible to just keep moving forward and beat it.
A retractable claw is how you interact with the world in Song of the Deep. It’s used to (weakly) attack enemies nearby, pick up and toss objects, etc. Based on the trailer, that claw will eventually have the option to shoot things, too.
What Song of the Deep lacks in mechanical depth it makes up for in style. It’s a gorgeous game to look at, accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack, and filled with the slick animations you come to expect from Insomniac.
Not every video game has to change the world; it’s okay for some games to be pleasant riffs on what we’ve seen before. Song of the Deep is one of those games. Pretty, endearing, fun. I’ll definitely be playing more of it soon.