When I was younger you didn’t have the instant information about video games that we have today. You learned about them two ways: either you heard about the game from friends or you just happened to walk into a store, see a box for the game and if it impressed you enough you bought it. Now with the internet it seems that we know everything about a game before we even play it. I am not saying that this is a bad thing but there is something to be said about the feeling you get from discovering a great game. This feeling I thought was long dead until just recently, as I am starting to discover the joys of indie games. As I get deeper and deeper into them I find myself finding a great game I get that same feeling of discovery that I got back when I was a kid. But getting information about their games to people like me is harder for indie game developers because they are smaller companies and usually either don’t have the money because they are using most of it toward making the game or they aren’t backed by big names like Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft. Although sometimes these companies do try to help because these are new titles that no one has ever heard of, it can be quite difficult. These developers typically have to rely on social media and other unconventional ways to get the word out about their game. Getting this information from these sources in my opinion is no different than when I was getting it from kids on the playground. You may have had a vague concept of what the game is but it really wasn’t until you put the game in your system and played it that you truly knew what the game was all about.
“Song of the Deep” is a wonderful example of having that feeling of discovery. Over the last year or so every time I would step into a GameStop I would hear about this game through their TV channel that plays over the counter. I generally go in looking for something specific and don’t pay much mind to their TV channel so I didn’t get a whole lot of information on the game. The only information that I would seem to get was that it plays similar to games like Metroid and Castlevania or as some gamers like to call it “Metroidvania.” In addition to that information I also knew that the creators were Insomniac Games, also known for Ratchet and Clank, who partnered with GameStop to distribute Song of the Deep. This is why GameStop has been trying to promote the game as much as possible. This knowledge, plus the fact that the game was only $15, was enough entice me to preorder it. Yet similar to when I was a kid, I didn’t really realize what I was getting myself into until I put that disc into my PS4 and started to play the game.
Before I get into what my first impressions of Song of the Deep are let’s set up the story a little. The main character of the game is a girl named Merryn whose father is a sailor and as part of his job he would sail out each morning and then come back every evening. Before Merryn would go to bed her father would sing songs and tell stories of his adventures out at sea. These songs and stories would include all the creatures he would encounter, histories of the deep that he would discover, sailor ticks that he picked up, and so on. Even though she figured like any good sailor her father was stretching the truth she enjoyed listening to them. One day Merryn’s father goes out to sea but never comes back and after waiting a long time the girl decides to go after him. She creates a submarine with parts that her father left from older trips and sets out to go find him. What she discovers is that her father’s songs and stories weren’t exaggerations of the truth- they were the truth. It’s your job to try to find out what happened to Merryn’s father and see if you can save him.
Starting off with my first impressions, yes, this game plays like a Metroidvania game should, but it’s so much more. The style of artwork kind of reminds me of both an old fairy tale book and the style of art used in the Rayman Legends video game. The artwork is stunning, beautiful, and just mesmerizing to look at. At times I would find myself actually getting attacked by enemies from behind because I’d sit and stare at the beautiful scenery all around me. The music is just as mesmerizing as the scenery. I find myself calmed by the music even at the most frustrating times in the game. The gameplay is simple enough and reminds of a mix between Ratchet and Clank, Ecco the Dolphin, and an old Jaws game for the NES. Where “Song of the Deep” really shines for me is the story. Video games as a whole don’t necessarily live or die on story like books or movies do. For instance some video games can have an amazing story but terrible gameplay (i.e. “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”), while others have very little to no story but amazing gameplay (i.e. most fighting games). This game exceeds at storytelling and also weaves the tale in a very unique way by having a narrator talk as you are playing. You’d think that this would get old after a while but after playing the game for several hours now it makes me want to find out what is going to happen next.
No video game is one hundred percent perfect. There is always something that can be improved. For “Song of the Deep” there are some problems with dropping frame rates and some minor glitching throughout the game. Yet in my opinion this is no problem and is not diminishing my experience at all.
So in conclusion if you are looking for a game this summer to play, you’ve got a PS4 or Xbox One, you like old school games, and have spare $15 you will not be disappointed.
Video and podcast to come soon!