Song of the Deep Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Song of the Deep. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
Water levels in games rarely work, but don't tell Insomniac Games that. Song of the Deep, the studios new metroid-vania style platformer takes place entirely in the deep blue. Though the results are mostly mixed, Song of the Deep and Insomniac Games should be commended for at least trying to remedy a problem that's been plaguing games and game players since the early days of the NES. Song of the Deep's heart is in the right place but it never fully achieves the lofty goals it reaches for thanks to an unreliable control scheme and a lackluster second half.
Right from the start, it's easy to fall in love with Song of the Deep. It's kids book style story is presented in a gorgeous palate of watercolors and accompanied by a remarkable score that combine to make the world pop with life. A young girl named Merryn lives with her dad in a seaside town. She's grown up with him telling him stories of mysterious kingdoms and monsters living under the sea but she's always shrugged them off as just that; stories. That is until one day her dad goes missing and she does what we all would, construct a fully functional submarine and go searching the depths of the ocean for him. Soon she realizes that there's more to his stories than even he knew.
There's always something to see in Song of the Deep and the further you go the more outlandish they become. Insomniac has captured the feeling of exploring uncharted waters here and the sense of danger is always matched with a sense of adventure that will keep you moving forward. Whether you're shooting enemies with your torpedoes or figuring out an ancient puzzle, you'll rarely be bored with Song of the Deep. The game also features a pretty rewarding skill tree that forces you to choose between more firepower to deal with the increasingly more powerful monsters or outfit your sub with tech that will allow you to travel further easier. Curiously though Song of the Deep makes much of the major upgrades available pretty early on in the experience so I felt like I was just going through the motions near the middle and end of the game.
That's really a recurring problem with the game though as you can't help but feel like the game showed all of it's cards way too early. As I played through the game I couldn't help but feel like I've already seen what the game was showing me and that sense of exploration slowly started to fade away. Keep in mind that in the early portions of this game, I was nearly in love with the atmosphere and the world it created. I wouldn't necessarily say that it got lazy in it's second half but Song of the Deep relies too heavily on certain ideas to the point where they become common place, a major problem for a game about discovery and adventure like this.
Sadly though, that's not even the game's biggest problem. At it's core, Song of the Deep is a side scrolling platformer with metroid-vania style elements. It requires perfect timing in some sections, which doesn't gel well with it's underwater setting. The game's floaty physics make sense in the water but you'll curse them when you're required to be in any one place for any certain amount of time or even worse at the game's timed puzzle sections, which will require you to move faster sometimes than even the game will allow. While playing the game you start to figure out how move within the game's rules but it's never reliable enough to build a platofrmer like this on. Making matters worse, I never really got that fluid sense of motion that makes a good platformer great so nearly every time I found myself truly getting in to Song of the Deep, it;s core mechanics took me out of it.
Despite it's remarkable style and outstanding score, Song of the Deep feels like it was doomed to fail even before it was released. The developers gave it a remarkable try but there's a reason why so few games are this based on underwater movement; the physics just don't mesh well with a platform like this. I couldn't help but fall in love with the world Insomnia created but it's frustrating mechanics causes Song of the Deep to more tread water than explore the ocean blue.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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