Now I’m not a massive fan of the sea. There’s more down there we don’t know about than what we do know about and it gives me the heebie jeebies. Naturally I was a perfect fit to review Deep Ones.
The game is a Lovecraft inspired deep sea platformer designed to look like a Spectrum or C64 game. It also has a similarly sparse story like games of that era but that doesn’t hold it back. You set out to sea and are set upon by a Kraken who sinks your submarine and the adventure begins.
You play as a guy in an old diving suit, you’ll jump gaping chasms, shoot all manner of sea life and fight pirates. Personally it evoked memories of Dan Dare with the graphical style of Jetpac.
There’s also some light puzzling in later levels and a sprinkling of boss battles which can be pretty tricky. And it’s not just the bosses that are tricky, with its influences clearly being games of the 80s, the controls can be a little imprecise. Initially I played with the analogue sticks but quickly found the D-Pad to be a better option. It feels like there’s a delay in everything you do, so timing has extra importance.
The platforming sections are interspersed with chase scenes where you rush towards an exit. As well as that you also have a few bosses that will stand in your way. Sometimes figuring out how to best them wasn’t clear so there was a bit of trial and error.
It’s quick a pretty game as well if you can appreciate those old sprites. Nothing is overcomplicated – backgrounds are basic and the colours flash out of the murky black background. It sets the scene well and gives you the impression of being deep underwater. One particular highlight are the caves you traverse at the beginning. They are beautifully lit by glowing coral with schools of flickering colourful fish swimming about.
There are also a few subtle Easter eggs which give subtle nods towards various games. I got a good laugh when I came across the tavern from Monkey Island.
It’s a tidy little game overall. I liked the aesthetic and I’d say the music was forgettable but it sent me back to my youth. The game is fairly lengthy and reasonably challenging. It’s also very niche and a lot of people will miss out on a little nugget of history recreated here. Unfortunately it’s not perfect and the occasional poor signposting held up progress at times. If you want a taste of the 80s or a tough little platformer I recommend you have a look at Deep Ones