Submerged Review

Screenshot of the protagonist from Submerged taking her ill brother to shelter
Here is the protagonist and her brother

Quick Info
Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
Developer: Uppercut Games
Publisher: Uppercut Games
Release Date: 4 Aug 2015
Time played: 3 hours

Diving into the Pile of Shame

As an experiment, I started looking at my Pile of Shame and tried to determine which games were the worst games on my list, at least according to the website Metacritic. Most games that I review nowadays seem to receive a score around 7 out of 10 which means most of the games I've played range from not bad to exceptional. Rarely do I review a terrible game and while some would argue this is a good thing, it got me thinking: am I just really forgiving when it comes to reviewing games or are games nowadays generally of a better quality than they were three to four decades ago?

I soon discovered that there were only four games on my Pile of Shame that had a Metacritic rating below 50, so that already suggests to me that almost all games in my library have a "passing" grade, but I guess in the world of video game reviews, getting a pass isn't something to celebrate. The four games were Hello Neighbor with a rating of 38, The Chaos Engine with a rating of 40, Submerged with a rating of 47 and Iron Sky Invasion with a rating of 49. I read that Hello Neighbor is a survival horror game so I'm giving that a miss for now but I did start playing The Chaos Engine (again, as I played this game in my youth), Iron Sky Invasion and, of course, Submerged.

I was initially interested in this indie game since it was developed by an Australian studio and appeared to have charming graphics as well as an interesting environment to explore: a flooded city in a world wracked by climate change and rising sea levels. When the game was on sale with the soundtrack for only $3 back in January 2019, I just had to buy it.

So, is the game as bad as Metacritic makes it out to be or is it a case of critics being too harsh on the game? The game currently holds a "Mostly Positive" rating on Steam based on 75% of the 4,047 reviews being positive, so it's entirely possible. Let's get into it.

Screenshot of pictographs that explain the story in the game Submerged
You can recover pictographs that will tell the story of your family and the city you stumble across

Set Sail for Gathering Supplies

You play the role of a girl driving a boat to the flooded ruins of what looks like a 21st century city. In the boat is your injured brother who needs urgent medical attention. You come across some shelter and over the course of the next few days, you'll scavenge supplies from nearby buildings by driving your boat to them and then climbing up them, similar to Ubisoft open world games like Far Cry or Assassin's Creed where you climb towers to unlock sectors of your map (except in this game, you don't receive that benefit). Once you gather supplies at the top of a building, you'll return back to your brother with them and the day will end.

What you'll immediately notice about this game is that it has a beautiful, minimalist soundtrack composed by Jeff van Dyck, a veteran in the industry known as the composer on the early Need for Speed games, the Total War series, Hand of Fate and Unpacking. The game also takes a minimalist approach to sound by just focusing on the environment. So, you'll hear the sound of the waves crashing, the outboard motor sputtering, the wind howling, the weird mutated sea creatures whistling and not much else. There is no intelligible conversation at all in this game and you'll piece the story together by collecting pictographs you'll find scattered around the flooded ruins of the city.

Screenshot of a clock tower being scaled
Scaling towers is what you'll be doing a lot of in this game

Sinking Expectations

And that's really all there is to the game. Unlike Ubisoft open world games, there is no combat in Submerged so if you don't enjoy driving a boat around a flooded city or scaling walls in order to progress the story, you're going to get bored really quick (I daresay that's probably why the game received a low rating on Metacritic). The game also doesn't take very long to complete, clocking in at only around 3 hours, but I actually ended up quite enjoying it, despite its short duration and lack of combat. It's a relaxing, casual diversion from other games and at the same time, it's an ominous warning of the consequences of global warming (even more confronting if you happen to have visited Australia - some of the landmarks look very familiar).

Screenshot of a half-submerged tower in the game Submerged
This looks a lot like the Telstra Tower in Canberra, but Canberra is an inland city...


A cut-down version of open world Ubisoft games, Submerged does away with combat and focuses on the climbing of towers as its core game mechanic. The game is short, only clocking in at three hours but it's also a nice calming diversion from other games out there and lets you explore an environment wracked by the effects of global warming.

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  1. I thought this may have been a game about submarines :(

    1. lol. If you were able to dive underwater in this game, who knows what secrets you could uncover? Maybe even decommissioned Collins class submarines?


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