Playing Submerged (a new game by Uppercut Games) brings up that classic argument of what kind of experience must we have in order for us to say we just played a game. You cannot die in Submerged, there are no enemies. Simply put this is an adventure game at it's core, beautiful visuals and platforming and camera angles that harken back to those Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time days.
Story: As you play the narrative is woven through tiled pictures, you break down the story for yourself. It keeps things fairly simple; you are Miku (a young agile girl) and you are searching a sunken, devastated cityscape for supplies to help your wounded brother.
Gameplay: There is a distinct lack of a jump button, but this is by no means game breaking, in fact I would argue that it all feels very intuitive. The stick movements are really all you will be moving, making use of the camera to spot collectables with your telescope. There is a fair amount of traversing in the boat also requiring the triggers, and some use of the X button. Some may argue this game seeks to hold your hand, in some ways it does, but the hunting of secrets felt rewarding at points - and I loved it. The minor letdown is just how long it takes to traverse the buildings, so if you aren't a collector then you may be left wanting.
Visuals: Uppercut Games did wonders here, the game is truly gorgeous. It has a little postcard mode built into the menu and I couldn't help but screenshot almost consistently throughout. The skyboxes are a wonder, dynamic shifting weather patterns and day to night cycles. At least a few times the frame rate had some drops here and there, I imagine due to loading in parts of the city as you shoot through it at speed. There are many times I left the game running and did almost nothing, just appreciating the atmosphere.
This game will not be for everyone, there are things to find, such as secrets, boat upgrades, landmarks and creatures which fill in the story of the world you occupy. These help you uncover the full breadth of the map and see all it has to offer, if you want to uncover all the secrets it certainly pads the length of the game too. It's not crazy challenging, but it makes a very strong argument for games being appreciated as art and an experience. The music is gorgeous with great ambient noise filling the beautiful post apocalyptic city.
Ultimately Submerged isn't too taxing, it's not the longest game either, but it's lovely to look at and it felt fantastic to explore the overgrown cityscape, uncovering it's treasures. I'd go back again in a heartbeat.