Song of the Deep PS4 Review

As many of you know, I consider video games to be the quintessential form of escapism. They allow us to get a break from our boring lives in order to explore a new world. That's why I never fully understood the obsession modern developer show towards dull, flat playgrounds. Sure, your game could take place in yet another recreation of a popular city. But why not transport the player into a unique, memorable setting? Song of the Deep, Insomniac's latest title, decides to take us into the magnificent, yet sometimes creepy ocean. Is it a trip worth remembering? Let's find out:

Song of the Deep tells the tale of a 12-year-old girl by the name of Merryn. When her father, a fisherman, goes missing at sea, she has a vision of him being trapped at the depths of the ocean. Determined to find him, she crafts a submarine and jumps into the water, hoping to rescue her loved one. Gameplay-wise, it is a 2D Metroidvania.

The game is made by the team behind the 'Ratchet and Clank' franchise, and you can tell the beautiful environmental design perfectly carried over into this new IP. The gorgeous visuals will remain stuck in my head for months to come. Song of the Deep absolutely takes advantage of its original setting, creating an authentically refreshing artstyle. As I roamed around, I was amazed by the amount of color and detail present in every section. From the varied marine life, to the rainbow-like vegetation, it all has heart, and it masterfully brings the experience to life. Having said that, the environments not only look good;they're well-crafted.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the map is among my highlights. Similar to the great Metroidvania games, Song of the Deep features a large interconnected world map, with a multitude of different areas. What truly surprised me was how exotic every segment felt. They each had a specific theme, that was unlike any of the others. These include jaw-dropping gardens, terribly obscure caverns/caves, and even a buried city of gold. The variety kept things moving, encouraging you to visit every single corner of the cartogram.

Another positive I have is the impeccable tone. It's extremely rare for a game to encourage you to relax and take your time. However, Song of the Deep meticulously tries to slow down. Personally, I loved it. The soft, delicate color palette eased me into it. Nevertheless, the soundtrack is the real star. Seriously, it's sensational. The music is full of instruments and emotion. Plus, all the songs fit very-well with the mysterious underwater journey. The combination adds a much-appreciated air of tranquility.

When it comes to the narrative, it's sort of forgettable. Don't get it twisted, the story has a rather good foundation. I instantly related to Merryn, and her quest to locate her family pulled my heart strings once or twice. With that being said, the whole thing is quite predictable. Think about what you expect is going to're probably right. It's worth mentioning that the dialogues are presented in a charming cartoon style, with a solid narrator progressing the storyline.

Lastly, we discuss gameplay. This is where the review takes a turn. Now, certain aspects of the gameplay are exceptionally well realized, like the upgrades. When critiquing a Metroidvania title, I always compare the abilities and powers the character possesses at the very beginning, to the ones they own at the end. Here, there's a massive contrast. You're able to modify your submarine, adding weapons, tools, and even letting Merryn step out of the watercraft. As you become stronger, you're able to return to previously unaccessible doors. This time, you can use your newly gained items to open said portals. Inside, you'll discover anything from life/energy upgrades to treasure chests.

Sadly, the one negative I have comes with the way Song of the Deep plays. Whilst it occasionally offers solid, yet repetitive combat, you'll spend most of your time solving puzzles. I love it when a game deliver difficult riddles that reward you handsomely. But that simply isn't the case here. I wouldn't describe the puzzles as "challenging". If anything, I'd use the word "time-consuming". The majority of them are basic, while a few slightly annoying ones require to carry a bomb somewhere without letting it hit the walls. From top to bottom, it just isn't that much fun.

Verdict: With a wonderful sense of exploration, an incredible artstyle, and an unforgettable soundtrack, Song of the Deep lands the presentation side of things. With that being said, its pros are occasionally overshadowed by lackluster gameplay, keeping it from being a game I'll come back to.

The Good
- Remarkable Artstyle
- Well-Crafted World
- Perfect Tone
- Stunning Soundtrack

The Bad
- Lackluster Gameplay

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