Song of the Deep Review
A maritime adventure for all ages, Song of the Deep tells the tale of a young girl who braves the depths of the ocean to find her lost father.
Inspired by the daughter of one of its lead designers, Song of the Deep takes you on a nautical journey below the waves, following Merryn as she seeks to find and save her missing father. Swiftly assembling a makeshift submarine, you’ll plunge into the depths, discovering a hidden world deep below the ocean.
Deep sea exploration
The heart of Song of the Deep taps into the “metroidvania” genre — an open world exploration style pioneered by classic namesakes Metroid and Castlevania, in which you’ll often find new items or abilities that unlock alternative paths in previous areas.
Piloting your trusty submarine around the depths of the Irish seas, you’ll discover useful mechanical parts that can repurposed into new tools for your craft — such as a claw to grab and pull, or an engine booster to help fight against strong currents and reach new areas to explore.
Exploration feels comfortable and natural. As you propel through the waters you’ll often notice inaccessible areas — stone columns and giant carved heads block some paths, while others are simply too narrow to traverse. Each new ability unlocks a huge number of areas, some of which you may have passed hours ago — and the seamless Song of the Deep map is large. Thankfully, you’ll come across tyne portals along the way, which act as instant teleports between key areas.
While you can breeze through the complete game in about twenty hours if you stick to the main path only, there are countless secrets and upgrades to be discovered if you take the time to explore back around each zone as you acquire new abilities. Song of the Deep has much to offer for completionists.
Fish and ships
You’ll soon find that you’re not alone in the deep blue sea — electric jellyfish, anemones, and other nautical wildlife don’t take too kindly to your intrusion, and will chase down and attack until taken out. Enemies often come in swarms but don’t pose too much of a threat; the difficulty curve of Song of the Deep feels fair on the most part and is perhaps on par with a typical Mario title.
While much of Song of the Deep is simple, some areas are a big step up in difficulty. A major culprit is the use of overly sensitive explosives, a bane of all gamers: Fetch a bomb and bring it to another area, but if it touches anything at all, it explodes and you’ll have to start over. Combined with the physics of dragging these around underwater, these sections felt more like a frustrating chore, and each time another mine-escorting sequence appeared, there was a palpable sense of annoyance.
Not all undersea creatures are hostile, however; you’ll bump into a few friendly creatures, including hermit crabs who seek to trade ability upgrades in exchange for the shiny coins you’ve been collecting all over.
In true adventure game fashion, Song of the Deep will pit you against some tricky boss battles. While the game eases you into these with a simple battle, they escalate smoothly and require more more than just the standard “hit it until it dies”: you’ll usually need to use the environment against the bosses, all while dodging and surviving their mechanics.
Beyond bosses, however, enemy variety is limited; many foes are recycled as palette swaps when you enter new areas. A little disappointing when expecting to face new enemies with new attacks, though a non-factor for younger players.
Song of the Deep makes for a fun adventure, and its storyline is great for the whole family; it’s even available as a children’s book. For those craving a metroidvania title, which are especially lacking on console right now, this is a strong pick.