For Miku and Taku, the sea is all they know. While never going underwater, the siblings in Submerged Hidden Depths spend as much time on the water as on what land remains. Living on a boat in the oceans of a flooded Earth, like Kevin Costner in 1995’s Waterworld, the two will discover a sunken city overrun by plants. In it, they’ll try to build a new home for themselves. At the same time, they’ll solve the mystery of the disappearance of the remnants of humanity.
Mystery and exploration: a relaxing duality
Sequel of the 2015 Submerged, Hidden Depths launched in 2022 as an exploration title, a restful game without enemies to fight. Instead, the game offers a relaxing atmosphere in which players can calmly discover themes of climate change and family. The focus is on exploration. With simple platforming controls, the game is a pacific adventure game. Climbing the ruined skyscrapers, players discover a new ecosystem. A sort of magical plant has taken control of the remnants of the city. Enormous roots connect buildings and floors. Giant flowers radiate power, through which they are able to imitate animals creating plant mock-ups of dolphins, penguins and even humans. Players freely explore the city by boat and can climb each skyscraper when they see fit. In them, they’ll find the story of the city’s fall scattered around in diary pages, while solving environmental puzzles and unlocking the secrets of the plants.
In Submerged Hidden Depths the siblings are a small family
In this post-apocalyptic world, the two protagonists are constantly on the run. Like the family in 2016’s Captain Fantastic, they live on the verge of society, hidden away in the wilderness. But while they share Viggo Mortensen’s character’s distrust of humanity, the reason differs. Because of Miku’s supernatural ability to connect and influence plants, she terrifies people. Thus, the siblings are used to live on their own in the wilderness. When they arrive at the city, Miku and Taku join forces to explore it. Taku drives the boat and fishes old trinkets from the water, while Miku goes on exploring the ruins of skyscrapers.
Because of her powers, Miku feels responsible for her brother. She doesn’t want him to get hurt and can pass as overbearing sometimes. On the other hand, Taku doesn’t want Miku to explore alone, but at the same time, he fears his sister’s connection to the plants and her powers. Learning to trust and rely on each other will be the siblings’ biggest challenge. Together, they are able to shed light on the city’s past and build a safe haven to live in.
Climate change and humanity’s responsibility
Submerged Hidden Depths is quite open on its theme of environmentalism. The world has been submerged and humanity struggles to survive. They have abandoned modernity and returned to simpler society organizations. But even after the apocalypse, humanity keeps destroying the world. Like in The Green Knight, humanity’s arrogance causes ripples around nature. The sunken city’s giant plants are sick. In a desperate attempt to cling to old society, people have stolen seeds of power, plugging them into electric grids powering decadent totems to consumerism. As a result of her powers, Miku feels the plants’ pain. She tasks herself with freeing the seeds, returning them to the flowers they were stolen from.
Like in Hayao Miyazaki movies, nature is personified by supernatural entities. These plantlike gods are enraged by humanity’s actions. However, as the game doesn’t feature enemies, they are more like characters to understand than obstacles to remove. Thus, understanding humanity’s place in the world is the lesson Miku and Taku learn in order to build a safe haven where people and nature can coexist.