When I discovered Song of the Deep while searching for a game to review, I got very, very excited. It’s the story of a young girl whose father, a fisherman, goes missing at sea. The girl then builds a submarine (as you would) and goes searching for him in the depths of the ocean.
A young girl creating her own adventure and braving the unknown to rescue her dad? Count. Me. In.
But to add even more frosting to what was already a delicious frosting sandwich, the game itself is beautiful. In the preview, you see different ocean settings (e.g. a kelp forest, an underground city, and a reef) and watch Merryn (the girl) fighting her way through jellyfish and underwater currents to gather coins and solve puzzles that she hopes will lead her to her father. Everything from the colors to the music to the visual effects blew me away. I couldn’t wait for this game to be in my life.
My children, unfortunately, were not as enthusiastic. These days they are heavily into games where there are lots of explosions, so the storyline for Song of the Deep didn’t exactly ring their bells. I did point out the bombs and battles in the preview, but they remained unimpressed. And sadly, after we played the game, that feeling didn’t change. But that’s because they’re crazy. This game is awesome.
Song of the Deep is presented to you as a series of stories that Merryn’s father sang to her at bedtime — stories that she thought were made up but discovers are actually true during her adventure. Listening to the voice of an Irish narrator, you are taken through the game: you learn the meaning behind each different setting, as well as tips for what to do next if, like me, you desperately need that kind of thing. (“The statue seems incomplete. I wonder if I could finish it somehow….”) They even turned the character’s “death” into part of the ongoing story by having Merryn say, when you start again, that she dreamed she died but had really just seen one of the many directions she could go.
I don’t care who thinks it’s cheesy, I love all of it and you can’t stop me.
The idea is to gather different items in each scene that you will need later to unlock puzzles. This encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of the different settings which, because the game is so lovely, is a pleasure to do. If I had one complaint about the game, it would be that some of the tasks you need to accomplish are extremely tricky. Now, this didn’t make a notable difference to me because every task in every game seems impossible to me, but my kids got frustrated after a while with some of them. And if they are frustrated, then it has to be pretty darn frustrating.
I can see how Song of the Deep might not do it for a wide swath of gamers, but if you’re into the aesthetics of a game and want a relaxing trip through an underground world which occasionally features tasks that will drive you insane, then this game is for you. Personally, I can’t wait to get back to my cuttlefish friend and swim through the anemone. That’s how I spend my Fridays, now.