Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
Category: Adventure, Education, Simulation, Sports
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: March, 16th, 2020 (Worldwide)
Price: $19.99 USD
Polish video game developer Jujubee developed and published Deep Diving Simulator for Steam back in May 2019. The game received a Deep Diving Adventure DLC pack that added two new stages. A VR version of Deep Diving Simulator also released in September 2019 for Steam.
The game received mixed reviews on Steam from many people enjoying and recommending the game to others that felt that the visuals and gameplay were lacking. Still, this didn’t stop Jujubee from bringing the game to Nintendo Switch as Deep Diving Adventures, combining the base game with the Adventure pack DLC into one package.
The story of Deep Diving Adventures follows an unnamed protagonist who is a Scuba Diver in the employ of Professor Adams. The professor tasks you with exploring dive sites around the world and collect any treasures that you encounter. You will come face to face with many types of marine life both large and small like the dainty sea horses and magnificent great whales.
As you adventure around the “world” from the Coral Reefs to the Kelp Forests and Ice Tundra, you will find mysterious artifacts that will lead you to the discovery of the long lost mythical places like Atlantis and the Temple of Horus.
There really isn’t much more to it than that. Deep Diving Adventures is not exactly “story-heavy” and is mostly focused on exploration and diving simulation. It serves primarily as a basis to move the game along from dive site to dive site.
Deep Diving Adventures is a first-person diving simulator that is based on the practices of modern SCUBA Diving. The 12 different dive sites featured in the game serve as stages or levels. When you begin playing, only one dive site is available and acts as a tutorial of sorts to help players learn the basics of the game. After completing the tutorial, you will gain access to the next dive site and from there; you will have to fulfill certain objectives in order to unlock the next dive site and the next and so on.
The gameplay itself is not dissimilar to flying simulator games. The left joystick controls movement and the right joystick controls camera position so you can see your surroundings. The L and R buttons control your descent and ascent but only when you are not holding anything. Should you be holding the healing gun (more on that in a bit) or a knife (more on that too, later) then the A and B buttons substitute L and R for descent and ascent.
As you move around in the water, you can sometimes roll over. You can use the ZL and ZR buttons to correct this as the ZL button will roll you counter-clockwise (to the left) and the ZR button will roll you clockwise (to the right). When hazards like rocks, surfaces, dangerous creatures like Sea Urchins, Eels, or Sharks hurt you, you can sometimes lose your orientation and you will need to be ready with the roll buttons in order to correct yourself otherwise you could make yourself dizzy in real life. No joke, it has happened to me a few times.
I spoke earlier about the Healing Gun. This handy tool is used to heal sick animals. It also has a single charge function that can disintegrate fishing nets, certain debris or ward off aggressive sharks and orcas. It take time to charge up for function and the left and right directional buttons can select between the two. The R button is used to fire the Healing Gun when it is being used.
Part of your dive kit as a diver is a knife. This tool has only one use and that is to keep sharks and other Apex predators at bay. The Healing Gun’s charge shot can take time to load up and if you miss hitting a shark when it is swimming right for you, it will attack you. The knife, on the other hand, can be used to keep the shark at bay when swung at the right time as it nears you. Should a shark hit you, it can cost you 100-150 seconds of Air Time, which is something you really cannot afford to lose whilst diving.
Speaking of Air Time, it is your lifeline whilst diving. Air Time is both your stamina and health gauge and it depletes over time. Bumping into environmental hazards like walls, overhead ceilings, or rocks can take a few precious seconds off your Air Time. Getting into altercations with aggressive marine life like the previously mentioned sharks, moray eels, rays, and Jellyfish will put a significant dent in your Air Time and can leave you very little to make it back to the surface, if at all.
To end a successful dive, you will need to return to the surface safely with air remaining. Should you fail to do so, you will have to start the dive all over again. You will lose any objects you have found and any fish you have healed will revert to being sick. You can extend your Air Time by finding and collecting objects, mining minerals and healing fish. You will earn 8 seconds to your time for each action and mining can be done five times in the same spot, which will net you a total of 40 seconds.
Finding objects like treasure, seashells, and trash is one thing, collecting it is another. You have to get into the right position and wait for a prompt to appear in order to collect it. You will need to hold the A button down long enough for a bar around the prompt to fill up so you can collect the object. Some objects can be picked up rather quickly. Large objects like treasure boxes or trash bags take a lot longer and with your diver constantly moving about, you may find yourself trying multiple times to pick up the blasted item.
Each dive site has its own environment setting along with its established ecosystem m. There are hazards to be aware of and plenty of secrets to be found. While not exactly “Open-World” the dive sites are quite large and are broken into multiple areas. Each area has a number of objects to find, mineral spots to mine, and/or marine life to heal. It isn’t mandatory to complete every area but to unlock some dive sites, you have to achieve at least 50% completion rate in order to progress forward in the game.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
Deep Diving Adventures features an RPG element in the form of a leveling up system. By collecting objects and healing fish, you can earn XP. At the end of the dive, your collected XP will be tallied and if you level up, you can unlock rewards like longer air time, the ability to dive deeper, a longer-lasting flashlight, etc. There are no skill trees in sight so you don’t have to worry about picking and choosing perks.
As well as the simple RPG elements, some Dive Sites have areas that require you to solve puzzles before you can enter them. The puzzles can be a sliding puzzle or hitting the gongs in sequence with your healing gun. These will open up sealed doors that will permit you to enter sacred temples or rooms that haven’t been open in millennia.
For anyone who beats the game, they can unlock New Game Plus. This mode will allow the player to start the game all over again without resetting their current level and all previous, acquired perks will be maintained. On the other side of the spectrum, all the objects will have been returned as well as all the fish you healed before will need to be healed again.
While the game may only have 12 dive sites to explore, they are vast enough and varied to warrant conducting multiple dives to the same site, Each environment differs from the other and includes their own set of hazards and wonders. The Kelp Forests hide tanks and military helicopters that have met a watery fate. The Underwater temples and the Shipwrecks also help to keep the inquisitive diver coming back again and again.
From the Pause menu, you can adjust the gameplay with a couple of options. The Hazards option allows you to choose between All Hazards or Static. All Hazards is the standard game mode that will have any aggressive animals try to take a chunk out of you. Static on the other hand means that you will only take damage by bumping into things.
The Spectator Mode clears the screen of the HUD and gives you free rein to move wherever you like without the worry of taking damage from bumping into things or having your air time diminish. You won’t be able to interact with objects though, and if you quit Spectator Mode, you will return to where you activated it in the first place.
During gameplay, you will unlock other features that will come in handy on your dives. From the very first dive, you will find a scanner that when used, will ping across your local vicinity to find ill fish, items, minerals and hazards. It will only last for a short while but when it has recharged, you can use it again.
Eventually, you will also obtain an R.O.V and explosives that will help with further exploration of Dive Sites. The R.O.V (Remote Operated Vehicle) can worm its way through narrow openings and investigate hidden areas. It can pick up objects and mine just like you can normally but you must be observant of your own air supply as it will still diminish while the R.O.V is in use.
The explosives are used on certain piles of rubble that blocks access from one area to the other. It is sometimes necessary to use explosives in the game as it could open up the only way you can get into the new area. Players must swim back to a safe distance though otherwise, they can hurt themselves in the blast radius.
Deep Sea Adventures doesn’t have the best music soundtrack and it is relatively unmemorable. In fact, for the most part, I had actually had the music muted in the settings just so I listen to the sound effects instead. As a professional Scuba Diver myself, having the music turned off helped make the game seem more authentic to me.
Voice acting is supported for Professor Adams and the female narrator who explains each of the dive sites. The narrator is very informative and is interesting to listen to. Professor Adams is also an interesting character but has some character quirks that I couldn’t really connect with. His “Dad Joke” humor is reasonably charming but sometimes Adams sounds lacking in genuine concern as the later dives really start to risk your safety.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
Deep Diving Adventures has some reasonably lifelike visuals. Most marine creatures that you encounter are based on their real-life counterparts and actually look pretty nice. The large animal models, however, lack some real-life likeness (the sharks for example) but I suppose the game would be 10 times more terrifying if the sharks looked too real, racing towards you with their pearly whites ready to tear you to pieces.
The particle effect is a nice touch that you notice more when you turn your torch on. Some underwater regions around the world have more particles floating around than in others. Seeing it implemented in the game does help make things feel that much more authentic.
I found the performance of Deep Diving Adventures to be quite solid. There are load times between getting into the water and returning to the boat. When diving though, the map seems to be generated procedurally but due to the limited visibility, you hardly notice it is happening. There are some minor issues with the game taking several moments to access the pause menu when you press the pause button but I didn’t notice any game-breaking bugs during my playthrough.
This review for Deep Diving Adventures is long past due. I didn’t pick it up when it first release on Switch as its launch flew under my radar. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government-issued quarantine forced me to broaden my horizons with some games and look for virtual alternatives to my real-life hobbies.
Well, to call Scuba Diving a hobby of mine is not exactly true. It has been a passion of mine pretty much all my life. I took up the sport when I was 16 and became a diving professional at 18. It love everything about the sea and oceans and I do enjoy playing games that allow me to keep up my diving adventures when I can’t get in the water.
Deep Diving Adventures is an interesting enough game for those looking for a casual simulation game. There are quite a few things the game does right and some stuff that I don’t really agree with. In the game, it is easy enough to lose your orientation and it is true in actual diving as well, especially in less experienced divers. Loss of orientation can cause you to become dizzy with vertigo and watching the screen spinning around will induce a similar reaction as well.
I didn’t like the gun mechanic at first as shooting at fish it didn’t sit right with me (nor does shooting at any animal) but it grew on me as I used it to heal the sick marine life. The other thing I wasn’t very happy with is the game’s obsession with literally collecting every little thing you can get your hands on. Picking up trash and man-made objects is one thing but collecting shells and animals is something that is frowned upon in the diving community. We have a saying that goes “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but bubbles”.
The Air Time mechanic works reasonably well to gauge how much time you have in the water but it has been simplified for the sake of the game. As you dive deeper IRL you breathe in more air, consuming your supply quicker than if you were closer to the surface. Collecting objects to help replenish air is not realistic at all and though it may buy you extra time in the game, it teaches the wrong lesson when it comes to real-life scuba diving.
Even though the diving and exploration part of the game is the main focus, I would have liked to be able to move freely when on the boat. Between dives, you are taken to a screen with the bow of your boat pointing at the direction of the dive site you wish to visit. The design is nice enough but it isn’t anything more than a fancy menu screen. Even the loading screens could do have been more proactive with the boat actually traveling towards the dive site as opposed to a still image and a loading bar.
The shark AI can be incredibly annoying at times. You can be minding your own business and then out of nowhere, you will hear a change in the music tone, and out of nowhere, the shark will make a beeline for you. Shooting them will keep them at bay for a little while but soon they will come for you again and again until you leave their stalking zone completely. It is an unrealistic personality made up for the game to create a kind of danger. It is extremely unlikely that a shark will attack you repeatedly, simply because you’re there.
I could go on with my pet qualms of what should and shouldn’t be with this game but at the end of the day, Deep Diving Simulator is just a casual exploration game. It has its techniques for creating danger and harm and puzzles to solve to make it more interesting. It does set out to do what it intended even with some of the more fantastical elements that keep the game from being too lifelike.
Deep Diving Simulator is a quaint and casual simulation game that combines fetch quests with combinations. The game can be a pleasant enough experience but it is no substitute for the real thing.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*The game was purchased digitally for the purposes of this review
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