We’d argue that you can lump simulators into three different pots. There are the sims that love to present you with an exact replica of the job they’re trying to simulate. Most of the game screen is cockpit, and you’re probably spending £500 on an authentic joystick. Then there are the sims that stretch the truth in an effort to make a joyful game loop. Lawn Mowing Simulator is a good example: it does a decent job of conveying the serenity of a ride-on mower, but we don’t imagine that everyone’s lawn is a county wildlife site, nor is it a job that will snag you millions. 

The final lot of simulators are the liars; the outright fabrications. Surgeon Simulator and Goat Simulator are the best known and most egregious, but there are others. There’s not a whisper of truth in any of them.

You may be wondering where Deep Diving Adventures falls. The answer is, perhaps surprisingly, the third pot. This isn’t quite as silly as Surgeon Simulator and the rest, but we’d be extremely surprised if it’s even remotely analogous to real deep diving. We imagine there are people playing Deep Diving Adventures with their snorkels and wetsuits on, shaking their heads in disappointment. 

deep diving adventures review 1

Deep Diving Adventures imagines that there are two reasons you would go diving. The first, of course, is to find and collect treasure. But this isn’t surveying the wreck of the Titanic like James Cameron for historical information and the occasional steel knife. This is a version of treasure hunting that seems like it’s been imagined by a five-year old. 

The main treasures you find in Deep Diving Adventures are seashells and starfish. Maybe the odd urn. But mostly shells. Our kids do the same thing when on holiday: they’ll come back from the sea saying they ‘found treasure’, and proceed to dump tons of seaweed and a dead jellyfish on our towel. It’s not exactly Tomb Raider.

But, occasionally, things do go into Lara Croft territory. When you’re not collecting conches, you’re coming across ridiculous and pristine trinkets that have been barely hidden in the most shallow of pools. Gold skulls, treasure chests and priceless artefacts offer themselves up to you. There’s something endearing about how the treasure in Deep Diving Adventures plucks from the extremes and never inbetween: either you’re finding rubbish on the seafloor, or you’re coming across the Lost Treasure of the Sierra Madre. 

There’s a determination to cast you as a soggy Indiana Jones, too, as ill-advised puzzles emerge out of the blue. Want to enter a lost tomb? Well, you’re going to have to turn some statues by shooting them with an underwater air gun. These puzzles stand out like a sore thumb, mainly because Deep Diving Adventures wants to have its cake and eat it: it wants to pretend it’s a diving simulator while confounding that aim with mazes and puzzles that are ripped from an adventure game. 

deep diving adventures review 2

We mentioned earlier that Deep Diving Simulator thinks there are two reasons to go diving. We’ve told you the first already – that, clearly, you want to be plundering the depths – but the second is perhaps more bizarre. It imagines that you want to be cleaning fish. 

In Deep Diving Adventures’ many levels, there are dozens of fish that have rolled about in some mud and need a scrub. Except, you can’t really spot the fish that are mucky, so you have to send a sonar pulse that turns certain fish green. Then, you’re whacking out a medical pistol, and firing it at fish until – BANG – the dirt is gone. 

Now, we had several fantasies going into Deep Diving Adventures. We imagined swimming in underwater caves, identifying marine animals, uncovering moments in history and perhaps, just perhaps, finding long lost treasures. What we didn’t expect was to be buffing fish to a sheen. It’s not something that particularly floated our boat.

And so it proves to be with Deep Diving Adventures. An entire half of the game has the misguided but noble aim of cleaning fish, and that half is neither interesting or fun. Part of the problem is that the fish are so incredibly hard to spot. Treasures can be seen glistening from half a lagoon away, but with the soiled fish, you have to ping the sonar and hope that a fish flashes long enough for you to see it. When you’re hunting for the last few fish on a level – which you will have to, since their XP is invaluable for progression – then it becomes as fun as, well, cleaning fish in real life. 

deep diving adventures review 3

If the sonar was more expansive, its effects more permanent, then matters might have been easier. But Deep Diving Adventure falls foul of ‘progressionitis’. It holds back the best upgrades until you’ve gained the XP and levels to unlock them, but it means that the early moments of the game are truly horrible. You are slow, accelerating at roughly the speed of me getting out of bed at 6am. Your sonar is the size of a postage stamp, and you keep coming across areas that can’t be unlocked until a Metroidvania-like ability has been presented to you. The early game of Deep Diving Adventure is hopelessly un-fun. 

Where the lack of fun and lack of realism most clearly intersect is with the inclusion of hazards. Now, fair play to Deep Diving Adventures, it’s possible to hop into the Options screen and turn these off, but, by default, they are activated. What this means is that while you are gliding blissfully through surprisingly well-realised environments, you occasionally get attacked by hammerhead sharks, stingrays and moray eels. 

Now, we’re going to go out on a limb and say that this isn’t realistic. Marine biologists are probably fuming about the bad press Deep Diving Adventures is giving to endangered animals. But, even more importantly, it feels terrible. The Jaws soundtrack plays, and moments later you’re getting swiped by a predator, which knocks whole minutes off your diving time (unnecessarily, Deep Diving Adventure limits you to an amount of time in the level). Your counter to this is a pistol which tazes the creature and gives you some valuable time. But this is a game with 360 degree fields of view: spotting the great white shark before it flosses with your innards is extremely difficult. We couldn’t turn the option off fast enough. 

And excuse us for a moment, because we need to offload our biggest frustration. It may not hurt other people as much as it did us, but – by golly – did we hate it. If you fail to emerge from the water before your timer elapses, ALL of your finds and progress get rolled back. Now, imagine that you’ve racked up hundreds of finds in a twenty minute dive, and then you get locked in a labyrinth where a) you can’t find the exit, or b) the exit simply won’t work because of a game-breaking bug. Not since playing FIFA with mates have we wanted to plunge a controller into the back of our telly more. 

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You can probably sense a rising bile, a vitriol for Deep Diving Adventures, mainly because we deeply care and wanted it to be good. It is wholesomely pretty. There are vistas and expanses that are genuinely a joy to find and explore. Spotting and gathering treasures will never get old, no matter how ludicrous they are. And there’s enough in its progression systems to make us hanker for exhausting each of the game’s regions.

But Deep Diving Adventures keeps tripping over its own flippers. For all the treasure hunting that we enjoyed, there was an equal amount of fish-polishing that we despised with every fibre of our being. For every moment of serenity, there was a hammerhead shark looking to gatecrash it. And while there are satisfying level ups, you have to slowly, interminably swim through sludge to get there. 

Deep Diving Adventures is nothing like real diving. It’s a floating contradiction: somehow, it manages to be both ludicrously fascinating and uncomfortably boring. 

You can buy Deep Diving Adventures from the Xbox Store

We’d argue that you can lump simulators into three different pots. There are the sims that love to present you with an exact replica of the job they’re trying to simulate. Most of the game screen is cockpit, and you’re probably spending £500 on an authentic joystick. Then there are the sims that stretch the truth in an effort to make a joyful game loop. Lawn Mowing Simulator is a good example: it does a decent job of conveying the serenity of a ride-on mower, but we don’t imagine that everyone’s lawn is a county wildlife site, nor is it…

Pros:

  • Treasure-hunting never gets old
  • Environments are fun to uncover and explore
  • The progression grabs you

Cons:

  • The early moments are interminably dull
  • Cleaning fish just isn’t our idea of fun
  • Predators and mazes are the devil’s work

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Jujubee
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 17 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £16.74
TXH Score

3/5

Pros:

  • Treasure-hunting never gets old
  • Environments are fun to uncover and explore
  • The progression grabs you

Cons:

  • The early moments are interminably dull
  • Cleaning fish just isn’t our idea of fun
  • Predators and mazes are the devil’s work

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Jujubee
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 17 June 2022
  • Launch price from - £16.74

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