It’s a future, I’m sure, that we have all considered at some point. What if due to global warming, or some other catastrophe, the world became overwhelmed by flooding and for those who survived, life fundamentally changed forever? Fear not, as although it seems the year 2020 could deliver this without breaking sweat, it’s just the setting of Depth of Extinction – Definitive Edition.
Humanity is fractured after such flooding, and to make matters worse killer machines are hunting down and eliminating the last of mankind. It falls to you to assemble a team of defenders, and bring hope to a bleak world.
Depth of Extinction was originally released on PC, nearly two years ago. However, as so many titles before it, the Definitive Edition has made its way over to consoles, including the Xbox One. In this new release (hence the Definitive Edition tag), there are new enemies, maps, a new character class to play as and new tactical options such as stealth moves and ambushes. That’s not a huge amount of extras you may argue, but then it’s only £12.49 on the Microsoft Store.
The game is fairly complex all in all, but suffers somewhat due to the choice of visual style. The map (opened by pressing up on the D-Pad), for example, looks absolutely hideous. It’s clear enough in terms of figuring out what is what, thanks to brightly coloured squares, but it’s strictly practical. Otherwise the game looks average: there’s nothing much more I can say on that really. It does have a decent soundtrack however, and you’ll often be reminded which piece of music is playing when accompanied by a little sound icon.
The Definitive Edition of Depth of Extinction is a turn-based RPG with roguelike elements (similar to a dungeon crawler). It’s played across two fronts, combat and exploration. The first mission, or objective, is a tutorial to get you familiar with the game’s turn-based combat, and it is here where you’ll learn how to navigate your environment, fend off enemies and secure valuable loot.
Each of your squad members get two actions per turn, but some combat actions will end that turn immediately. Otherwise, moving is done via point and click, firstly in the highlighted green area, and then again in the orange. You can move to certain areas of the combat grid which offer shielding, such as behind walls and other obstacles. Enemies make constant use of these too though, and the combat can feel very cat and mouse, with you being unable to do significant damage whilst they are in cover, and vice versa.
However, when you eventually line up a shot, just beforehand you will see the likely impact on your target, and you can keep track of how much health they have left before you take them down permanently. There are plenty of different weapons of varying strengths (tiers) to collect, along with other items such as armour and money.
This, quite nicely, brings us to the loot which can be found hidden throughout the world; loot containers are highlighted with a yellow frame. Enemies will also drop items, so you’ll want to plan your moves carefully so you can scoop it all up.
There is also a “follow mode”, where you can elect to just control a lead member of the party, and the others will automatically follow to speed the action up a bit. You can also adapt the characteristics of the other party members, for example choosing how offensively they behave.
In Depth of Extinction your enemies have a purple ring around them to show their line of sight. Of course, as soon as you enter that circle your presence will alert them, and kick off combat. You’ll have to move with caution, as fog of war is at play here, meaning the same rules apply to your visible area. Who knows what is lurking just out of sight, in the darkness? There is an alert level in the top right corner of your HUD, which essentially just shows if you are in combat or not.
Once you’ve succeeded, you can then level up and equip your party with any loot you’ve found on your mission. This opens up all sorts of avenues, and is where the RPG elements really come into play. There are 115 items to collect in all, and ten character classes to unlock. It has to be said that there are plenty of combinations to keep you busy.
You can view the in-game menu by hitting either the view or menu buttons on your Xbox controller, and in here you can see your mission details, get help, fiddle with options, view your saved games and scroll through the enemies you have encountered. However, I have found the help option to be pretty redundant, as it’s always obvious what needs doing in Depth of Extinction and instead it’s the challenging combat you may well struggle with. Primarily, the menu is a good way to keep track of your loot, and document how many of the 30+ enemy varieties you have faced off against.
In between combat, there’s a whole world to explore. The exploration element of the game is set out in a world map fashion, where you need to reach the exit in a certain amount of moves, passing through varying obstacles along the way. You’ll pass through some without incident, while others will earn you rewards, but a few will contain enemy forces which you can choose to do battle with (thus entering the combat phase). You’ll have to be wary of your fuel levels too, as your submarine will guzzle fuel up as it moves to each area. Your route is a branching one with different choices available along the way which, if nothing else, offers some replay value.
You can get from one end of the map to another without fighting a single enemy, however you risk running out of fuel, as well as your sub taking damage in other ways. Also, when you reach your mission objective, you’ll have a significantly weaker and ill-equipped team to deal with the task at hand. If you die, it’s back to the start of the mission and potentially hours of progress thrown down the drain, the only saving grace being you get to keep hold of your loot. There’s no way around it, Depth of Extinction needs to be played properly or you’ll find it pretty much impossible to progress.
Put simply, this game is an acquired taste; that being a slow, strategic one all about marginal gains. It’s fair to point out it does a solid job of this, and fans of the genre will find plenty to enjoy, however this is not one for the impatient amongst you. If you’re looking for shortcuts and not chomping at the bit to engage in every combat opportunity as well as go hunting for loot, this one probably isn’t for you.
Depth of Extinction on Xbox One is a straight up, old-school turn-based RPG that is squarely aimed at fans of the genre. There’s nothing else to be tempted by here, but what is on offer is a solid dose of strategy action for those with enough patience to stick it out.