It was way back in 2015 when we first heard of Submerged, as the original game delivered a third person explorative experience to all. It’s taken Uppercut Games some seven years to finalise the next chapter of this water-filled adventure, preparing to release Submerged: Hidden Depths onto the world.
Just prior to launch of the relaxploration title, we grabbed Ed Orman, one of the founders of Uppercut Games and game designer on Submerged, in order to find out more about the secrets of Hidden Depths.
Can you please introduce yourself, and your role in the development of Submerged: Hidden Depths?
G’day! I am Ed Orman, one of the founders of Uppercut Games here in Australia. On Submerged: Hidden Depths my role was largely game design.
It’s a slightly unusual genre of game. How would you pitch it to potential players?
If you’re looking for a game where you can take the time to just stop and appreciate beauty, where you get to explore an open world and unravel mysteries, then Submerged: Hidden Depths is the game for you!
You seem to have coined the term “relaxploration” with Submerged: Hidden Depths. Does that feel about right?
I have to give credit for the term “relaxploration” to @bajo (a tv presenter and game reviewer) for coining the phrase. But yes, it’s a terrific description – the point of the Submerged games is to give players a relaxing world to explore at their own pace, where there’s no failure and no threat.
The first Submerged game was released way back in 2015. What differences can players expect here compared to the first game?
There is a LOT more to do in Submerged: Hidden Depths. Much of the feedback on the original Submerged from people that liked the game was that they just wanted more to do in the world. So we’ve added more complexity and more interactions, while still retaining that relaxing environment.
Secondly, the world itself just looks amazing. We’ve learned a bunch over the last few years, and the power of our devices has increased massively, so we’re able to create much more detailed and beautiful environments.
Tell us a bit more about the journey for Submerged: Hidden Depths in going from Google Stadia exclusive to multi format release.
We really have to applaud the people at Stadia for this – when we first developed the game, it was always supposed to be an iron-clad Stadia exclusive, and frankly the game would not have been created without the backing of Stadia and the excellent people working there.
But we were thrilled when they approached us early last year and asked us if we wanted to be able to bring it to other platforms. Uppercut already had prior experience with consoles and PC, so it was a no-brainer for us to say yes!
Personally, I loved exploring in Submerged: Hidden Depths during my hands-on preview. What inspired the setting?
I was watching a video of a mod for GTA 3 or 4, and in it they changed the height of the ocean so it enveloped the city, leaving the taller buildings sticking up out of the waves. Combine that image with my obsession with post-apocalyptic fiction, and that’s how we arrived at Submerged.
Can you tell us a little more about what exactly awaits players in the world of Submerged: Hidden Depths
Players can boat, climb, solve and explore in the beautiful ruins of a sunken world. Each major building is a puzzle, littered with the remnants of villages that used to cling to the structure. You can gather diaries that tell the story of the past, dredge up relics from under the ocean, or even just pick flowers for your collection.
The soundtrack is just as relaxing as the game itself. How did you arrive at a sound that matches the overall feel of Submerged: Hidden Depths?
There are two main things that we want the audio in the game to reflect: nature and isolation. And we do that because they support the idea of relaxation. If you picture yourself on a tropical vacation, you’re thinking of the soothing sounds of the ocean, maybe some birds flying way overhead so you can just hear them, and the wind in the trees. But you’re also thinking of isolation in the good sense: no one around to intrude, no one else’s needs to meet. Just yourself.
Musically, Jeff Van Dyck has returned to do the score (and all the other audio) for Submerged: Hidden Depths, and he has a perfect understanding of what is needed to support that same goal. I still think Jeff’s score for the original Submerged was key to its success.
If you could choose one thing that you are most excited for players to experience in the game, what would it be?
The story of this new city; how it was settled and then abandoned – I’m very excited for players to start pulling the pieces of that mystery together.
How important do you think gaming experiences like Submerged: Hidden Depths are, given the last couple of years we’ve all endured?
I enjoy all kinds of games, but I’m thrilled that there is now a recognised appetite for the kind of tranquil experience that Submerged provides. And life can be difficult at the best of times, but the last few years have indeed been tough for a lot of people. So I hope Submerged: Hidden Depths can provide a moment of peace amongst all that turmoil.
As I say, exploring in Submerged: Hidden Depths is a joy. Which part of the world would you most like to explore, and why?
I’ve had visiting Machu Pichu on my list for decades but have never found time to actually go there. Partly because the mountains around it look gorgeous, but also I guess because it taps into that obsession I have with lost cultures, and the stories they can tell us.
And finally, are you able to give any little hint to what you and the team are working on next?
Sorry, we don’t have anything to announce right now 🙂
Huge thanks go out to Ed for giving us a little more insight into the, um, depth of Submerged: Hidden Depths.
You can find out more about the game by following the Uppercut Games team over on Twitter, by taking in our hands-on preview, or by holding tight for our full review of Submerged: Hidden Depths on Xbox Series X|S (it’ll be live before you know it).
Should you be sold, grab a download of the game on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (the Xbox Store link is here), PS4, PS5 or PC. It’s playable from March 10th 2022 and is fully optimised for the next-gen consoles of Xbox Series X|S.