Deep Ones is a super retro stylised platformer with multigenre parts heavily inspired by ZX Spectrum games and developed by Burp! Games. It is currently available on all the big formats, Nintendo Switch, Steam, PlayStation and the version we are testing today – Xbox One.
You play as Diver, the main protagonist of this story who is exploring the depths of the ocean when his submarine crashes. The great red octopus is the reason of this, his will of destroying every traveler that he encounters may seem unbeatable, but Diver isn’t exactly as simple as he looks. He is encouraged to walk along the bottom of the ocean, plunge into the depths of the darkest corners, to rip and tear through the thick plants of sea weed and fight with the most unknown creatures of the world that is beneath, just to get his submarine back in his command. On his path, he will witness many beautiful landscapes of the scenery and will acquire many trustworthy allies, all of which will also enrich his stories that will be worthy of telling about… That is, of course, if you’ll be able to help him survive and triumph over the evil.
The game stays true to its ZX Spectrum roots and unfortunately for Deep Ones makes it difficult going especially in a modern gaming environment. Controls are basic and very slow leaving Diver vulnerable to enemy attack from all angles. His move set is minimal consisting of an attack and jump, which can in itself be pretty challenging at times. Naturally the graphics and sound are fitting with theme that the developer has gone with and anyone who remembers this era will appreciate how it looks.
Where it does gain some credibility is in the variation of genres. A mix of platformer, shoot ’em up and racer are on offer which attempt to add a little variation. Boss battles can be fun but the poor controls make these harder than they need to be.
Deep Ones succeeds in providing a retro experience but at the cost of playability in our modern age. The story is short and can be finished within a couple of hours but that’s only if you manage to stick it out. I left disappointing after initially hoping that Deep Ones would be a rose-tinted look back at my first gaming experiences.