Submerged review for Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Publisher: Uppercut Games
Developer: Uppercut Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

It’s been about half a decade since I last gave any thought to Submerged. I played it — and apparently loved it — back when it first came out on Xbox, but I’d be lying if I said I remembered it in much detail. Before playing it again on the Switch on its re-release, I could have told you I had vague memories of boating around some kind of flooded, post-apocalyptic city and exploring crumbling buildings, but I would have been at a loss to say anything further.

Turns out, that’s because there really wasn’t — and isn’t — much more to Submerged. You really are just navigating your boat around the crumbling, flooded remnants of a city, looking for items to scavenge to help your brother and improve your boat. There’s nothing in the way of combat, and even though you’re parkour-ing around huge buildings that look like they could fall to pieces any second, your exploration never leaves you in any kind of peril since you can’t actually fall from anywhere.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, to be sure. There’s a lot to be said for the simple joys of exploring ruins, and even if Submerged’s city is a little empty, you occasionally stumble across some cool things — a pod of whales here, an old statue there. It’s also undeniably satisfying to slowly fill out the map.

But taken as a whole, the whole experience feels kind of empty. Despite taking place in a semi-open world, Submerged is mostly linear; you can stumble across artifacts of the old civilization and the odd boat motor all you want, but in general the game directs you to find one specific material after another. Add in the general lack of danger that stems from no combat, no enemies, and no chance of failing in your exploring, and you can see why the game feels kind of lightweight.

On top of that, the game isn’t nearly as nice to look at on the Switch as I remember it being on Xbox. I’ll attribute some of this to the fact that I only played the game in handheld mode (along with a hefty dose of nostalgia making the game better-looking in my memory than in reality), but even making allowances for that, Submerged isn’t nearly pretty enough to hold up as a game that’s about exploration first and foremost.

Again, that’s not to say that Submerged is a bad game. In fact, if you’re looking for a game that’s low-stress, it may be right up your alley. But if you want a game that’s even remotely challenging, be aware that Submerged isn’t it.

Uppercut Games provided us with a Submerged Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B