by Fitri Razif in
Reviews

Platform(s): PC (version reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre: 2D side-scrolling survival horror shooter in caves

Hidden Deep has all the pretty bells and whistles that would’ve blown my mind if it was a flash game that came out 10 years ago, when flash games were my only access to games at the time. Despite that, a lack of depth in its content and its unnecessary need to constantly punish the player makes for a frustrating experience and a game as hollow as the caves you’ll explore.

The 2D side-scrolling survival horror shooter puts you in the boots of a faceless army grunt tasked with finding survivors in an underground facility and fixing what needs to be fixed along the way as you descend into deeper levels.

Knees of Glass

Playing the game feels like a really fleshed out flash game from my youth. The player movement feels very weighty, playing very similarly to the OG classic Prince of Persia, you press down to drop down ledges safely, you need to run to start a jump, which feels very deliberate as your character is literally the most fragile thing in the world. Fall damage leads to an instant death and what makes it worse is that fall damage can be very inconsistent. I died to falls I usually survived before, which led to me playing really timidly, as you’re only given a set amount of lives and if you run out, that’s a whole restart.

Honestly, most of my deaths were due to falls or the environment in some way so be prepared to die, constantly. The game feels difficult but not in a smart way, as if it tries to be hard for the sake of being hard.

Grappling Hook!

This brings us to how the game wants you to traverse its caverns, with a freaking grappling hook! Let me tell you something, grappling hooks in any medium will always rock and this one is no different. I spent a big chunk of my playtime just fiddling around with it and it feels great to use. It’s also surprisingly versatile by allowing you to swing, shoot across to use as a zipline, and you can even use it to lure enemies with the sound.

It doesn’t leave you vulnerable either as you can pull out your gun at any time using it. Just don’t expect it to fix the previous issues, as swinging too hard against a surface is a sure (but entertaining!) death.

Zipping down into a cavern just feels right.

Hidden, But Not Deep

Starting the game, it has this atmosphere that just hooks you in, right from the menu screen. It’s ominous and the derelict tunnels will definitely make you hesitate to take another step. However, the novelty dies off pretty fast when you realize the enemies are underwhelming. Enemy variety or lack thereof in this game consists of zombie flies, crawling worms and some red spiders that appear after three levels. There’s also a ceiling worm that grabs you from above all Tremors style, which is often a cheap death that makes you “learn” and be warier to move forward, but hey it’s still cheap.

I wouldn’t describe this as a Metroidvania as although exploration is an option, the multiple paths you can opt to take don’t really have anything at the end of them making sidetracking rather pointless. The game is segmented into different missions, with each one having a distinct gimmick such as using bombs to go deeper in Spelunky fashion or having to control a whole team and operate a giant crane, which made for a cool change of pace.

Friendly fire is a thing, I checked so you don’t have to.

Since the game is currently still in early access, I’ll refrain from giving it a score but as it is, even a great grappling hook is not enough for the shallow experience Hidden Deep has to offer. A lack of enemy variety and reasons to explore set the game up for a mind-numbing time, as well as the hard but unfair philosophy just adds more wood to the bland fire.

Pros

  • Atmosphere pulls you in… for a while.
  • Fun and versatile grappling hook.

Cons

  • Punishing and unfair most of the time.
  • Lack of enemy variety.
  • Exploring is pointless.

Hidden Deep is currently in Early Access right now.

Fitri is a writer and video producer who prays everyday for a Bloodborne sequel.
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