A puddle cannot substitute for an ocean
Deep Ones is a single-player retro arcade-platformer that, ironically enough, doesn’t have that much depth to it. The main aspect that stands out about it is that its overall design is inspired by the ZX Spectrum. The design neatly complements the idea that the developers had when designing the game, but everything else about it ends up extremely lacking.
In Deep Ones, you play as diver named Diver who is exploring the depths of the ocean in his submarine. As he’s trekking through the ocean, the submarine gets covered in seaweed causing it to stop moving. Diver exits to clean off the seaweed, but unbeknownst to our aquatic amigo, a lurking octopus attacks the submarine. Diver quickly escapes, but the fiend has taken his submarine. Once he reaches the seabed, he begins his long journey to defeat the red menace and get his submarine back.
The main aspect that hurt me the most (both in-game and emotionally) is how poor the overall movement is. Diver’s movements are all so slow that just about every enemy he faces is able to easily catch up to him. Also, his jump is significantly weak for a platformer. It gives the player very little height and distance.
Other than the movement, the player’s attack options are undependable. The player is given two different types of weapons: a harpoon handgun and a sword. However, the sword is limited to only being used in certain areas, so for most of the game, you’ll be using the harpoon handgun. The handgun is very strange to use. Typically in games, being able to shoot in mid-air is not a foreign concept, but for whatever reason, when you try to shoot in mid-air, Diver will do the shooting animation, but won’t actually shoot the harpoon until he reaches the ground. The most bizzare part of the handgun is that you can’t shoot while moving and you can’t aim your shot anywhere else but in front of you.
Deep Ones also possess some strange bugs/glitches that can prevent the player from progressing. One of the more common, but minor glitches is how Diver will get caught on the walls quite easily. When performing a jump into a wall, there is a high chance that he will slightly clip through the wall immobilizing him until the player stops moving him. There are also numerous moments where enemies and platforms will either disappear from the screen and sometimes reappear once the player gets gets close or enemies will get stuck on simple platforms incapacitating them making some boss fights incredibly easy. Furthermore, some locked doors were most likely meant to be opened after the player acquired a key, but this never occurred and they stayed locked until my save was reloaded (I assume there was a problem with the cutscene as the final key I collected triggered a cutscene of the final locked door being opened).
The game also feels like it's starting to have a midlife crisis as it feels like it now wants to become a bullet hell game and racing game while still being a platformer. Once you reach the second boss of the game, they start introducing bullet hell elements into the game (which with your poor movement is a dastardly duo). Had it only been for a boss fight, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but this theme continues on into the overworld, two boss fights, and a minigame. I wouldn’t mind this change if it was advertised as a platformer and bullet hell game rather than a simple platformer. Even so, the most of the bullet hell moments didn’t even provide much of a challenge to the overall game as there was almost always some sort of exploitable safe spot that the player could wait in until they were able to attack which completely defeats the purpose of a bullet hell game. On the other hand, the racing elements that it brought to the game were actually kind of fun for the most part, but this element is underused and, similar to the bullet hell moments, distorts the identity of the game from being a platformer to now being a racing game.
To top all of this off, the game is astonishingly short for how much it was said to do. It’s no longer than two hours and left me unsatisfied as I felt there was so much potential for it and it could have done so much more to make a creative and interesting game and story, but in the end, it was an absolute disaster, marred by bad movement, bad platforming, and a jumble of ideas.