The recent years have probably been the golden years of indie gaming. A time when developers the world over started popping up in a bid to showcase their creative talents. Some to their acclaim. Others, less so, or worse. One to join the rank of these aspiring creatives is the one-person team, Cogwheel Software, behind the developing title, Hidden Deep-a '2D exploration & sci-fi thriller' video game that took some six-long years to make. Developed by veteran Polish indie game developer Lukasz Kaluski, Hidden Deep took inspiration from 'classic Sci-Fi games' and various 'movies of the 80's and 90's', like Aliens, The Thing, etc.
But is this project worthy of its extensive development or is it just one of those epic failures, bound to be buried underneath thousands of others and be long forgotten in eternity?
So, yeah, that question might be too much of a stretch for a title that did not promise anything, aside from the fact that it took several years to make and is developing still, as we speak. But looking at it on the surface, Hidden Deep is not that bad. It might take a strong appreciation to gaming, but it is actually as fun a game as it gets for a title of its kind. I even only wished this game would have been developed sooner rather than later and was made playable earlier than now, all things considered. But do not get me wrong, the game is still amusing to this day, albeit with some caveats in places.
At the premise, Hidden Deep is a game that takes place '1.5km under the ocean floor' and involves a group of researchers who are tasked to explore the somewhat claustrophobic region after finding out 'some strange anomalies of unknown nature' in the area. But as contact with said researchers suddenly ceased after 564 days, a second team was deployed to find out what happened. Players, therefore, take on the role of not just one character, but a multitude of them throughout the game, and is basically the entire second group working in tandem to solve the mystery of the place. As far as substance goes, it is an interesting take on an iconic genre.
Visually, the game may not employ the best of graphic design, even for a 2D title. It looks pretty basic, and some may argue as somewhat bland and lacking. However, for the most part, this seems to be an issue that only affects those who are expecting some next-gen-quality visuals, which the game clearly is not. Every real gamer knows, however, that graphics alone do not justify a good game as there can also be those aesthetically-pleasing titles that are not necessarily fun games. Beautiful, sure; but fun, not really.
Control-wise, the game is not what I would regard as smooth. It tends to have some degree of awkwardness to it, especially with a pair of a mouse and keyboard as control, which, as of its current version, is the only way the game can be played. I especially find it quite clunky in movement, particularly when descending to a lower elevation and using the grappling hook to reach a higher place. God knows how many times I've died just experimenting with what works best in many instances that require such actions early in the game. But to its props, and its caveat, I especially love to aim and shoot guns in this game with a white dot as a cursor to every shot; although I'd wished the character inclines to adjust its body position relative to the aiming.
On the sound department, there's nothing particularly ground-breaking about the game. But for what it is worth, the ambiance feels eerie enough and the special effects, such as when shooting, feel functional enough to be engaging and not off-putting. Additionally, the dubbing could be a little less cryptic-sounding, but this is largely nitpicking.
However, if there is one thing perhaps that I truly like about Hidden Deep, it is in how dynamic the experience can be because of the many elements that interplay in it. Mostly, due to the physics that give life to the game's world, relative to player actions. Also, this is not to mention the many surprises that await that the player must either adapt fast enough to survive or learn earlier on to overcome them the second time around.
At the end of the day, Hidden Deep is a developing title being made by a single man. But while it will not necessarily win any major awards, anyone with genuine admiration for gaming will admit how precious this work-in-progress title is for its becoming. It is already a fun game, despite being an early release. I can only imagine how better it would be when it gets additional polish.