It’s quite surprising how grimly atmospheric it can be when you’re presented with a murky underwater scene in which your panicked breathing is the dominant sound. Add to this the constant whirring and rippling of the dimly-lit ocean-floor landscape and you’ve already got the setting for a fear-inducing video game. Depth takes this a few steps further however, introducing the unusual concept of asymmetrical multiplayer where the players are a team of 4 deep-sea treasure hunters on the one side and two ravenously hungry sharks on the other. It is dealer’s choice as to which team you choose to occupy, but the striking deep-sea atmosphere of unrelenting tension and intense, unwavering fear is just one of the many aspects of Depth which make it a game worth reviewing.
If you choose to be a diver, your only objectives are to collect treasure that is strewn across the ocean floor, protect your companion robot called S.T.E.V.E., and generally stay alive for as long as possible to carry out the aforementioned responsibilities. As well as starting the mission at the bottom of the sea, you also start from the lowest point in terms of weapons/gadgets as well. All you have is a basic pistol and a knife: you need to collect treasure to be able to afford better equipment.
Choose to play as a shark and your mission is a little simpler: kill the humans and stay alive. You will spawn at a point that is across the other side of the map to the divers’ starting point, giving them the chance to scramble to the (relative) safety of an enclosed space in the particular underwater wreck in which they are scrambling for treasure. When you reach the humans, it is best to adopt as a doctrine the classic phrase “only fools rush in” – you will soon learn that the shark dimension of the gameplay requires stealth if you’re going to stay alive for more than a few seconds.
Conceptually, the unique multiplayer gameplay of Depth is really the first of its kind. You need only play the game for a few minutes after selecting to assume the role of either a shark or one member of the human team to realise that this is the case. Similarities are found to games like Depth Hunter 2, but the asymmetrical gameplay of Depth and the incredibly intense, fear-inducing, and generally unfamiliar underwater environments are juxtaposed perfectly with highly familiar first-person shooter conventions
The aforementioned conventions make themselves known in the game’s combat system. Playing as a human, actions like movement and aiming are achieved in the same fashion as they would be in fellow underwater shooter Aquanox, or indeed any land-based shooting games. You use the mouse to aim and the left mouse button to shoot; movement is controlled with the directional arrows. The mechanics change slightly when you’re in the clutches of a shark’s mouth, which is when you must rapidly click the left mouse button to stab the shark before your rapidly-draining health hits zero.
Combat from the shark’s point of view is equally as simple yet the mechanics prescribe that you adhere to different tactics. The left mouse button is your primary, short-range attack and the right button is your long-range lunge. Once you’ve nabbed a human, you then have to rapidly shake the mouse to try and break the diver’s bones and deplete his health before he manages to stab your health away.
First-person shooter fanatics will be glad to learn that there is a wealth of equipment waiting to be purchased, including guns and other hardware. Your starting pistol can soon be replaced by more powerful pistols, harpoons, net guns, and other weapons of a more effective nature. There are also submersible propulsion devices and items such as tagging ammo and radar so that you can detect a shark’s presence early. Fanatics of the shark game genre will also be pleased to know that you also have a number of sharks to choose from including a Mako, Tiger, and even the mythical Megalodon if you choose to play in this mode.
Graphics and Sound
There’s no faulting the sound effects of Depth. From the realistic splashing, whirring, and bubbling sounds made by moving through and/or being killed in the water to the breath sounds, muffled screams of pain, and fear-inducing heartbeat sound that amplifies and accelerates according to the proximity of a shark, the sound is perfect. The graphics are also incredible, ensuring that the underwater environment is portrayed realistically: murky, unfamiliar, and claustrophobic from the human perspective; open, bright, and opportunity-filled if you’re playing as a shark. The latter Depth does better than any other shark game released including those dodgy official jaws games.
Intense In Every Way
In the end, games simply don’t get more intense than Depth. The multiplayer gameplay instils fear in its players and, though it can get a bit repetitive, maintains a constant level of tension through its use of sound effects and incredibly-designed underwater environments.
If you like shark games you might also be interested in our Shark Attack Deathmatch 2 Review