Screen shot 2010-01-07 at 7.55.34 PMWith the release of Shadow Complex on Xbox Live Arcade last August the genre created (and in the opinion of some, perfected) by Nintendo's Metroid series was revived. In the wake of that game's success, 3G Studios brings us The Deep [App Store], a Metroid-inspired game with a twist; players are thrust into the wet suit of a scuba diver exploring the depths of the oceans.

The Deep opens with the tale of a vacationing scuba diver on a tropical island. Some guy who is permanently stuck in the Captain Morgan pose briefs players with a text-based tutorial, and the scuba diver (who you'll come to find is quite sarcastic) is driven towards a local store where an eccentric store owner awaits with the first quest. Thus begins a pattern that will become quite familiar to players as they progress; there are three different islands in The Deep, and each one contains a single villager and a very unique shop owner, each of whom tout some very strange demands in quest form.

thedeep2

After accepting a quest, players can leave an island and drop out to a large map, where all of the levels that have been unlocked are selectable. Upon selecting a level, the actual gameplay starts and the exploration, light puzzle solving, and Metroid references can begin. Like Metroid, The Deep is all about exploring environments and finding important items that allow access to other parts of the map or give unique abilities to the main character. A large red boulder, for instance, can't be destroyed until a player has collected the level three bomb upgrades, so plenty of secrets are saved for second or even third runs through the many levels and areas in the game.

The scuba diver is controlled via a virtual thumbstick when using the default control scheme, and this works perfectly, unlike the alternative touch-based option. While there are numerous threats to the diver in the form of sharks, deadly swordfish, and giant alien brains (the game gets pretty crazy towards the end), there is no health meter to be monitored during play. Instead, the diver's air tank steadily runs out of air, which can be easily refilled by returning to the surface. Taking damage from the underwater creatures will take off precious seconds from the total timer, so avoiding them is a must if any progress is to be made, as dying will reset all of the progress in a level to the moment the diver entered it last.

thedeep4In a particularly wise design decision by the developers, each level works as a sort of hub for about three separate areas, each of which is its own contained puzzle. In this way players can generally make it through one area, collect an important item, return to the surface, and then immediately head for the next in-level area. This gives the game a nice pace and makes for a great sense of urgency at all times, as a few mistakes in an area means that the diver will need to be especially quick in order to finish collecting all of the goodies in an area and make it out alive.

The various shops on the three islands offer tons of upgrades which can be purchased with the treasure that can be found so abundantly throughout The Deep's levels. Substantial oxygen tank upgrades, increases in swimming speed, better flashlights for those deeper, dark areas, and better suits to keep the diver from taking much damage from enemy encounters all add up to make a nice reward for finishing a level, as well as provide big incentive to explore areas and collect more gold.

There's something inherently fun about upgrading a character to make them faster or stronger for second runs through levels; I'm sure fans of Hook Champ will attest to this. The Deep successfully delivers that feeling of fun, all the while providing tons of enticing reasons to play more, like the allure of extra hidden gold or sidequests that span multiple levels.

thedeep3

Worthy of special note is the humorous, self-referential dialogue between the characters from the islands and the scuba diver. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion at the well-written quips from the island natives, and I feel that they give the game an extra layer of personality. While no text in the game is voiced, the music is pretty good (although it can be hit or miss at times), but it can't match up with the quality of the art, which is made all the more appealing by the high quality of the animation, especially in regards to the diver.

The Deep is not without fault, although its issues are not major. A little variation in some of the puzzles (which almost exclusively deal with flipping different colored switches to open doors) would have been nice, and I really wish that there was a way to check an individual level's stats to see if any of the hidden collectibles haven't been collected, but these are very small issues when one considers the fact that the game is an absolute blast to play. I do have one strong suggestion for the developers, and that's to change the design of some of the shops (the ones that require you to scroll right a really long ways for no real reason to get to the shop owner). That's just annoying.

All of my complaints against The Deep are absolutely trivial when I look back and consider the amount of fun that I derived from playing through the game. Unique level designs, the pleasant art, and that addictive, upgrade-focused exploratory gameplay kept me captive for hours. The comparison might be a slight stretch due to the fact that the levels are in no way interconnected, but I feel that fans of great games like Super Metroid or Shadow Complex will absolutely fall in love with this game. This is a hidden gem that should not be kept a secret.

App Store Link: The Deep, $3.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • RiverOnFire

    This one really is a hidden gem buried by all the holiday hoopla.

  • RiverOnFire

    This one really is a hidden gem buried by all the holiday hoopla.

  • http://www.vgreano.com Victor G.

    Like the idea of sea-diver, but it feels too "exploratory" for me. I guess there some variation with puzzles and what not, but I feel they could've made it better with more action.

  • http://www.vgreano.com Victor G.

    Like the idea of sea-diver, but it feels too "exploratory" for me. I guess there some variation with puzzles and what not, but I feel they could've made it better with more action.

  • bravetarget

    wow. really impressed by this one.

  • bravetarget

    wow. really impressed by this one.

  • MellowFellow

    Looks pretty damn boring.

    • Ryan Rigney

      Only if you hate pure joy :)

      • nephilim apps

        your an idiot! this is amazing so far!

      • sk8erdude50

        actually, i sorta agree with him, i just dont like the artwork that much

  • MellowFellow

    Looks pretty damn boring.

    • Ryan Rigney

      Only if you hate pure joy :)

      • nephilim apps

        your an idiot! this is amazing so far!

      • sk8erdude50

        actually, i sorta agree with him, i just dont like the artwork that much

  • Chrono Gear

    Just waiting for a price drop. Looked good the day it came out. Again I'm too cheap to spend more than a cheeseburger on an iPod game...

    • Ryan Rigney

      I really hope that more people can begin to move away from that type of thinking... if they do, the iPhone/iPod Touch could actually become the dominant portable gaming platform... It's all about changing people's perspectives on it, though, I guess.

      • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

        Then here's to hoping it never becomes the dominant portable gaming platform. Cheers!

      • Deewin

        I disagree. Apps are so cheap, quick and easy to get and lots of people like to impulse buy them often. If you're going to continue to buy apps on a regular basis then it's only wiser to wait for some sales.

    • Ryan Rigney

      That's a fair point, Deewin. I just hope that great games like this one don't get passed by because of a mere $4 price tag.

      • Troy M

        They shouldn't be. It pains me that people are willing to drop $30-40 on the DS for some pretty lame crap, but they refuse to buy a $4 game that would offer way more enjoyment than numerous $30 DS titles.

  • Chrono Gear

    Just waiting for a price drop. Looked good the day it came out. Again I'm too cheap to spend more than a cheeseburger on an iPod game...

    • Ryan Rigney

      I really hope that more people can begin to move away from that type of thinking... if they do, the iPhone/iPod Touch could actually become the dominant portable gaming platform... It's all about changing people's perspectives on it, though, I guess.

      • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

        Then here's to hoping it never becomes the dominant portable gaming platform. Cheers!

      • Deewin

        I disagree. Apps are so cheap, quick and easy to get and lots of people like to impulse buy them often. If you're going to continue to buy apps on a regular basis then it's only wiser to wait for some sales.

    • Ryan Rigney

      That's a fair point, Deewin. I just hope that great games like this one don't get passed by because of a mere $4 price tag.

      • Troy M

        They shouldn't be. It pains me that people are willing to drop $30-40 on the DS for some pretty lame crap, but they refuse to buy a $4 game that would offer way more enjoyment than numerous $30 DS titles.

  • Comercial9

    I really enjoyed the Shadow Complex game. Not just as an XBLA game, but as any game. I may pick this up, but the art style and underwater setting are a slight turn away. I'll still probably pick it up anyway though.

  • Comercial9

    I really enjoyed the Shadow Complex game. Not just as an XBLA game, but as any game. I may pick this up, but the art style and underwater setting are a slight turn away. I'll still probably pick it up anyway though.

  • Futarker

    This game is actually pretty sweet... I really does have a metroid / shadow complex feel and I like that I am going back to that old sc adventure type of game. I know the price seems hefty but for an iphone game it's pretty damn long.

  • Futarker

    This game is actually pretty sweet... I really does have a metroid / shadow complex feel and I like that I am going back to that old sc adventure type of game. I know the price seems hefty but for an iphone game it's pretty damn long.

  • nephilim apps

    woah... i didnt even know about this... i need to buy this (but am kindave scared about the 3.99 price tag (like if it will be worth it and stuff)...) and am downloading now! i need this as i am currently developing a metroidvania game for the idevice currently and am going to look at this for some ideas in terms of controls and such like see if the joystick works well (in my game my joystick didnt work so im using left and right arrows) but yeah hopefully this will be good

  • nephilim apps

    woah... i didnt even know about this... i need to buy this (but am kindave scared about the 3.99 price tag (like if it will be worth it and stuff)...) and am downloading now! i need this as i am currently developing a metroidvania game for the idevice currently and am going to look at this for some ideas in terms of controls and such like see if the joystick works well (in my game my joystick didnt work so im using left and right arrows) but yeah hopefully this will be good

  • eat@joez

    Great review, I played through the whole game and loved it. You hit all the positives and negatives dead on. Definitely worth $3.99 for those that are skeptical, this game has a ton of content for an iPhone app.

  • eat@joez

    Great review, I played through the whole game and loved it. You hit all the positives and negatives dead on. Definitely worth $3.99 for those that are skeptical, this game has a ton of content for an iPhone app.

  • Guardian

    Hi everyone!

    I'm one of the developers of "The Deep" and am both excited and humbled to see one of our games featured on Touch Arcade. A lot of hard work and joy went into this title, so it's nice to see it finally getting above the sea of apps that are available for the iPhone.

    If you haven't already, be sure to check out our other 2 released titles "Bloodlines: The Alexa Holmes Chronicles" and "Zombeat"!

    Happy Gaming,
    Russell Perkins

    • Ryan Rigney

      Hit me with an email, Russell. rkrigney@gmail.com

    • gamedev

      Serious? Always self serving, Russell. Nice.

      • Guardian

        Take it easy, gamedev. I'm just happy/excited to see other people enjoy our game and let them know this isn't our only game. ;)

  • Guardian

    Hi everyone!

    I'm one of the developers of "The Deep" and am both excited and humbled to see one of our games featured on Touch Arcade. A lot of hard work and joy went into this title, so it's nice to see it finally getting above the sea of apps that are available for the iPhone.

    If you haven't already, be sure to check out our other 2 released titles "Bloodlines: The Alexa Holmes Chronicles" and "Zombeat"!

    Happy Gaming,
    Russell Perkins

    • Ryan Rigney

      Hit me with an email, Russell. rkrigney@gmail.com

    • gamedev

      Serious? Always self serving, Russell. Nice.

      • Guardian

        Take it easy, gamedev. I'm just happy/excited to see other people enjoy our game and let them know this isn't our only game. ;)

  • Jonah

    A Metroid-style adventure that's entirely underwater? That's never been done before!

    Heh. But I'll probably get it anyway. I'm a sucker for Metroidvaniae, and I already beat Aquaria, man.

  • Jonah

    A Metroid-style adventure that's entirely underwater? That's never been done before!

    Heh. But I'll probably get it anyway. I'm a sucker for Metroidvaniae, and I already beat Aquaria, man.

  • Albert

    Lol. This is Ariel The Mermaid.

  • Albert

    Lol. This is Ariel The Mermaid.

  • Geocelt

    Reminds me of scuba diver on the zx spectrum
    Ah those were the days ;)

  • Geocelt

    Reminds me of scuba diver on the zx spectrum
    Ah those were the days ;)

  • Chad

    Will be easily confused with the popular pinball game that has been out for a while

    • Sammy656

      I thought the same, and did a little research. The pinball game doesn't even own the rights to the name, this company has had it since 2007. Don't even see how the pinball game even legally made it out in the first place.

  • Chad

    Will be easily confused with the popular pinball game that has been out for a while

    • Sammy656

      I thought the same, and did a little research. The pinball game doesn't even own the rights to the name, this company has had it since 2007. Don't even see how the pinball game even legally made it out in the first place.

  • Synergistic Ideologue

    Reminds me of Submarine Commander or Bermuda Triangle or others like that for the 2600.

  • Synergistic Ideologue

    Reminds me of Submarine Commander or Bermuda Triangle or others like that for the 2600.

  • TheRocK

    I hate when you do comparsions, and even put em in the titles like that. The last time I was fooled by that game you called "Crazy Taxi" and it was nothing like it and was just plain boring. So please don't do it unless it is a remake or something. Thanks!

    • Ryan Rigney

      In the review I go over the specific details of WHY "The Deep" is similar to Metroid, and include a couple ways that it's not. Comparisons like this let people know exactly what sort of game they're getting into, because otherwise I would have to keep referring to it as an "exploration-based 2D adventure scuba diving game," and no one has any idea what that is lol

      • spiffyone

        Ecco the Dolphin. That would be a better comparison.

      • Ryan Rigney

        I only played Ecco for a bit, and that was YEARS ago. If I recall correctly, Ecco is all about making it to the end of a level, and has a lot more in common with the old Donkey Kong Country games, right?

      • spiffyone

        No.

        Ecco was about exploring the underwater environment, finding the crystals hidden throughout the level to open up new areas of the level that you are in as well as new levels themselves, and occasionally solving a little environmental puzzle here and there which was used to also open up new areas (as one does in Legend of Zelda and Metroid, again, two other examples of action/adventure games).

      • MidianGTX

        Ecco the Dolphin was also insanely boring, I'm hoping this is closer to Metroidvania/Shadow Complex

  • TheRocK

    I hate when you do comparsions, and even put em in the titles like that. The last time I was fooled by that game you called "Crazy Taxi" and it was nothing like it and was just plain boring. So please don't do it unless it is a remake or something. Thanks!

    • Ryan Rigney

      In the review I go over the specific details of WHY "The Deep" is similar to Metroid, and include a couple ways that it's not. Comparisons like this let people know exactly what sort of game they're getting into, because otherwise I would have to keep referring to it as an "exploration-based 2D adventure scuba diving game," and no one has any idea what that is lol

      • spiffyone

        Ecco the Dolphin. That would be a better comparison.

      • Ryan Rigney

        I only played Ecco for a bit, and that was YEARS ago. If I recall correctly, Ecco is all about making it to the end of a level, and has a lot more in common with the old Donkey Kong Country games, right?

      • spiffyone

        No.

        Ecco was about exploring the underwater environment, finding the crystals hidden throughout the level to open up new areas of the level that you are in as well as new levels themselves, and occasionally solving a little environmental puzzle here and there which was used to also open up new areas (as one does in Legend of Zelda and Metroid, again, two other examples of action/adventure games).

      • MidianGTX

        Ecco the Dolphin was also insanely boring, I'm hoping this is closer to Metroidvania/Shadow Complex

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/enigmistico/id345901754?mt=8 Enigmistico for iPhone

    This game kill me i pass 3 hours a day in front on this beautifull game

  • http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/enigmistico/id345901754?mt=8 Enigmistico for iPhone

    This game kill me i pass 3 hours a day in front on this beautifull game

  • 3ggamergal

    Hey all,
    I am also from 3G and I just wanted to say thank you for the great review and all of the comments. We definitely appreciate your feedback as you play our games and look forward to any suggestions you have that you feel could improve overall gameplay. We also encourage you to submit any new game ideas.

    • littlejoe

      so why wood i wnat to let you steel my ideas. do i get sum money frum it. u must think peeple are dum because you want them to give you stuff for free but you want to take it and make money and not share. stupid. this game was pretty cool though. i also played that other game you made for my psp. taht game was horrible. glad you can make a good game now.

      • MidianGTX

        This is so ridiculous it's not even roflable.

      • MicroD0t

        agree (captcha was micro, lol)

  • 3ggamergal

    Hey all,
    I am also from 3G and I just wanted to say thank you for the great review and all of the comments. We definitely appreciate your feedback as you play our games and look forward to any suggestions you have that you feel could improve overall gameplay. We also encourage you to submit any new game ideas.

    • littlejoe

      so why wood i wnat to let you steel my ideas. do i get sum money frum it. u must think peeple are dum because you want them to give you stuff for free but you want to take it and make money and not share. stupid. this game was pretty cool though. i also played that other game you made for my psp. taht game was horrible. glad you can make a good game now.

      • MidianGTX

        This is so ridiculous it's not even roflable.

      • http://TouchA MicroD0t

        agree (captcha was micro, lol)

  • 3ggamergal

    actually, it has nothing to do with making money off of anyone's ideas. I was just suggesting that, as a gamer, letting us know what would you like to see. It is just something to think about. Glad you enjoyed the game and we hope that our future games will be just as fun. Thanks for the feedback.

    • Ryan Rigney

      A classy response to an insulting, poorly written comment. Bravo :)

  • 3ggamergal

    actually, it has nothing to do with making money off of anyone\'s ideas. I was just suggesting that, as a gamer, letting us know what would you like to see. It is just something to think about. Glad you enjoyed the game and we hope that our future games will be just as fun. Thanks for the feedback.

    • Ryan Rigney

      A classy response to an insulting, poorly written comment. Bravo :)

  • spiffyone

    *throws on mighty(?) genre classification cape of justice

    Metroid created what genre exactly? The first action/adventure game was the somewhat mis-appropriately titled Adventure for the Atari VCS/2600, and 2D platforming action/adventures like Metroid had their basis in games that ran the gamut from Pitfall! to Montezuma's Revenge to Impossible Mission. Metroid really just added shooting combat action to the formula.

    The more you know....

    *tosses rainbow in the air and flies away

    • Ryan Rigney

      "Like Metroid, The Deep is all about exploring environments and finding important items that allow access to other parts of the map or give unique abilities to the main character. A large red boulder, for instance, can't be destroyed until a player has collected the level three bomb upgrades, so plenty of secrets are saved for second or even third runs through the many levels and areas in the game."

      That's the genre that I was talking about.

      • spiffyone

        And what you've described is one of the defining tropes of the action/adventure genre (and the adventure genre for that matter, but, as you can assume, the action/adventure genre adds action gameplay to the proceedings in equal helpings). In Legend of Zelda does what you described, albeit in a slightly different fashion, and that game is basically Adventure 2600 on steroids. So too does the player do much of the same in all the other games I listed. All predated Metroid. Metroid didn't "invent" but rather "refined" an already existent formula of gameplay design.

  • spiffyone

    *throws on mighty(?) genre classification cape of justice

    Metroid created what genre exactly? The first action/adventure game was the somewhat mis-appropriately titled Adventure for the Atari VCS/2600, and 2D platforming action/adventures like Metroid had their basis in games that ran the gamut from Pitfall! to Montezuma's Revenge to Impossible Mission. Metroid really just added shooting combat action to the formula.

    The more you know....

    *tosses rainbow in the air and flies away

    • Ryan Rigney

      "Like Metroid, The Deep is all about exploring environments and finding important items that allow access to other parts of the map or give unique abilities to the main character. A large red boulder, for instance, can't be destroyed until a player has collected the level three bomb upgrades, so plenty of secrets are saved for second or even third runs through the many levels and areas in the game."

      That's the genre that I was talking about.

      • spiffyone

        And what you've described is one of the defining tropes of the action/adventure genre (and the adventure genre for that matter, but, as you can assume, the action/adventure genre adds action gameplay to the proceedings in equal helpings). In Legend of Zelda does what you described, albeit in a slightly different fashion, and that game is basically Adventure 2600 on steroids. So too does the player do much of the same in all the other games I listed. All predated Metroid. Metroid didn't "invent" but rather "refined" an already existent formula of gameplay design.

  • spiffyone

    Oh, and btw:

    The game seems to be less a Metroid-inspired (which, itself, again, was inspired by earlier games of the sort) action/adventure, and more inspired by the Ecco the Dolphin action/adventure game series. There's no real "platforming" to speak of, and the combat isn't much of a focus as it is in Metroid (where even in that game series it was third on the tree compared to platforming and exploration). Go play the Ecco games, then play this one and you'll see how closely inspired this game is by Ecco.

  • spiffyone

    Oh, and btw:

    The game seems to be less a Metroid-inspired (which, itself, again, was inspired by earlier games of the sort) action/adventure, and more inspired by the Ecco the Dolphin action/adventure game series. There's no real "platforming" to speak of, and the combat isn't much of a focus as it is in Metroid (where even in that game series it was third on the tree compared to platforming and exploration). Go play the Ecco games, then play this one and you'll see how closely inspired this game is by Ecco.

  • Shadrock

    Actually a metroid style underwater game HAS been done before, and it is faaaaar superior and enjoyable, albeit not on the iphone but it seemed worth noting anyways here:

    http://www.bit-blot.com/aquaria/

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      I've played Aquaria. The Deep is more fun.

  • Shadrock

    Actually a metroid style underwater game HAS been done before, and it is faaaaar superior and enjoyable, albeit not on the iphone but it seemed worth noting anyways here:

    http://www.bit-blot.com/aquaria/

    • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

      I've played Aquaria. The Deep is more fun.

  • Symbolist

    I'm looking at this games icon style - and I'm fed up. But I want to make the statement this pricing is a much more acceptable thing than going the "silent" DC way. I think $ 3.99 is okay for hours of fun. Nobody is forced to buy every game; and most people don't have spare time to play all the games.

  • Symbolist

    I'm looking at this games icon style - and I'm fed up. But I want to make the statement this pricing is a much more acceptable thing than going the "silent" DC way. I think $ 3.99 is okay for hours of fun. Nobody is forced to buy every game; and most people don't have spare time to play all the games.

  • Guise

    I'm liking this game so far but would really like an option to turn off the music but keep the sound effects. This is key for me, not because the game's music is bad but because any game's music gets old and slightly annoying after a while.

    Quality game, this.

  • Guise

    I'm liking this game so far but would really like an option to turn off the music but keep the sound effects. This is key for me, not because the game's music is bad but because any game's music gets old and slightly annoying after a while.

    Quality game, this.