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Hidden Deep – Early Access Review

With a little more polish 2D action-adventure sci-fi horror title Hidden Deep seems poised to take its place besides Spelunky and Braid as one of the all-time great solo dev accomplishments. It’s got deliciously creepy atmosphere, a delightfully complex yet intuitive physics-based gameplay engine and that intangible yet ever important fun factor and did I mention it’s got split screen co-op? Although in its current state Hidden Deep is as likely to impress you as it is to infuriate, now to be fair you’ll often deserve it because one consequence of the game’s methodical controls which demands patience and precision is the occasional or honestly often hilarious fuck up, that’s not why I’m holding off on recommending Hidden Deep for now because it was often in those fuck ups that the game’s mechanics ironically shine brightest and I laugh the hardest so no I’m not pressing pause on my deep dive into this insidious sub-oceanic mining facility because it’s too hard it’s because, well.. it’s a little broken.

In my 7 or so hours with Hidden Deep which apparently amounts to roughly half the narratively thin story, I was on several occasions just forced to outright abandon and begrudgingly restart missions I had already spent 30 odd minutes finessing, for example, I once accidentally ran the stabilizer blocks, I had been tasked with gathering into a small cave and for the pathetic life of me just could not scoop them out. Then there was the time I spawned on the wrong side of a vehicle lift and spent 10 sweaty desperate minutes trying and failing to grapple hook my way out before finally giving up and embracing my true calling as that of a human sled.

There are some other problems here too, the combat suffers from unforgiving aiming, microscopic hitboxes and the lack of a melee attack but ultimately my gripes with Hidden Deep are playtest issues that should work themselves out during the reported six to eight months of early access ahead, after that I’ll be eager to give this game another dive.

In the meantime, patient gamers are sure to delight in Hidden Deep’s wealth of interesting mechanics emphasis on exploration and catastrophic yet always hilarious fuck ups. For everyone else I’d advise waiting for full release, but should you get impatient for some claustrophobic 2D monster mayhem might I recommend Carrion and Barotrauma as thematically comparable piers.

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