Hidden Deep Preview – Fear of the Dark and the Depths (Early Access)

Hidden Deep game screenshot, Combat Gif
Hidden Deep Preview – Fear of the Dark and the Depths (Early Access)
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Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Hidden Deep

Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment

Developer: Cogwheel Software

Genre: Action, Platformer

Release Date: January 24th, 2022

Hidden Deep by Coghweel Software

The goal of Hidden Deep is to complete various objectives while exploring dark caves. It sounds simple on paper, but it’s a lot tenser than it sounds. For one, the caves are extremely dark, and it’s filled with plenty of blood-red creatures.

Hidden Deep game screenshot, Underwater

Things That Lurk in the Darkness

Thankfully, you’re armed with weapons to deal with the grotesque creatures, which include flying human-organ-looking things and deadly worms that come out of the ceiling. These creatures add a nice bit of tension to the game because they largely attack in groups of two or more. It makes dealing with them frantic and exciting.

This combat contrasts starkly with the slower-paced exploration and objective-solving situations. As stated before a lot of the game is about exploration while completing objectives. The level map is dark and slowly uncovers as you explore. Objectives involve rescuing people trapped below, opening doors, and even just reaching a specific area.

Movement is slow and the cave designs are dangerous. I would constantly shine a light on the ground to makes sure there I wasn’t about to fall into a hole to my death. There are also plenty of instances where you have to use a grappling hook to reach higher ledges. There is a nice accuracy to movement, requiring a smart and methodical approach.

Watch Your Step

Lower health means that you shouldn’t risk falling from high drops. And don’t use a grappling hook with enemies around or they’ll make you lose your grip. It requires a steady flow of many small but smart decisions without becoming a frustrating experience.

Hidden Deep game screenshot, Combat Gif
What I liked about the gameplay is the fact that Hidden Deep runs on a generous Lives system, and you respawn close by. The game can get difficult at times – shooting requires precision, and exploration can be deadly with so many high ledges – but thankfully it’s never frustrating.

My favorite part of this game is its exploration. It is slower-paced but feels fun to maneuver and explore. Plenty of gadgets at your disposal to help aid you through the environment make it really fun. I really liked how I could shoot my grappling hook to any rock surface, then use a back-and-forth motion to swing and reach a distant ledge. Another gadget I enjoyed was a remote-controlled ball which allowed me to scout areas ahead and fill out my map. I really had fun just exploring, while the combat took a back seat.

The combat in this game isn’t bad but feels less exciting. Sure you can use a handgun or machine gun to shoot enemies, but there is not a lot of variety. At the current state of the game, it’s really lacking in the enemy department, although the developers are planning to add more types of creatures.

Fumbling in the Depths

If I had to bring another complaint, it’s that the controls don’t feel as intuitive as they could be. Gadgets are assigned to keyboard shortcuts. For example, the movement detector gadget is mapped to V, while something like the using a Medkit is mapped to 9. Even when nailing the grappling hook to the ground to create a zip-line, you have to press Enter on the keyboard. Gadgets are mapped to the number keys in categories, but even then it feels a bit too cumbersome. It’s not a deal-breaker, but I wish controls were a bit more intuitive, featuring some kind of quick-switch wheel or something.

Hidden Deep game screenshot, Map
Music in Hidden Deep is very ambient, with echoed, almost muted-sounding synths. It’s very moody and unnerving to listen to. It adds a lot to the game’s atmosphere.

Sound effects are also well-implemented. Explosions, gunshots, gadgets, and even creature noises have the right amount of pizzazz to them. The combination of creatures screeching at me while I fired my weapons made firefights feel more satisfying.

The game nails its dark setting superbly. It often feels too dark, but I believe that’s the point: it creates a constant state of uncertainty. The game also nails its lighting effects. Shining a flashlight to uncover a bloody worm crawling on the ceiling or the path ahead feels great.

Hidden Deep is shaping up to be a great horror spelunking game. I really had a good time with it. If any of this sounds like your cup of tea, I’d say check it out.

Hidden Deep is available via Early Access on Steam.

Check out the official trailer for Hidden Deep below:

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