Review: Deep Black: Reloaded

Review: Deep Black: Reloaded

The term ‘arcade’ has largely fallen out of common usage as of late and many gamers more than likely have never set foot in a proper arcade. Yet the concept of arcade style gaming is far from dead and we mainly have a dedicated group of people known as indie developers to thank for that. Innovative titles like Braid, Machinarium, and Warp, among others, have kept that passion for simple, yet engaging gameplay alive and kicking well into the modern age.

With games like Gears of War, Uncharted, Dead Space, and a plethora of others dominating the third person cover-based shooter market, it’s hard to believe that an indie developer would dare tackle this genre. With each subsequent game becoming more and more similar to the ones before it, it’s next to impossible to imagine that anyone could possibly come up with anything new apart from the story. Yet, here we sit and Biart has managed to introduce several new elements, some of which have never been done before. But is the experience worth the price of entry?

Deep Black Reloaded Underwater

Seeing as how this is game is classified as an indie arcade game, I am going to refrain from directly comparing it to full blown retail titles as much as I can. With that being said, the very first thing you may notice is how stunning this game looks. Frankly, it’s one of the most impressive indie developed titles I’ve seen in a long time. When I hear the word ‘indie’ I think of graphics like Braid, not Dead Space, so it’s actually quite a surprise to see such technical achievements from an indie developer because that can only mean one thing: more games like this are coming down the pipeline.

Deep Black: Reloaded is certainly not going to win any awards for its story as frankly it’s quite uninspired and largely forgettable. The initial cut scene delivery is entertaining enough to sit though and watch the comics slowly fade into in-game graphics, but when all is said and done, the main story had little to no impact on me whatsoever. Thankfully, I remembered that this game is, at its core, an arcade title and I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember ever going to the arcade yearning for a solid story-based game. Frankly, all I cared about was solid gameplay and Deep Black has plenty of that too offer.

If you’ve ever played a title like Gears of War or any other third person shooter, you’re going to immediately feel right at home as the controls are nearly identical. After all, why change something that works? I’ll admit that I tend to prefer the comfort and familiarity of a controller over the traditional keyboard and mouse set up, but Deep Black really gave me no issues in terms of learning the controls and as a whole, it functioned as well as you’d expect it to.

However, if you happen to have an Xbox 360 USB controller kicking about you can plug that in and Deep Black will instantly recognize it. Additionally, the on screen button prompts will switch to display those of the Xbox controller to ensure total ease of use. It may seem small, but something like that goes a long way and really shows the developers dedication to detail.

Where Deep Black really makes some strides, though is in its presentation and innovation. Solid water effects have been around since the days of Bioshock and we’ve pretty much seen what can be done, but the world of shooters has never meandered into truly underwater territory… until now.

Deep Black Underwater Predator

A vast majority of your missions will take place below the tides and thanks to your seemingly Dead Space inspired dive suit, you have the ability to cruise around like a subaqueous iron man and rein death up at those who neglect to keep a watchful eye on the waters below.

Under the surface you’ll encounter homing mines, motion sensors, currents, and even some electronic predator fish that can only be felled by mercilessly mashing the F button on your keyboard. It’s a simple mechanic, but hey, you’re underwater. What else do you want?

It’s strange that I’m about to say this, but I actually feel that the underwater controls are vastly superior to the on land controls. Everything underwater is smooth and fluid whereas the second you emerge (if you are able to) things become clunky, sluggish, and frankly… feel dated.

Your time with Deep Black is rather predictable as it is fairly linear and the pockets of enemies can be anticipated with nearly 100% accuracy. Chances are if you see three waist high barricades in the middle of the walkway, there are going to be a few enemies showing up shortly. When you actually do encounter some enemies, those firefights rarely last more than a few seconds at a time.

Deep Black Reloaded gun fight

If I had to pick a defining feature of Deep Black it would have to be the sound; not because it’s a stunning compilation of masterfully orchestrated pieces, but because so much of it is absolutely hilarious.

Now, let me assure you that this game is in no way meant to be a comedy, but the sounds these people make when they die had me in stitches every time. The screams of agony and gargles of drowning would extend long after their brains were splattered upon the floor and I had moved on to my next victim. It’s obvious the people doing these sounds effects had way too much fun doing it and for that I applaud them.

If this game was intended to be a full retail title capable of holding its own against the triple A shooters currently available I would be sorely disappointed, but thankfully it isn’t. Deep Black: Reloaded is simply an entertaining third person shooter filled with familiar, comfortable controls and mechanics with a few new surprises tossed in for good measure. The campaign is by no means short, but despite the 4 various locations the gameplay begins to drag after the first three hours as everything starts to feel stale and repetitive, but thankfully the water sequences are enough to save the overall experience.

In all, if you’re in the market for a solid third person shooter, but want the simplicity of an arcade game then Deep Black may be worth a glance as this title is truly an achievement for an indie developer and I look forward to seeing what else Biart pumps out in the future.

If you are still unsure about a full on underwater FPS, try the demo before dropping $29.99 on the full title. Deep Black: Reloaded Demo

Score: 6.5/10

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