Deep Sixed

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Deep Sixed

Preview

Get Your Ship Together... With Tape!

Surprise


Deep Sixed promises space exploration and a whole procedurally generated universe to explore. Reading the game's description, I was drawn to the game and ready to explore the cosmos, all while keeping myself and my ship safe. Upon starting up Deep Sixed, I was greeted by a simple menu screen, accompanied by foreboding sci-fi style music which made me all the more ready for this promised space adventure. But as I got into actual gameplay, I realized Deep Sixed wasn't quite the game I expected it to be.

In its current state, Deep Sixed is a game that's more about keeping your ship working than it is about exploring space. The most to be found in space seems to be mineral resources and aliens which simply smash into your ship and cause damage. What exactly the minerals do is unclear, and the aliens all serve the same function despite there being a handful of different types. It's my hope that they will expand on these features more in the future, because I think these features would really strengthen the space exploration aspect of the game by diversifying the procedurally generated universe.

Pride


Space exploration aside, the ship management is very complex. So complex in fact that, embarrassingly enough, I even got lost during the tutorial, eventually resulting in my death. The first daunting aspect of keeping your ship functioning is merely a result of the game's art style. Don't get me wrong, I love the vibrant colors and all the small details because it reminds me of a science fiction graphic novel, which I think is a perfect fit for Deep Sixed. However, it's this same level of detail that confused me as a new player. At first, I didn't know what could be interacted with or what anything was. Luckily, by clicking the middle mouse button, every part of the ship that's useful to the player is highlighted and given a name. It took me a few tries, but eventually I had a limited grasp on what each part was and what it did, thus letting me take in the beautifully stylized art without feeling entirely lost.

In the tutorial, the ship's AI, a chipper little dog, guided me through the ship's manual and told me what was wrong, but on my own, I had to know what part was malfunctioning, where that part was, and what items I would need to fix it. This was all a learning process, but the manual really becomes the player's most important tool. In just a few playthroughs I could read the manual like a champ. The instructions were easy to follow and there were even branching steps and solutions for different issues with a singular part. Using the manual was just complex enough that fixing parts of your ship felt rewarding, and I took pride in being able to encounter a problem, find it on the ship, open to the right section of the manual, and fix an otherwise harrowing issue with relative ease.

Confusion


But while the manual feels rewardingly complex, other menus can seem unresponsive and confusing. For example, the ship's hyperdrive can become misaligned and needs its rotational speed to match what the ship needs. The manual explains that this is how it is fixed, but once in the hyperdrive's menu, it's not wholly clear what needs to be done to accomplish this. There are arrows below the rotating hyperdrive, but pressing them doesn't change anything immediately observable, which initially led me to believe that nothing had changed and caused me to search elsewhere for the solution. It turned out that those arrows were exactly what I had been looking for, but there was no indication that this was the case until I began clicking them in wild desperation until the hyperdrive said it was aligned once more. This is just one example of many, but in most cases this could be fixed by simply adding a little more description to either the manual or the specific part's screen.

My last issue with Deep Sixed occurred on two separate playthroughs of the game. I launched a probe to gather some resources out in space, only to have the probe make sounds like it was flying off to collect said resources without it actually leaving at all. The humming didn't go away, and so I thought I would look up a way to fix the probe in the manual, only to find that there were no instructions on fixing the probe at all. I traversed the entire ship to try and find something related to the probe and still found nothing. In a game about parts of your ship breaking and trying to fix them, it was frustrating to not know whether this was an intentional breakage that I just didn't know how to fix or a bug I had stumbled upon. Given that I found no indication that the probes could be fixed and that the AI dog didn't let me know that the probe was malfunctioning in the first place, I'm going to chalk it up to being a bug and feel a little less inadequate than it made me feel at the time.

Hope


Before long, I felt as if I had experienced everything Deep Sixed had to offer in its pre-release state. I believe it has a lot of potential, but there's still a lot to add and to clarify. I'm hopeful that these are simply the basics of a much more enriching experience in the works, because my time with Deep Sixed was enjoyable if not for the minor frustrations and lack of any in-depth exploration.