by Amber Hall
reviewed on PC
Back in August I took a look at Deep Sixed's early access build. It was both my first published piece with Hooked Gamers and my first published piece in general, and so the opportunity to check out the game in its full release was very nostalgic. Being welcomed by the infantile AI companion aboard my rickety but familiar ship solidified my return.
In Deep Sixed, the player must pay off a debt by working for a mega corporation in the deep regions of space in a poorly managed ship with the ability to travel just about anywhere in an instant. This means that, while out and about collecting minerals and information for this corporation, the player must also constantly keep an eye on their ship's functions. Things can go wrong quickly and it's up to the player, with the help of the ship's manual and AI, to patch the ship up or face sudden doom. I'm sure that sounds rather daunting, and it is when you first start Deep Sixed. However, with some time and just a little duct tape, you'll be able to explore the cosmos and waste your time away for some deeply corrupt corporation in no time!
KEEP YOUR SHIP TOGETHER
Much like before, the game is more about keeping your ship in one piece than space exploration. However, there are a few improvements made to managing the ship that make the focal point of the game all the more enjoyable. It's easy to navigate the ship and follow problems to their origin thanks to some updated maps and guides within the game. Moreover, the addition of an easy mode is greatly appreciated as it makes the game feel much less frantic.
That's not to say the space exploration is as lacking as it was previously. Aliens have new and varied attack patterns that make each encounter with them feel dangerous yet rewarding once taken down. Added to the game is a bestiary, so the player can get the satisfaction of taking an alien's photo and sound recording before blowing it to smithereens. It provides a bit of life to the universe you're exploring through detailed descriptions of each alien or even mineral scanned.
SHIP FIXING IN JUST TWELVE PARSECS
The addition of an easy difficulty is something I've thanked my lucky stars for while playing Deep Sixed. In normal difficulty, the game is a permadeath onslaught of ship malfunctions and alien attacks. Moreover, the damage to the ship is increased a bit in normal difficulty, so each alien encounter is that much more difficult. The result is that normal difficulty feels like a frantic race between you fixing your ship by deciphering the many things that could have gone wrong and the aliens ripping your ship to shreds. This eases up as you play because eventually you become accustomed to navigating the manual and even start to memorize what each individual error code and misalignment means and how to fix it.
A handy ship upgrade and repair system have also been added to the game. The store for this is found in the safety of your home sector, a small hub where the player is safe from aliens and the other dangerous elements of space. In this hub you can purchase materials that will help you on each mission, as well as upgrades for just about every part of your ship. These upgrades eventually ease the ship's tendency to break but they're also vital for harder missions later in the game. My biggest issue with this system is that you need to buy fuel and that quickly becomes very expensive to manage, especially with how quickly power is drained. Everything on your ship uses the fuel, including travel and lasers, so it's important to manage this responsibly. However, this isn't always possible as some enemies take many hits to take down and travel is unavoidable. If some functions were toned down a bit in their energy usage, this issue could be fixed easily and make things just a little less stressful.
THOSE ALIENS ARE SO PHOTOGENIC
Missions add a clear sense of directive to the game that wasn't there before and help progress the seemingly light story elements. There are usually a few options for missions to tackle, so it's easy to go for missions that fit a player's play-style well. These missions are usually about collecting minerals or shooting aliens with either a deadly laser or with the onboard camera. I loved the inclusion of the camera because I prefer peaceful mission objectives in games like Deep Sixed. I wish that this feature was used a little more, as it seemed I was mostly taking pictures and then killing the subjects of my photos, but filling up the bestiary was enjoyable regardless.
A GOOD GAME GATED BY A STEEP LEARNING CURVE
It's easy to pour countless hours into Deep Sixed, but it's just as easy to rage quit after a few minutes. There is a handy tutorial mission, but it in no way covers everything there is to do in the game. I'm sure this will scare many new players away, but if you take the time to learn the way your ship and manual work, it becomes quite rewarding to fix your ship like a pro and continue on with each new mission. And when things seem too dark, the ship's AI is usually pretty good at picking up the mood. She's silly and totally programmed with the good of co-operation in mind, so the player character becomes quite sassy with her. Indeed, I found that their relationship was always spot-on and made me laugh quite a bit.
Beautiful yet simple presentation, great humor and dialogue, rewarding if you stick with it
Difficult to get into, power drains too fast, more 'peaceful' missions would be nice