Indie Review: Deep Black: Reloaded
Deep Black: Reloaded is the PC version of the upcoming PSN and XBLA shooter, Deep Black. It's a fairly ambitious indie title, but sadly the trailer displayed above is better than the entire game.
- Worth The Time?No, it's hardly even entertaining
- Things LovedThe hilarious death screams of enemies, surprisingly good graphics, the underwater sections can be decent at times.
- Things HatedThe seriously dodgy and inconsistent framerate, dialogue is horrible, extremely repetitive and lifeless gameplay, the cover system hardly works, gameplay doesn't ever change, enemy animation is very glitchy, the game is just not entertaining, you can take damage while performing melee kills, it can be frustrating, most levels are spent in linear corridor shootouts.
- RecommendationThere's unfortunately no reason to play Deep Black.
- Name: Deep Black: Reloaded
- Genre: Action, Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Online (8 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox360
- Developer: Biart
- Publisher: 505 Games
- Price: TBC
- Reviewed On: PC
Personally, I love the indie genre, and I’m always excited to play whatever I can get in it. The genre often offers something that you just can’t get in mainstream. However, Deep Black: Reloaded is a painful exception to that. I hate to bash an indie game. It makes me feel like crap. But Deep Black sadly left me with no other choice. It just doesn’t represent anything I go to the indie genre for. In fact, just picture the most unimpressive, generic, simplistic and devoid-of-entertainment third person shooter, and Deep Black is basically the indie version of that. However, at the end of the day, indie game or not, I can only judge a game by what’s in front of me, and playing this was a pretty lifeless way to spend my time if I have to be completely honest. It’s very disappointing, because it could have been decent.
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Deep Black is a third person shooter set in the near future. It’s apparently about a chaotic world, terrorism, espionage and a desperate power struggle for biological weapons, but honestly I couldn’t follow much of what was going on. This was very much due to the horrendous dialogue and uninteresting storytelling, which eventually led to me having a lack of interest. The opening to the game makes things seem really cool as it blends in-game cinematic visuals with graphic art, but don’t expect to see that again. What was initially pleasant for me to see was that Deep Black packs quite a bit of content for an indie game, including forty single player missions and even an online mode. However, due to playing this game early, I was unable to play the multiplayer because no matter what I tried I couldn’t find anyone else online. Therefore, I will only be focusing on the single player, but really the multiplayer component only had Deathmatch and Team Deatmatch supporting up to eight players from what I could see, and I’m quite doubtful that it would have made this game a whole lot better.
The story just isn’t well-told at all, or presented in any engaging way. When you have lines like “watch your ass” answered with “I’d rather watch yours, it’s nicer”, it becomes hard to take the game seriously. And really, the example I just gave is one of the easiest to swallow. Later on the lady who that response is aimed at actually refers to her ass in a not-so-classy way. I also seem to recall her talking about having butterfly knives in her stomach or something. I’ll stop right there, you get it. The voice acting is okay to decent for the most part, but really I just found myself skipping the cutscenes eventually. If I have to be honest, I mostly kept playing to hear enemies die. When they die you’ll hear what are probably amongst the most hilarious death screams you can find in a game. I’m pretty sure it’s not actually possible to scream like that for so long after you’ve just been shot three times in the head.
Normally I wouldn’t particularly care about the story if the gameplay was good, but unfortunately it’s just as bad. I tried to be as lenient as possible because this is an indie game, but seriously, you can replicate this exact same experience for better or worse in the reject section of the third person shooter genre. Minus the underwater sections, which actually can be decent at times. However, I will say that Deep Black isn’t the worst game I’ve been exposed to, I mean I’ve played far worse in mainstream. But it’s definitely somewhere down there. There’s really not a single noteworthy aspect to the gameplay. For most of the game, you’ll just be advancing down linear, constricted corridors taking cover and shooting the same enemies over and over again. There are some underwater sections to break it up, but strangely they feature less than the on-land shootouts, despite being the highlight of the game. They’re not great by any standards, but they’re better than anything else the game has. Weapons fire differently underwater, and you’ll basically navigate in a 360 degree radius avoiding environmental hazards, killing enemy robots and divers and moving at high speed with your rocket boosters.
That could have made this game at least acceptable, but there are far too many technical issues and a serious lack of any real fun to be had. The gameplay is extremely repetitive and lifeless for a start, and it never changes. The only thing I haven’t yet mentioned is the harpoon gun you’ll get, which enables you to pull switches and stealth kills enemies on land from a range, and hack certain enemy robots to make them fight for you. That may sound a bit exciting, but it isn’t really, as you’ll hardly get the opportunity to pull off the latter two. It’s usually just one lone enemy somewhere, or a minute or two of shooting robots underwater. There’s no variation in the gameplay beyond that. All I can remember doing is holding down the fire button until something dropped dead. The more I played this game, the less I wanted to keep doing so. I wasn’t actually entertained, and I spent most of my time with it feeling like I was choosing to play Solitaire on my own rather than go to that awesome party a few clicks away.
I waited until now to get into the technical issues that prevent you from having fun, because it’s quite a lot to take in. Firstly, the framerate is seriously dodgy and inconsistent. The game often chugged when nothing was happening, and slowed down to frustratingly low rates at some moments of heavy action but not in others. Even worse, the animation is insanely glitchy, especially with enemy movement. Sometimes they moved freakishly and inhumanly fast from one point to another, and at others they almost seemed to half teleport and half completely spaz out. You can imagine how annoying this is when enemies attempt to melee you, either if you get close or they rush at you. It forces you to melee kill them, and the problem is that you can still get damaged while executing them, even by another enemy’s melee attacks. So it often happens that you’re doing an execution on someone, but end up dying half-way and left to stare at the game over screen while the enemy you were melee killing continues to die. You can probably see from this that dying in this game is frustrating, because it’s often not due to a fault on your part or a lack of skill, but rather a failure in the game’s mechanics.
The cover system is next on the list of irritations, as it’s the weirdest I’ve experienced recently and contributes quite a lot to your death count. Pressing the space bar snaps you to cover, and you’re able to blind fire or jump out and return fire the usual way. However, the strangest thing is that while remaining idle in cover prevents you from getting shot, the slightest movement exposes you to enemy fire, and they’ll often hit you the second you move. It often happened that I was on low health, and I fired off two or three shots blindly, but the moment my gun raised over cover I got hit and died. I tested this. Blind firing actually enables you to get hit by enemies. And not just that, but simply moving in cover exposes your head to enemy bullets, and heck even just reloading once allowed me to get shot. But if I sat completely still behind cover, I was able to fully regenerate my health without any worry. Another problem is that you can’t take cover while holding a heavy weapon, so you actually have to waste time changing weapons to drop it first and then going into cover, which can get you killed. I really don’t know why heavy weapons couldn’t have just been dropped automatically when entering cover.
The last grievance with the cover system is that you can’t jump to other nearby pieces of cover, but an evasive roll is mapped to the same button so you could make your character confused. Speaking of, another case of confusion can come up with the secondary fire option, as it’s mapped to the middle mouse button, but scrolling changes your weapon so the two can get mixed up. It’s also annoying that when you die, the “load from last checkpoint” option is mapped to enter, but the “restart the entire level” is set to space, which is exactly the key you’re going to be hitting before you die. Enter isn’t used for anything. Alright, there is a confirmation screen that asks if you’re sure you want to restart the level, but the confirmation button for this is the Enter key, so if you get mixed up you could lose all your progress. It only happened to me once before I started being more careful, but I wasn’t thrilled to say the least.
I’m pretty baffled how I managed to talk so much about a game that offers so little, but really, the screenshots and trailers for this game are very misleading. This isn’t a fun or good experience to have, it’s just boring and feels uninspired with its gameplay. However, the one positive thing I can say about the game is that aside from the technical problems, Deep Black looks surprisingly good for an indie game, graphically speaking. The models look solid, the environments are detailed and the water and lighting actually looks really good. Unfortunately, that’s where it stops, and it’s just such a pity that the game gives you no reason to play it at all. Since I’m always such an innocent and honest person, I must confess that I actually resorted to playing Angry Birds Seasons whenever I got too bored of this. Thank the world for Angry Birds. Right in the middle of Deep Black I’d just alt tab and have actual fun. But in all fairness, I didn’t give this the worst rating because it’s an indie game, it has good graphics, the underwater sections can be decent at times and it’s at least functional. That counts for something.
In the end, there really isn’t any reason to play Deep Black: Reloaded. The title’s ambition is admirable for an indie game, but there isn’t anything else noteworthy about it. There are plenty of other indie games that are far superior to Deep Black. In a thriving market, this game is lifeless, makes no impact, and it’s just not entertaining at all. This isn’t what you should be playing indie games for.