Deep Down Hands On Preview: Clunky And Gray

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For a game that highlights its procedurally-generated dungeons, it sure is lacking in variety.

I got the chance to get my hands on Capcom’s surprise dungeon-diving RPG: Deep Down, at Tokyo Game Show this year. In the ten minute demo, I was struck by the fact that for a game that boasts about its procedurally-generated dungeons and random enemy distribution, it was sure lacking in variety. I could see the workings of a good game just below the surface, but I wasn’t able to get to it. The game may be looking more and more like a spiritual successor to Dark Souls, but it may not be the game Dark Souls fans have been waiting for.

Full disclosure: I suck at Dark Souls. I actually suck at a lot of console action-RPGs like it too, such as God of War and Devil May Cry. So, when I was handed the controller to Deep Down, I was very relieved to see a “casual mode” option. Obviously, this is going to upset the same kind of purists who saw red when Capcom gave Mega Man 10 an “easy mode” but for me, I was glad to have the option.

That said, even playing in casual mode, the combat felt incredibly clunky. The controls themselves were fine, allowing me to map “special abilities” to the face buttons while using the shoulder buttons as weak and strong attacks, but fighting Deep Down‘s mythical beasts just felt like I was stabbing wildly into the dark. Some of the special abilities were pretty cool and quite effective, but the basic shoulder button attacks just feel kind of lame and ineffective.

On top of that, every monster I fought in the demo felt like some (slight) variation of “giant lumbering bipedal dog thing.” Some of them had different weapons but none of them really felt different or distinct.

So here I am running around jabbing my spear wildly into giant dog things trying to find the exit to this dungeon. This procedurally-generated dungeon that has done a great job of generating a whole bunch of 1-tile “pits,” that have me climb up and down a ladder each time to move past them. I swear I spent more time climbing ladders than I did fighting bad guys.

However, the game itself does look pretty gorgeous. The dungeon that I spent most of mine time in was just a tad too much samey and gray, but the atmospheric lighting peering in through the cracks is beautiful, the outdoors sections that I glimpsed looked very pretty, and all of the character models themselves take ample advantage of the PS4’s hardware.

So overall, you can color me unimpressed with Deep Down so far. This could just be because I suck at these kinds of games, but from what I saw it was much too gray and much too clunky. The procedurally-generated dungeons are being touted as the biggest draw of the game, but to me, they were actually one of the biggest drawbacks. However, with only ten minutes to play around with it, it’s hard to give it much more than a fleeting assessment.

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