It’s always a rush to carefully explore the darkness, feeling unsure of what exactly you’ll find. Hidden Deep, which enters Early Access today, is very much about careful navigation and surviving bleak situations. As you might expect, the game isn’t easy, and it doesn’t hold back with requiring you to start lengthy sections from the beginning if you make too many mistakes. But it does a great job of building tension while making for a captivating push as you explore deeper into perilous places, alongside a militaristic theme reminiscent of some of the Alien movies. Also, lots of falling. But the question stands: is Hidden Deep worth it in Early Access?
When you first begin Hidden Deep, you start a new expedition. At first, it seems like the game is some sort of rogue-lite, but it isn’t. Early on, you have access to a single character belonging to the scout class. But your characters have lives. The game has sections akin to levels, but you won’t find checkpoints scattered all over. You’ll have to successfully make it to the next section alive if you want to find any sort of safety. The lives distribution seems overly generous at first on the game’s default difficulty. You can choose to make things easier or tougher, though.
On normal, you have about 15 lives. Characters, however, are extremely vulnerable to the world around them. Sustaining a few enemy attacks or taking a fall will quickly see them end up as bloody stains on the floors and walls. You movement needs to be deliberate, and caution is required. The scout has a grapple gun that can attach a rope to surfaces, with which he can pull or lower himself as need be. The movement in Hidden Deep reminds me of classic cinematic platformers, as you’ll often be the slightest wrong step from death. You need to be careful as you rappel. Thankfully, the pistol can be aimed while holding onto a grapple line.
No light at the end
The scout has other tools to make life easier as well. A flying ball that scans the surroundings lets you take a look at what lies in store for you. It even lets you electrocute any foes hiding in the dark. But these run out of battery charge quite quickly, and you don’t have very many of them, meaning that they’ll need to be used sparingly. The enemies I’ve seen come in the forms of bugs, slugs, and worms that grab you if you get too close.
The shooting is kind of clunky, but that’s understandable considering what kind of game this is. You’re supposed to be afraid, after all. It doesn’t take long to get a more powerful gun, though. Towards the end of the second section, you’ll meet the second class of character: the engineer, but they lack most of the scout’s tools. I needed to escort them to safety. Interestingly, you can swap between different character types, but they each count as one of your lives. If one dies, you’ll need to use a life to spawn another. You can give commands to your other characters, though, which allows you to move more than one simultaneously.
I’m quite fond of Hidden Deep so far, and I can only hope that the game grows more compelling as it receives updates. Trying to explore and survive the game’s dangers is exciting, but having to start a long section over from the start because things didn’t go your way is still quite daunting. If a game such as this speaks to your interests, then I’d say Hidden Deep is already worth it in Early Access.