Going Deep

One of the big surprises of Sony’s February PS4 reveal was when Capcom showed off their new online multiplayer medieval fantasy game, Deep Down. At least, we thought it was a medieval fantasy game—until, during the events leading up to Tokyo Game Show, we learned that we should maybe stop with all the Dark Souls and Dragon’s Dogma comparisons, and instead look more to Assassin’s Creed.

While much of the game’s action will indeed be set in the past, your character is actually part of Ravens, a special team of people living in 2094 New York. These individuals have the ability to travel back in time to explore eras of interest, although nothing (as of yet) has been said as to why these time periods are on the Ravens’ radar, or how the Ravens actually time travel. So, while a medieval setting will surely be included, that’s not to say the American Revolution or the Renaissance are off the table either.

Deep Down wasn’t done showing itself off, however, and at TGS I was lucky enough to actually get my hands on this fascinating new title while at Sony’s booth.

I began by selecting one of two lance-wielding medieval knights, whose only real differences on the surface seemed to be cosmetic (with one wearing silver armor and the other clad in gold). I chose the more traditional silver, and was brought to a character customization screen with three branches of abilities set before me. I admit my lack of understanding Japanese left me a disadvantage here, but I was able to select three abilities from the first tree, and two more abilities from each of the following two trees.

I was then teleported to what I can only assume to be a level specifically designed for the demo, as the lack of complexity left it wanting, with only a few corridors and enemies to speak of. The level’s detail, however, was a fine testament to next-gen hardware, as every stone in the wall seemed to exist on its own and dynamic lighting and dust particles galore gave me the sense that I was indeed exploring a small section of some ancient dungeon.

As I slowly proceeded down the first corridor—avoiding the fire spewing stone turrets placed at regular intervals—I was confronted by a creature that could best be described as a hairless Rodent of Unusual Size from The Princess Bride standing on its hindquarters. Where the look of the game had first wowed me (and actually continued to do so with how grotesque the creature standing in front of me was), the controls knocked me back down a level as they felt clunky and slow in regards to the combat. I could swing my lance wildly directly in front of me, or aim and thrust forward with the triggers, but I felt like I was fighting both methods as much as I was the ROUS (Rodents of Unusual Size).

The magic spells I blindly picked at least helped, as I could perform a strong 360 degree spin with my lance with one, or throw a variety of magical grenades with another. One grenade was made of light, and exploded after a delay; the other seemed to be a spirit scroll, releasing ethereal energy from its enchanted pages after contacting the ground.

As I continued to explore the level, I stumbled across a couple of hidden passageways that served as shortcuts and slayed another half dozen or so ROUSs before reaching the end goal, marked by a teleportation dais. As I approached the dais, however, a motherly voice began coming through the headset, seemingly speaking to my character. Whether this was a memory of the Raven or of someone from the time period, I’m not really sure, but the voice seemed to haunt me as I drew closer to the demo’s end and added a necessary layer of intrigue for the story.

When all was said and done, the demo was probably less than 15 minutes long—but it gave me a decent idea of what I could expect from combat, regular enemies (no dragons like those pictured above quite yet), and magical powers. The story could potentially be a huge selling point once more details emerge about the Ravens and their purpose. I think the game is visually stunning, and the magic is cool, but melee combat definitely needs more work if Deep Down’s going to be a hit.

I really wish I had gotten more than a thrown-together demo level. I’m curious as to why I was allowed to play something that feels so incomplete and yet clearly will have the complexity you’d expect from most RPGs (at least we hope) in the final product. This isn’t to say I’m disappointed, but I feel like the more I learn about Deep Down, the more questions I have. Only time will tell if the answers are worth the wait.