There's a great legacy of shark horror films. It obviously started out with the likes of Jaws (1975) and the legacy has continued with more or less successful attempts at recapturing that initial fright of a man-eating beast patrolling our beaches. It changed the way people thought of these animals, but hopefully, that initial and irrational fear gave way for a more informed view of these magnificent predators. Jaws was followed by the likes of Deep Blue Sea, and more recently The Meg. And a plethora of truly terrible movies including the infamous Sharknado films.
Submersed, by Main Loop, is a mixture of references which has recreated all those fears and phobias we thought we'd left behind. From the get-go, it brings you into a submarine base that's having problems because one of their sharks has escaped and is taking the crew out. We're not going to focus on the plot now: if you've seen any of the movies we've mentioned, you can get an overall idea of the story. Although true horror fans won't expect the final reward that awaits them, let's leave it at that.
Sega's Alien: Isolation was great because they did not try to resemble the James Cameron action sequel, Aliens, instead, it took its inspiration from the space horror original by Ridley Scott. That's exactly what Submersed is doing with its plot: it longs to resemble horror stories such as Deep Blue Sea, instead of focusing on playing a white shark with the sole objective of eating anything and everything. The same thing happened with Jaws Unleashed for PlayStation 2 and Hungry Shark Revolution for mobile. In Submersed the shark turns into a killing machine that doesn't stop for anybody, and we have to avoid it at all costs because we don't stand a chance against it.
Somehow, it seems inspired by Alien: Isolation's survival horror, but instead of being in space, we are underwater. No one can hear you scream. We don't have many resources, and getting through the levels is an ordeal thanks to Main Loop's great level design. Submersed combines different spaces in order to transform our submarine base into a freak show. They even bothered to include a morgue, and it haunts us even when we're not underwater.
The interior of the base works just like Nostromo's did: a claustrophobic space for us to feel constantly haunted by a monster that comes and goes, which we can't seem to defeat. Keeping hold of our flashlight, we must find out how to escape through the dark narrow corridors (alive, hopefully). We want to emphasise our use of the word "dark" because Submersed is probably one of the darkest games you'll ever play. We don't mean "dark" as in it being a scary game, but as in you can't see much even with a flashlight. Entering the base feels like travelling through time to Victorian England, as corridors are only lit by a dim emergency light covered in gas or smoke coming from damaged pipes.
Although we all know sharks can't swim through walls and we're safe as long as we're not in the water, Submersed makes me feel like that imaginary shark we never faced as a kid. The same shark that was going to drag us down to the depths with just one bite. Main Loop's game traps you in your deepest nightmares. And that's where the second space comes in: dive trails.
In order to get to certain areas of the base, you'll have to go around it. That is, you'll have to swim surrounded by ravenous sharks, which are also attracted by the lights on our suit. We have to say the controls are quite difficult here. Our hearts were racing as we got devoured by the sharks wandering around checkpoint cages. Once you get to these checkpoints, you'll need to drop the controller and take a moment to breathe. In addition, no matter how much you want to run, your suit will limit your movements, and you can only pray for the sharks not to catch you before you reach your objective.
Submersed could have been written by Lovecraft himself. We don't have anything to say against the atmosphere, story and the horror elements they've taken from cinema classics. Thank you, Main Loop, for making us fear the waters again ahead of the summer.