From independent Russian developer Biart comes Deep Black: Reloaded, a third-person shooter and a port of a console game that hasn’t come out yet. The story revolves around main protagonist Pierce, and the first thing you notice is how much Pierce looks like Isaac from Dead Space. Pierce spent much of his life as an amphibious mercenary but has since retired, but in typical movie-like fashion, he’s been called back for one more action-filled – and sadly frustrating – mission. The story takes place a few decades from now in a world where an alliance of nations has come together to more effectively wage war with another alliance of nations, and as tensions rise, it seems an event of gigantic proportions will take place, and the world is under threat from a very powerful weapon. Your mission is to stop this happening and save the world. Of course it is.

You may be surprised to hear that the majority of the game takes place on dry land, with the water sections acting as a way to give the player some variety. These sections work well for the most part, and are more fun than the land sections. They allow for cooler sneak attacks, and it’s an awesome feeling using your jet-pack to boost yourself through the water to battle through the current. Another handy tool to use beneath the watery depths is the harpoon. It’s not just the regular whale-spearing kind, but one that you fire at devices in the environment to hack them, thus unlocking a door or lowering a staircase for you. It’s one of the only positives of Deep Black: Reloaded.

Back on dry land, things get kind of ugly as it becomes apparent very quickly that this game is going to have some problems that hinder the experience. The first and foremost are the controls, and although there is the option to use a game pad, they are still not good. No matter what you do with the mouse sensitivity, you can’t get an even balance between the looking around and the aiming sensitivity. There’s no slider in the options, only high, medium or low. You can get looking around to feel bearable, but even the lowest option setting for aiming is way too high to work on any level. Secondly, it isn’t the most pleasant experience navigating the environments, and again this may only be a problem with the keyboard and mouse controls, but still, it’s a PC game so this isn’t acceptable. One of the many bugs that contribute to the clunky feeling happens when you are looking around and strafing – the screen shakes and just completely throws you out of the experience again and again.

The visuals of Deep Black: Reloaded are slightly above average for an indie title of this genre, and this really shows in the water. The art style isn’t anything to write home about but Biart has done a great job on the visuals of the game – it’s a valiant effort. The designers have done a particularly nice job with the lighting in certain parts, whereas others seem to lack inspiration and are completely forgettable. There is something about the in-game cinematics that makes them seem unfinished and just out of place. The intro is particularly well done, using a comic book art style which works nicely, and it is unfortunate Biart didn’t go back to this again during the course of the game.

The story never gives you a real feeling of what’s going on, or of the magnitude of the situation. The characters are completely forgettable and don’t grab you the way they should, and the AI of the enemies throughout Deep Black: Reloaded is clumsy, awkward and predictable. This, together with the bugs still current in the game, makes for an experience that you wish would either buck up its ideas or roll the credits. The shooting mechanics are enjoyable to a certain extent and satisfying at times, giving you some of the only satisfaction the game has to offer.

Given how much the water mechanics in Deep Black: Reloaded have been promoted, it is surprising that there isn’t more of it. The underwater sections are much more enjoyable and interesting to play than the dry land parts, and there are so many missed opportunities that could have been built on to make a larger percentage of the game underwater and remain interesting. Unfortunately, this game is boring, frustrating, uninspired and a wasted opportunity, and we wouldn’t recommend that they continue development on the console version. The game had a lot of potential which was sadly unfulfilled. There’s no real reason to play through this game more than once, and although there is a multiplayer mode, every time we tried to play there was no one else online. At about 7 hours in length, Deep Black: Reloaded still outstays its welcome. Sadly, we can’t really recommend this to anyone – with as little enjoyment as there is to be had, the game isn’t worth the price tag.

[xrr rating=3/10]

This review is based off a review copy of the PC version of Deep Black: Reloaded by Biart

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