Mission: Deep Sea

Mission: Deep Sea is an undersea exploration game from Hiccup Studios and Chillingo.

In the far flung future mankind needed a way to carry out dangerous and complicated undersea missions. They turned to the most logical tool for the job. You guessed it: Telepathically controlled cloned sea turtles.

Let me run that past you again.

Telepathically controlled cloned sea turtles.

Thus we have the premise of Mission: Deep Sea. You’ll play as the pilot of one such turtle, taking on various missions with the main goal of saving the environment. The game’s controls are pretty intuitive and original. Each half of the screen controls one of the turtle’s front flippers, so you end up making actual swimming motions to move around. After only a few minutes of practice I was easily maneuvering the undersea terrain. I should also mention that the graphics are pretty good in this game. The sand textures look pretty believable and the water itself has a good murky look to it that gives you a feel for how dark things can be underwater. Your turtle itself looks great and animates fluidly, which is great because you’ll be staring at its back for the entire length of the game.

Turtle! Turtle! Turtle!

It’s quite unfortunate that my praise for Mission: Deep Sea has to stop here because the most important factor, the game part, is a poorly designed and boring mess. You’ll only have 5 missions to play through before the credits roll and each mission only takes around 3-4 minutes to complete. There is only one mission that stood apart from the others and actually took me about 15 minutes to complete and that was only because it was so poorly designed that you end up swimming around aimlessly until you find your objective. Also, four out of five missions task you with doing the exact same thing. You may be given some sort of different context each time, but in the end all you really do is position yourself in front of your objective to win. Even then, the game can be overly picky about positioning. The second mission tries to mix things up a bit by making you try and catch up to a moving target, and trust me when I say that this is the only remotely fun mission in the game. It’s never a good sign when your game peaks at the second level. The last mission is actually the only one that plays differently but unfortunately its so terribly designed that it just ends up being immensely frustrating.

There is a story here that the developers try to squeeze in during the last missions in order to give some semblance of a need for a sequel. Overall though, its pretty generic and easily forgotten. I also feel the need to rant a bit about the environmental protection themes present throughout the game. Let me be perfectly clear that I actually strongly support protecting the environment, but the way the game approaches the subject is just childish. In reality, sea turtles are an endangered species. In the game, this is no longer a problem because we simply solved it through cloning. Also, if you ever accidentally swallow a plastic bag (The only way to fail most missions.) you’ll be informed that everything is okay and the bag was removed through an easy and painless procedure, instead of the truth that your poor innocent sea turtle just died. Overall I found that this approach just trivialized an important issue.

You’d think that the only two cutscenes in the game would have actually been proofread
Overall, Mission: Deep Sea is a couple of great ideas held down by some absolutely terrible ones. The missions are repetitive and poorly designed, so much so that I simply cannot recommend it to anyone. Hopefully these significant flaws will be corrected in the eventual sequel.

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