Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
It’s not quite the forgotten child of the X-COM series – that title probably belongs to the ambitious but confused Apocalypse – but Terror From The Deep certainly gets a slightly raw deal. To a great extent, it deserves it – it’s primarily a quickly-made reskin with the difficulty cranked up. And yet my fondness for it is almost greater than my fondness for the first, admittedly superior game.
To some extent, that’s because it’s underwater, and that means it’s gloomier, stranger and somehow more oppressive. It has atmosphere in spades, and the oddball equipment and slow-firing weapons always made it seem more deadly to me too. This was humanity fighting an impossible war. Its harpoons and nautical UFOs also have a slight steampunk element, without quite relying on tropes. Terror From The Deep is an odd fish, basically, even though almost everything it does beneath the surface is a straight-up repeat of X-COM.
I’m perhaps romanticising slightly because I never owned TFTD myself – a neighbour’s kid did, and wouldn’t let me copy it, so I played it in brief bursts when visiting, and primarily in the glorious week when they were on holiday and asked me to feed the hamster. Even so, I could only get in an hour before I had to rush home, fearing vengeful parents. So TFTD was a rarity to me. These days it’s just one more name on my Steam list, but I never load up it because I want it to remain precious. I want to hang onto the true belief I had back then that it was a true sequel, which did so much more than replicate.