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It Came: From The Depths

Read all aboat it

From The Depths certainly looks ambitious. I'll give it that. It's a naval first-person mermaidurer where you build all of your own vehicles and then fly/sail/submarine/hot air balloon them into battle. Oh, and it's voxel-based, naturally, so expect mighty capital ships that look like they were assembled by children who've yet to learn their capital letters. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it has kind of become The Style Of The Time. To be frank, I'm more worried about how all sorts of disparate elements - detailed physics, a random world, construction of every vehicle you use, and "dozens" of co-op and competitive modes - will come together. Freeform building tends make things a bit tough to balance, after all, and there are so many things here. But then, perhaps that's the point.

In short, you and your friends assemble multi-vehicle fleets and (hopefully) ravage the high seas, which are better than the low seas because you get a much nicer view from up there. Other players roam the sleepy blue giant, as do monsters and other such nastiness. You have to both maintain your own vehicles and board/dispatch/make bombing runs on those of others, which sounds like it could be great fun.

But those are just the basics. Here, somewhat dauntingly, is the rest:

  • Design and build your own vehicle, however you want.
  • Realistic physics – every block destroyed or added affects the vehicle’s functionality, physics and control.
  • Test your design in a wide range of multiplayer adversarial and co-op modes.
  • Use the spoils of war to unlock new equipment.
  • Randomly generated world with weather, monsters and terrain for each game.
  • The sky’s the limit – cannons, lasers, mines, bombs, missiles, torpedoes, propellers, rudders, jet engines, wings, hydrofoils, hot air balloons, anchors, fire control computers, and loads more.
  • Design custom weaponry and missiles by combining payloads, thrusters, navigation units, fuel pods and more, to deliver a truly bespoke weapon.

I really, really hope this one can live up to its potential. The concept is magnificent, but the jury's still out on whether it's a strong foundation or a stormy sea of directionless "survival" sandboxery. I'm all for freedom in games, but I'm getting tired of having to craft my own fun in addition to items, structures, and weapons. Having discrete modes is probably a step in the right direction, but the "dozens" bit suggests we're getting a cannon barrage of kitchen sinks rather than minute focus. And there will apparently be a big, NPC-ridden single-player campaign on top of all that. Developer Brilliant Skies has a lot on its plate, that's for sure. Other indies have sunken under far less.

But maybe none of that will matter. Maybe Brilliant Skies has already plotted a course toward greatness, and all that's left is to prod the steering wheel every once in a while. I sure hope so. From The Depths has already earned Steam Greenlight's fickle favor, but it's not on Early Access yet. For now, you can try the game's brand new alpha by donating $10 on its website.

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