Originally released on Apple Arcade (iOS), Shinsekai: Into the Depths released on Nintendo Switch the same day it was announced on a Nintendo Direct mini-presentation. The hybrid Nintendo handheld is home to many ports that originated on mobile platforms. I was surprised to see the game was developed by Capcom, especially since it is a side-scrolling adventure (or Metroidvania). Shinsekai is one of only a handful of ports that have shown that mobile gaming has evolved and feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.
There is so much we (humanity) don't know about what lurks at the deepest depths of the ocean. Something about the vast blackness and overwhelming pressure that is genuinely frightening. In Shinsekai, you find yourself in an unsettling predicament. As the last surviving human, living amongst underwater wreckage in an aquatic world, you'll work your way through hazardous marine environments, solving puzzles and surviving deadly creatures. After the opening sequence, your home is no longer safe, thanks to the continued spread of the catastrophic ice that ravaged the land. With only one way to go, you venture through the sprawling underworld, constantly worrying about your precious oxygen and pressure levels.
Without any dialogue, text, or spoken, Shinksekai uses visual world discovery, as you continually travel deeper into the uncharted depths due to the constant threat of the ever-expanding frost. Our Aquanaut must scour the landscape for valuable resources to upgrade his ability to withstand the massive amount of pressure from being underwater and upgrade his equipment. Dropping yourself into the reddish water is a death sentence, which represents the pressure that can't be withstood. You'll need to continually be concerned with your depleting oxygen level (also serving as your health), as you locate cracks without the ocean floor releasing air bubbles to replenish your tanks. Oxygen tanks don't last forever, but you can always increase the amount you can carry at any given moment, granted you have the necessary materials. The containers are fragile, ensuring you must be careful not to fall face-first into the ground, boost into the environment, or take too much damage from creatures. Luckily, if you spend the time searching for new containers, they are quite frequent, especially on the easier difficulty setting (if you so chose).
Being in an atmospheric diving suit, your lumbering slow movements aren't ideal for normal traversal. While you can climb and cling to surfaces, which you'll have to do to reach most places to dig, you'll need to spend oxygen to boost yourself through the water. Traveling through the open water is the best way to get to your destination; however, you'll need to be careful of both organic and synthetic creatures as you make improvements to your suit and travel further down into the abyss. You don't wantto attract nearby sharks with your flashlight and get jumped by deadly robotic crustaceans. Along the way you gain access to a submersible capable of drilling through bedrock, and even providing you a lifelong, as long as you don't stray too far. Your inventory expands with various types of launchers, from multi-firing spears, to even a harpoon gun, further expanding your movements. The harpoon gun doubles as a way to reach new areas by latching on to specific hooks (opening passageways in the process), and it can even target enemies. When attacking some foes, you can pull them towards you to easily take care of them with your melee attacks. It can even be used to illuminate creatures, making them a glowing target for other foes in the area.
Eventually, you'll come across a little drone, that soon becomes your faithful companion. The creatures you encounter aren't hostile towards it, and it'll start collecting nearby resources for you, scouring into tiny crevasses you can't enter, and bringing you things such as additional oxygen tanks and pointing out objects of interest. It can even provide clues about nearby excavation sites, and more.
Shinsekai: Into the Depths may have started as a mobile title, but has found a new home on the Nintendo Switch. The sound design is simply incredible and immersive, and the game even recommends you playing while wearing headphones. Its an atmospheric side-scrolling adventure game that'll roughly last 8-9 hours on the standard difficulty.Note: Shinsekai: Into the Depths was reviewed on Switch. A digital copy of the game was purchased by SelectButton.