About a week ago GamingShogun was given a chance to review Deep Blue Sea, a casual puzzle-type game from the good folks over at The Game Equation (GamingShogun reported on the creation of The Game Equation here). While GamingShogun usually tries to complete a review and post our findings within a day or two, we were uncharacteristically late with Deep Blue Sea. My only excuse is that I was too busy playing the game to bother with actually writing the review! In short, Deep Blue Sea is fun!
Broken down to its most basic, Deep Blue Sea is a Bewjeweled-style puzzle game. You swap adjoining pieces in order to make rows of 3 or more similar tiles, which then vanish and allow the pieces on top to drop down. Unlike Bejeweled, the game play is FAST, and large cascading chains are not uncommon. The board sizes and shapes vary significantly, as do the special tiles. Unlike Bejeweled, you don’t have to wait for the cascade to stop before you start swapping more tiles. This can make cascades massive!
The main character is a female diver in search of treasure. The goal of each level is to get your diver, who occupies a tile, down to the bottom. Each of the tiles represents various sea creatures (star fish, sea horses, puffer fish, octopus etc…) which block her path. In addition to the diver tile, there are often 2 or more treasure tiles which you must also get to the bottom of the board. Create a row of three beneath the character/treasure tiles, and the row vanishes, allowing the character/treasure tiles to move one row closer to freedom.
As you progress through higher levels, some tiles are chained (either with a single or double chain). These tiles are immovable until the chains are broken. One chain will break off if you can somehow use that tile to create a row of 3 (or use one of your power items). Once the last chain is off, that piece is freely moveable again. In the later levels these chained pieces often block the progress getting the character/treasure tiles to the bottom.
As a seasoned Bejewled player, I found the game mechanics intuitive and have easily completed each level I’ve played so far (I’m on about level 80 or so right now… the Shogun forced me to stop playing to write this review…bastard!!). I strongly feel that the difficulty could be increased without losing any enjoyment. I have no idea what happens if you fail to rescue a character or treasure tile because I’ve not let it happen yet.
There are certain power items available to assist you in completing each level. One set of items is purchasable from your character’s store and include extra air tanks (each level is timed if I hadn’t mentioned that yet), bombs, piranha to gobble tiles etc… These items fit into your initial 2-slot dive belt (upgradeable to 3 and 4-slot belts as you earn cash). As the story progresses you also have access to certain magic items which are slowly charged (and recharged after use) by making and completing certain tile rows. In between levels you can also charge the magic items at your shop. One of my (very minor) complaints about the game is that no matter how close to fully charged a magic item is, it costs the same amount to recharge it as if it were completely empty. I have never had any problems having enough money to buy what I wanted. Another way of increasing the difficulty would be to tweak how much money you can collect per dive.
I will not spoil the game’s story other than to say you meet an intelligent sea creature during one of your early dives and are soon involved in a treasure hunting quest! The story is entertaining and I wish there were more of it. Sometimes 4-5 levels can be completed before you get a story update. I also attempted to show my girlfriend the game, but wasn’t sure if I would lose my progress if I ‘logged out’ so I didn’t risk it!
Deep Blue Sea can run in either a full-screen or windowed mode. If you’re playing this at work (like I am), stick with the windowed option.
Conclusion: As an office casual game, Deep Blue Sea is close to perfect. It scores very highly on my Ease-of-Office-Use standard. The levels require logical thinking to complete, are entertaining, and don’t last longer than 2-5 minutes each. Perfect for sneaking in a level almost anytime you want without getting caught by your boss. Speaking of which, mine seems to have left for lunch, so I’m getting back into the action!
***Update: It has come to our attention that there are a max of five profiles available in the game which could count as ‘save slots’ to some users. The reviewer in this case is speaking about multiple save slots in one profile. This would allow you to, say, go back to your previous save if you didnt like a purchase you made in the course of the story.
***Retraction: Initially, to our reviewer it appeared as though there was no way to de-select a selected item without using it. This has turned out to be false as by right-clicking you deselect whatever you have selected.