The fifth episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2018.

Hidden Deep is the sort of project I find fascinating.

In development for three years, Hidden Deep is a labour of love for its sole developer Łukasz Kałuski. He was brought up on the Atari 800XL and Amiga and, like me, followed up with a short burst of game developement creativity. But he put those gamemaking dreams to one side, unconvinced it would pay the bills… only to return to them many years later during the second era of indie development.

His original idea was to make a mining game in which players would utilise all sorts of machines, but Kałuski became doubtful players would find this interesting. What he did was merge the mining game into his love for sci-fi horror such as Alien and The Thing.

So now we have this 2D game which channels Another World, featuring four marines descending into a fully destructible mine rich with machines… and nameless horrors. There’s even a little lifesigns readout for each marine and a Prometheus-inspired mapping orb.

The marines die easily; one mistake with a grapple gun and your man has been smashed against a rock face. It’s a deadly game. Which brings me to my concerns about the project.

A friend of Kałuski’s worked very hard on the Rezzed stall, talking each player through the careful set of actions needed to get through the demo section of the mine. I saw a gulf between the complex, harsh and slightly unreadable environment… and a satisfying play experience. While the technical structure of the game may be in place, a chunk of vital design may be missing to turn it into something that players can work with alone and this may push back the eventual release date to resolve. Or worse: scale back the ambition.

I wish Kałuski luck on his continuing journey into Hidden Deep. I hope he makes it back to the rest of us, because I want to see this project shipped. Check the website for more details.

Interested in other games I’ve dabbled with? Check out the series index!

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2 thoughts on “Dabbling with… Hidden Deep

  1. I’ve recently been playing Deep Rock Galactic online with friends and really enjoying it, so some of the mechanics described in here resonate with me! They look like very different games indeed, so I’ll happily try this out as well.

    One question – the team of four marines, are they controlled by multiple players or is this a sort of single-player action-puzzler requiring flipping between team members?

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