I hate to pigeonhole Biart, but this independent Russian developer definitely has a type. In the past few years they have announced Fish & Reefs, Reef Aquarium and Underwater Wars. It's clear that this is a company as in love with water-based games as Koei is with ancient Chinese wars. Their newest game, Deep Black: Reloaded, is no exception. It combines the look and feel of Dead Space with the action of Gears of War, drowns them both in water and calls it a day. Too bad I was the one who needed to come up for air.
You play Lieutenant Syrus Pierce, a heavily armored ex-mercenary who happens to look exactly like Isaac from Dead Space. Your job is to break into an underwater facility and rescue the hostages. Along the way you discover that a bio-terrorist organization has nefarious plans that you must stop. Of course, all this amounts to a whole lot of shooting, dying, reloading and more shooting.
The action feels like it was ripped directly from Gears of War, which means that you'll spend most of your time kneeling next to a crate looking for the perfect time to pop up and shoot your opponents. The game's linear level designs force players into a never-ending slew of enemy encounters, all of which play out in exactly the same way. This is a solid foundation for an action game (as proven by Epic), but Deep Black: Reloaded misses the mark every step of the way.
For starters, the enemies take far too much damage. It's one thing to unload an entire clip into one of those Gears of War aliens; they're gigantic bulked-up creatures that look like they would be unfazed by a simple bullet. But here the enemies are guards and soldiers, people that shouldn't require 20 - 30 bullets. Thankfully you'll pick up more powerful guns along the way, but there's always the feeling of imbalance between what the bad guys look like and how strong they seem to be.
It also doesn't help that Syrus Pierce can die in only a matter of seconds. All it takes is one or two well-armed men to quickly take down our hero, so it pays to always stay covered. The problem is that it's not always easy to reach cover in time. Enemies will pop out of nowhere as you push forward into the level, giving you very little time to successfully retreat for cover. There are times when I died while simply turning around, which left me a bad taste in my mouth.
The game's frustration starts early, too. The tutorial tries to teach players how to hack a drone to use against other enemies. On paper that's a great idea, but in practice the drone moves too fast and hacking takes a little too long. This imbalance resulted in me dying a half dozen times in the tutorial. This is only made worse in the actual game, when bad guys will rush our hero giving him little to no time to react. You know you're in for a tough go of it when you die multiple times in a simple tutorial.
The constant dying is only made worse with Deep Black's horrible checkpoint system. It's common to have to fight through wave after wave of enemies multiple times before reaching the next checkpoint. It's especially frustrating because an enemy can pop out of virtually nowhere and kill you almost immediately ... even on the normal difficulty. I found myself replaying a number of cringe-inducing sequences simply because of one guy I missed along the way. These cheap deaths only accentuate the game's negative aspects.
Deep Black: Reloaded is an underwater Gears of War clone. While a good idea in theory, the execution here is all wrong. Frustrating action, poor checkpointing, boring level designs and enemies that take far too many bullets to kill. There are some good ideas here, but you have to dive deep to find them!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!