QUICK LOOK: Deep Black Episode One
Deep Black was supposed to be a third person action game involving cover based tactics as your character navigates land and water areas of the map towards his goal.
What Deep Black actually is? A broken mess of unimaginative gameplay, broken mechanics, and amazingly poor design choices.
When the game starts we see a cut scene done in a comic book panel style with text appearing at the bottom of the screen but no voice over. That’s odd considering the level of polish XBOX Live Arcade games have these days but I move on.
As soon as you start your first tutorial mission the game’s mechanics show you that you’re in for a long road ahead. The first thing you’ll notice is that your character moves in a clunky fashion and wants to stick to everything. You’re anywhere near anything and you’ll gravitate to them. The other thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that the first step you take the camera will follow you but the next step will find the camera pulling away from your character and since you’re sticking to everything you’ll find all your on land portions of the game are played with the camera zooming in and out. At best it’s distracting, at worst it’s nauseating.
The next part of the tutorial finds you across a gap and armed soldiers firing on you. Now the gravitating towards the scenery is helpful but the helpfulness ends there.
I have a pretty simple policy. If the game gives me an aiming reticule and I fire where the center is I expect the bullet to go there. In Deep Black the shots go in the general direction of the reticule. This would be a bigger deal if a headshot actually killed someone but it doesn’t, enemies were taking 3 and 4 and 5 shots straight to the head. This combination is makes gunplay completely broken.
Once you enter the water navigating is done with the left and right thumbsticks and you’ll encounter the next nifty gameplay idea and how it’s broken.
You’re equipped with what is called a harpoon and to fire the harpoon you need to hold the left trigger to aim and then hit the left bumper to fire. Let me say that again, you need to hold the LEFT trigger down and while holding that LEFT trigger you need to hit the LEFT bumper to fire. It’s an awkward setup that should have never been put in the game.
Also as you enter the water portion of the level you see a semi cut scene and more text at the bottom but this time there’s voice work as well. So was the opening scene’s silence a design choice or simply broken? I’m guessing the latter.
What happens next is that you have to swim through rushing water and you do this by using your rockets which are activated by pressing Y. So to go over this again, you navigate in the water by using the left and right thumbsticks and while controlling your character you need to press Y. Again, no idea how someone even thought of this.
Everything in the game seems to be awkward. When you travel underwater you’ll find various mechanical monsters that will jump you and you need to hit B repeatedly to destroy. The swimming could be a very enjoyable thing but instead it’s interrupted by what’s the closest thing to random battles outside of an RPG. There’s no destroying these things before they pounce so you get the same cutscene again and again and again.
The rest of the level plays out the same way and that leads into the rest of the game.
Why you should avoid this
For a game that follows a week after the amazing Trails Evolution this is a letdown. From glitches and broken gameplay to the astounding control decisions this is a bad game all around. Do not waste your money on it, don’t even waste your bandwidth downloading the demo.