From The Depths (Brilliant Skies Ltd.)
Sitting down to play From the Depths for the first time is quite a daunting experience. I followed the advice of Nick Smart, the developer, and checked out the tutorial video first, but my first few hours with the game mostly consisted of playing tutorial missions and messing about in the vehicle designer. There are a lot of hand holding and step by step instructions for the tutorials, but From the Depths is a very complicated game and it takes time, not to mention patience, before everything start to make sense.
While the screenshots might lead you to believe that From the Depths plays something like Minecraft, in reality only the visual styles are similar. Instead of exploring, crafting and building structures, From the Depths is all about designing and taking control of your own vehicles. These vehicles can be anything from planes, submarines, battleships, spaceships and even hot-air balloons which you can design and construct from the ground up. The game has a bewildering array of components for you to work with and creating these vehicles isn’t simply a case of slapping together a set of pre-made parts and calling it a day. Instead, you will have to design custom engines from individual components, construct your vehicle while taking factors such as drag, inertia and buoyancy in mind and then take control of it in an environment with realistic physics. As if this wasn’t already complicated enough, you can even design custom missiles, bombs and torpedoes or use a mainframe and AI cards to design a custom AI for your vehicle!
To be honest, my first few attempts at designing a working vehicle were pretty terrible and getting used to the controls took me a while. If you come into this game expecting it to control exactly like Minecraft you are in for a surprise. I suggest that you stick with it though, as the controls will start to make sense once you have mastered all the short-cuts such as shrinking blocks, mirroring and fills. It can take quite a bit of time to create even smaller craft initially, but my jaw almost hit the floor when I installed a few community made vehicle blueprints. The creativity and ingenuity on display was simply incredible and demonstrated that your only limitation in From the Depths is the amount of free time that you have and your imagination.
Updates are sometimes very slow to appear for Early Access titles, but the developer of From the Depths is clearly a man on a mission. Not only is he very active on the Steam forums and listening to all feedback, but he is also constantly polishing and adding to the game while frequently posting about what he is busy working on. The game has already received numerous updates in the short time since its release and he shows no signs of slowing down. This is quite impressive considering the scope and depth of the game as well as the fact that he is mostly working alone.
At this stage the game features a creative mode where you can design and save vehicle blueprints to your heart’s content, a campaign mode, which you unlock by leveling up, as well as a story mode with specific missions. Multi-player and co-op are in the works and all kinds of interesting things, such as monsters, special locations and more are still planned for the campaign. At the moment there is more than enough to keep you busy with, even if you just engage in some skirmishes with the AI.
This preview is already getting rather lengthy and I haven’t even touched on the visuals or audio. Suffice to say that From the Depths is definitely worth the investment and is a title that can keep you busy for months if you become hooked. Judging by the features already present and the ones that the developer is still planning to implement there is no doubt that this game is going to be truly epic when it is done.
This preview is based on the Early Access Version 1.50 of the game.