From the Depths – First Sip Review
Creating For Fun
I have been creating things ever since I was old enough to piece together a giant Lego brick. I grew up on Link’n Logs and plastic airplane models. Each new creation sparked an interest in design and fabrication. Over the years my love for making objects evolved into cosplay, to the point where I am now an active member of a cosplay community. That need to create also bled over to my love for video games. Such games like Minecraft, Little Big Planet, and Mario Maker have become staples at my house. So, when a new creative building game comes onto my radar, I am always ready to try it out.
This is certainly the case for Brilliant Sky’s building/conquest title, From the Depths. This acclaimed indie has been around for over five years but has received multiple updates since then. The FTD experience that early players of this game had is now completely different from the current gameplay. With that said, never having played this game before I went into the experience with completely fresh eyes. I soon found out why this game is very appealing to a select few gamers.
From the Depths is many things, but story-driven is certainly not one of them. The single-player campaign mode allows you to play as eight separate factions competing for dominance on the high seas. There really isn’t a stated motivation for the conflict, just that each faction strongly dislikes the other. To be fair, a strong story isn’t necessary for this game to be engaging.
This is where From the Depths gets interesting. The building components are based on a voxel-style grid that allows for the free movement of the pieces. This gives the game a polygon texture of the sprites but also allows for everything to move fluidly as if it were not on a grid at all. I find this very fascinating, and quite a bit more appealing than games like Minecraft that use pixelated voxel art rather than polished 3D sprites like From the Depths.
The main problem that I came in contact with were minor stability issues. When the action was especially heavy on the field I found that some of the blocks phase in and out. It wasn’t unusual to find myself walking on a platform that I created and see it vanish beneath my feet. In the defense of the game, I was playing with a lower resolution, so that may have affected its graphical stability. I recommend playing this on a high resolution with a moderately fast GPU powering the action.
War games have to have an explosive FX base backing up its action, and From the Depths deliver this quite well. The soundtracks are ambient songs with some military undertones hinting at the urgency of the player’s mission. When the first explosion goes off on the hull of your vessel, you can hear what type of material is hit. It’s almost as if the hits have textures, showing the difference between striking metal and wood. That is a great little addition to this game.
The rather long tutorial is completely voiced and is not overbearing. Though I feel like the person who voiced it was a developer and not a voice actor, it doesn’t take away from the content of the game. The games sound is solid and engaging.
Before I get into this section, it needs to be stated that this game is incredibly and intentionally complex. The amount of customization that can take place in From the Depths is incredible, and couple that with the physics of the combat, and you get a builder experience unlike anything ever seen. With that said, learning to play this game is the single largest hurdle to enjoying it. I personally put in about 6 hours on this game and felt as if I didn’t even scratch the surface of what I could do in it.
From the Depths is not your son’s Minecraft experience. Creating, harvesting, and controlling your resources is a monumental task, and it is something that is meant to be done slowly and meticulously. Players with very little patience for this type of gameplay should steer clear of it because it will not appeal to their urges for speed. The combat, though exciting, it actually quite disconnected from the core experience of the game. Most of the weapons can automatically aim and fire at the enemies in RTS fashion, keeping the challenge of an actual gunfight to a minimum. However, there are occasions where you get to aim and fire on enemies, so this game does present the opportunity for a wide variety of playstyles.
Only Limited to the Imagination
The building process is the main appeal of this game, and the voxel pieces can be molded and altered in hundreds, if not thousands of ways to create anything you have your heart set on. I was able to go online and see some of the creations that other players have come up with. The word “amazing” hardly seems to touch the level of creativity and sophistication that some of these machines have. From the Depths allows players to create everything from massive airships to land roving death-mobiles. The only limit to what can be made is the player’s skill and imagination
There is a slight first-person shooter element to this game that only adds to the fun. The player can choose to control the robot engineer or detach himself from it and create outwardly. The robot itself can help with the fight as it can carry various armaments that can be used in FPS style and cause some damage to enemies and other players. All of these features are only scratching the surface of what can be done in this game.
I only wish that I had more time to experiment with building in this game before I had to write this review. Though this game has been on the market for five years, it’s player base is well established and has many user guides that can help fledging players navigate the often confusing interface of this game. I joked with one of my fellow Sip writers that players need an Engineering degree to truly appreciate this game, but I don’t think that it needs to come to that. To truly appreciate From the Depths you just need to open your mind to the possibilities of what you can do; then start building. It may take a while, but the true fun of the game is the process.
In Coffee Terms
From the Depths is what we call an acquired taste; not everyone is going to like it, but that does not mean that it is bad. It is like trying a New Orleans blend of chicory coffee; the spicy flavor tinged with a bitter after taste is often too overwhelming for people who are not used to the brew. However, after people drink it long enough they come to find that it is quite delightful. The same is with this game; it’s not appealing at first, but it gets better every time you play it.
From the Depths Review Summary
I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, gamer, writer, cat lover, and Steampunk gentleman. I like my coffee as black as night, so hold the creamer…