From the Depths- First Impressions

A quick explanation for those unaware From The Depths is a game wherein you build vehicles out of blocks, and go fight other vehicles, also made of blocks. It’s a concept we’ve seen a bit in the indie game-verse, with entries like Starmade and the less blocky, but still build-y Space Engineers. Though, where those other titles are mostly about the building and exploring, at least thus far, From The Depths has made it clear from day one that it was focusing on delivering enjoyable combat. Seeing as the Alpha build recently became available, I thought I should see how successful it’s been in that goal.

The first thing I did was try to jump straight into a pre-made skirmish, thinking I could figure out enough of the controls as I went to survive. I was promptly proven wrong as I climbed into a fighter on a ship, took off, and immediately nose-dived into the ocean. Part of that was the control listing on the top left telling me that pulling up was ‘U’, and so was going down. Okay, so some of the icons are mislabeled, thankfully, they’re all right next to each other on the keyboard, so it was easy to figure out that the keys T-I and G-L are what ones used for planes. Also, bonus points for making the controls explained through little icons, so even someone unfamiliar with plane or ship terms would be able to follow.

I took off again, and managed to fire several salvos of what appeared to be bullets and homing missiles before an AI controlled plane managed to wreck my craft, but I’d managed a clumsy sort of flight, so I was happy. Later attempts showed the planes opening fire on what looked like a small ship in the ocean, which came apart nicely. The mouse buttons control attacks, including a little stab from your robotic player character via M2. Though, I found out the hard way you can damage your own vehicle with it when I accidentally damaged the seat of my plane, sending myself into the ocean as my plane drifted away.

After starting up a new campaign, I did manage to build a simple ship, all it took was a bit of reading the tool-tips for each part. The game throws a great deal of information at you in a short time, and it can be hard to take it all in. Still, I made a small boat that could drive and shoot without sinking, so new players can feel somewhat accomplished. Additionally, you start with a resource platform already at work gathering supplies to build and fight with, so you feel encouraged to try, knowing that if you build something useless and sink it, you can go back and try again.

I do have some complaints, but I’ll keep them brief. Some of the sound effects are harsh on the ears, such as the player-character’s speech. It sounds like a fax machine, which is a good fit for what appears to be a steam-punk robot, but it can be hard to listen to for the entirety of the tutorial. Also, I kept getting a high-pitched whine from the engines of the skirmish plane, with no apparent cause. Lastly, the graphics have a very distinct look, not everyone is going to find them aesthetically pleasing.

Overall, I like this game, and can’t wait to see it continue development. The few issues I had with the implementation were not enough to sour me on the concept. For those of you who are interested in following the game’s development, you can find it here:

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