I absolutely adore X-COM. I have never been more attached to a bunch of polygons in my life, and losing one of my soldiers has almost brought tears to my eyes after seeing them progress from a lowly recruit to my most important Lieutenant. I am also a big fan of FTL, the weird rogue-like crew management game from Subset Games, which I’ve managed to beat all of twice due to the absolute murderous nature of the game’s RNG. So, obviously, I should be calling Depth of Extinction the greatest game of the year, but there’s a big, big problem. It’s terrible.
The story, as far as I can see, begins with an android running up to you and telling you to find a macguffin. Then he explodes. We quickly get into our submarine, which seems to be required as the entire world has been flooded, and take off the find the thing that will help us get to the thing that will help us find the macguffin. So far, so X-COM.
You have the choice of recruiting mercenaries from a set roster, or rescuing people as you complete missions. Finding missions is done in a style similar to FTL, where you guide your ship (submarine) from system to system, not knowing if your next stop will bring you to a merchant or your imminent death. You can take a direct path to your objective and use less fuel (gas) or take a more leisurely route, which may reward you.
This part of the game play gave me no issues, even if it was directly lifted from another game. Where I began to grow bored was in the missions themselves. This is where the X-COM comparisons begin, since you control a squad of soldiers with different classes and weapons in turn-based combat. The first two missions went well, and I was enjoying myself. And then I noticed something very, very depressing: Almost every level was exactly the same.
You set your squad up in overwatch, you open the door, you shoot the bad guys, you go into overwatch, and you repeat. Over, and over, and over.
The first thing I knew I didn’t like about this game was the walking animation. I know, that’s kind of a really nitpicky thing to focus on, but it was within the first 30 seconds of opening the game that I thought to myself, “wow, everyone walks like they have both legs in a cast. That’s weird.” It was the first falling pebble of an avalanche of poor design work.
You can see there’s a lot of passion put into the game. The humor, when it doesn’t fall on its face like a clumsy skateboarder, isn’t terrible, although if it had been left out I wouldn’t have minded. The pixel art is nice, the UI is well designed, and there are some game play elements that took some definite thought, but the overall package is not deserving of the 20 dollar price tag.
If the developers put a bit more work into the game, such as adding a larger variety of maps, more character customization, fixing animations, and just some more polish, I would have really, really enjoyed this game and scratched an itch I didn’t even realize I had. Instead, it’s a mediocre title that is way over priced. And it gave me an itch that now I can’t scratch. Thanks.