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hen Insomniac Games talks about its new title, Song of the Deep, the developer frequently uses the phrase “passion project.”
“Throughout development we’ve tried to create moments of awe-inducing wonder,” said Brian Hastings, chief creative officer at Insomniac Games, when revealing the studio’s new title. With Song of the Deep, Insomniac hopes to transport players to a world they’ve never been to, giving them “a sense of amazement and awe,” Hastings said.
Song of the Deep is a side-scrolling, undersea adventure rooted in Irish mythology. It was also inspired, in part, by Hastings’ own 10-year-old daughter. He said he wanted to give her a heroic character to look up to, one who would inspire her through her courage, love and resourcefulness.
The game’s hero is named Merryn. She’s the daughter of a fisherman who goes missing at sea. In an attempt to find her father, who’s told her salty tales of adventures and monsters and cities of gold, she cobbles together a makeshift submarine and journeys to the deep to find him.
“We get a lot of letters from fans, saying they identify with our characters,” Hastings said. He described Merryn as a heroine “defined by her will to go on in the face of impossible obstacles.”
Song of the Deep plays out like a “Metroidvania.” It’s a 2D side-scrolling adventure teeming with the puzzles and exploration of a maze-like Metroid or Castlevania game. Merryn’s submarine comes outfitted with a few weapons, like a sonar blast and a grappling claw, but over the course of her adventure, she’ll gain new skills and abilities. One, a diving suit, is Song of the Deep‘s equivalent of a Metroid morph ball; it lets Merryn explore the deep outside of her submarine, allowing her to traverse narrow tunnels and solve certain puzzles.
“Everyone on the team has grown up on these [kinds of] games,” Hastings said. “They were a part of our childhood. It’s just something we’ve never done and we wanted to.”
Song of the Deep focuses more on exploration and puzzles, Hastings said, rather than a specific mechanic or combat skill. The game is also threaded with cutscenes that tell its tale by way of a narrated picture book. (Incidentally, Insomniac is also actually working on a companion children’s book, to be published by Sterling Publishing.)
Throughout her adventure, Merryn will encounter strange, ancient worlds. She’ll battle menacing creatures. She’ll encounter a friendly hermit crab who will sell her new gear. And players will, Insomniac hopes, get lost in Song of the Deep‘s underwater fantasy world, uncovering its secrets and mysteries.