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Shinsekai: Into the Depths

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Shinsekai: Into the Depths Game Poster Image
Underwater apocalypse adventure has a resourceful hero.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The frozen apocalyptic setting evokes the climate change disaster. Themes of loneliness, desperation, and determination run through the story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's character is perhaps the last person on a frostbitten earth, taking refuge underwater and doing whatever he can to survive. He's bold, inventive, and determined, figuring out how to use available resources to keep going and using force only when necessary to protect himself or gather resources.

Ease of Play

It takes time to get a handle on movement -- specifically jumping and boosting using oxygen tanks -- and aiming while floating can be tricky, especially if you're using touch controls rather than a gamepad. Also, objectives and what you need to do to achieve them are often a bit of a mystery, forcing players to experiment to figure out what to do next.

Violence

The hero uses weapons such as a harpoon gun and a sickle-like hook to attack aggressive sea creatures, including sharks, jellyfish, and anemones. Defeated enemies disappear in a cloud of bubbles and dust, sometimes leaving a greenish mist behind.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know Shinsekai: Into the Depths is a post-apocalypse side-scrolling action-adventure game for Apple Arcade. Players control an aquanaut who attempts to survive in the ocean, below the surface, which has been ravaged by a radical climate change disaster that has left it frozen. He fights underwater creatures -- including sharks, jellyfish, and sea anemones -- using weapons including a harpoon gun and a sickle-like melee tool. Some enemies emit what look to be clouds of greenish blood when defeated. Most of the player's time is spent exploring and solving contextual puzzles rather than fighting. The hero doesn't talk, but he proves himself resourceful and determined, doing whatever it takes to survive just a little longer and perhaps eventually find safety.

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What's it about?

SHINSEKAI: INTO THE DEPTHS shows us a world decimated by climate change. A lone aquanaut -- potentially the last remaining human -- lives beneath the frozen surface of the ocean, attempting to survive by scavenging what he needs from underwater ruins. But at the game's outset, the ice suddenly begins encroaching on his humble habitat, forcing him to figure out ways to dive even deeper. The adventure's set in a two-dimensional side-scrolling underwater world, which our hero navigates by walking, jumping, and boosting via oxygen tanks. Players have to be careful, though, since oxygen is a precious resource not always easy to replenish. Our little hero must also be cautious around sea life, including aggressive sharks, jellyfish, and anemones, that need to be fended off with weapons such as a harpoon gun. But the bulk of the game's spent exploring, scouting for supplies and suspicious looking spots on the sea floor that may contain valuable minerals that can be mined and used to upgrade your suit, including its ability to withstand greater pressures so that you can dive ever deeper, explore new areas, and potentially decode more of the mystery of what happened to the world and its people. 

Is it any good?

Like many Apple Arcade games, this one is best played using a gamepad if you can. Shinsekai: Into the Depths delivers an almost poetic experience as its story slowly unfolds over half a dozen hours in an inhospitable world. It's a beautiful realm, with gorgeous water and air bubble effects and enthralling underwater sounds complemented by atmospheric music. But it's also dangerous. If the encroaching ice or intense pressure doesn't kill you, a nasty fall or an aggressive aquatic creature might. Our hero faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles in his quest to survive, but he never gives up, using a mix of wits to work out solutions to contextual puzzles and brawn to take on the deadly fish of the deep. Using air canisters to boost through the water is handy and fun, but the constant need to replenish oxygen means you have to be careful in choosing when to use them. It's not an easy game.

That's why it's better experienced using a traditional controller. Jumping, boosting, and floating are hard enough on their own without adding finicky touch controls to the equation. Aiming on a touch screen can be tricky, too -- especially while moving. Add in a confusing opening hour, when players are provided scant instructions, easily getting themselves stuck and unable to progress, and some people are bound to grow aggravated. If you can play with a gamepad, it becomes a much more accessible experience, leaving players free to fully appreciate the thoughtful narrative while gracefully moving around the sea floor. Shinsekai: Into the Depths is a smart and bold take on side-scrolling adventures, and well worth a look for players interested in an adventure with more than just button mashing action.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Which devices do you tend to use most? What do you use them for? If you had to cut one device from your life, which would it be, and why?

  • Shinsekai: Into the Depths imagines a world suffering a climate-based catastrophe, but what sorts of changes can we make individually and as a society to help offset or reverse humanity's impact on the environment?

Game details

  • Platforms: Apple Arcade
  • Pricing structure: Paid (Part of Apple Arcade, a subscription service that costs $4.99 per month.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release date: September 20, 2019
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures, Ocean Creatures
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: October 07, 2019

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