Miles Of Empty Ocean
HIGH The sense of surviving a watery wasteland.
LOW Uninspired, low-risk combat.
WTF Who names their kid Gunwale?
As waters rise after global catastrophe, humanity devolves into tribes fighting for survival, and androids programmed to protect humans have turned on their creators. As a member of the world’s last standing government, players will search the seas for a way to unite the remaining humans and save humanity. Without unity, only damnation and a watery grave remains.
HOF Studio’s Depth of Extinction is an isometric turn-based tactics game. Players get a set of randomly generated characters and explore an overworld via submarine in search of items, weapons, and fuel to keep exploring the sea. The overworld is laid out in connected landmarks, each with their own small scenario that plays out.
For example, players may find a warehouse with pirate vessels docked outside. They can choose to sneak in, go in guns blazing, or just leave the area and keep moving. Going in loud will mean entering combat, while sneaking in may mean players can steal supplies without being seen. Players might also run across a slave trader, and have the option to do business or kill the slavers. Other landmarks might offer a government fort or merchant vessel selling new equipment or fuel.
Combat is similar to recent XCOM games. Players need to manage placement of their characters to make sure they stay safe in cover, take shots at enemies, and handle reloading. Enemies may drop items or money for players to collect, and loot boxes can be found in most maps. Occasionally, players can rescue other survivors who will join the fight if there’s room in the sub. Otherwise, they return to HQ where they’ll be ready for future missions.
As characters survive encounters, players can eventually assign them a class (sniper, heavy, or assault, for example) which will change what type of abilities and weapons the character can use. Each class can also affect how specific scenarios play out. With the example of the pirates at the warehouse, players can have their sniper scout the warehouse ahead of time, meaning that new items will be available to salvage as opposed to what’s found by simply sneaking in.
It seems to offer a solid turn-based experience, but being named Depth of Extinction is ironic since it’s too shallow. Scenarios in the overworld are repeated multiple times, and combat encounters suffer from few options. Individual maps may be rearranged slightly, but the layouts never hold enough secrets or variety for the player to feel like they’re having genuinely different encounters. Enemies feel like they spawn in the same places, even if the rooms are slightly rearranged.
Speaking of feeling too similar, many tactics games allow for characters of the same class to be built differently from each other in order to give the player a range of different skills and abilities. Depth doesn’t. Each sniper will get the same sniper abilities, each assault will get the same build, and so on. There’s just not enough character diversity on offer here.
The difficulty for this game is out of tune. For instance, there were multiple occasions when I took a low-level heavy character into a room without getting in cover, took multiple shots and only lost a small fraction of health — easily survivable and forgiving. On the other hand, attempting a side mission got my whole party wiped in short order. Also, fuel must be spent to travel between each area on the overworld, but fuel can be gathered nearly in every scenario or combat mission, negating the need to strategically manage it as a resource.
As a strange side note, Extinction has some issues with its aiming system — characters were frequently hit that should not have been hit — it should not be possible that my sniper can shoot through two walls and still hit an enemy, and vice versa. Not only does it mean that the game is improperly easier thanks to magic bullets, it also means that the basic mechanics are not working properly.
Depth of Extinction has a solid concept but suffers from repeated assets, uninspiring combat and questionable mechanics. With all the other tactics options on the market, I find it impossible to recommend this one.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by HOF Studios. It is currently available on Steam . This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Steam. Approximately 16 hours were spent in single player mode, and the game was not completed. This game includes no multiplayer.
Parents: This game is not currently rated by the ESRB but I’d say that it contains Mild Language and Violence. There is death depicted, and each body will fall into a small pool of pixelated blood. The enemies will also call the players characters B**** and B******, say D*** on occasion, but nothing too heinous. Teens and young adults should be fine with this game.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All necessary dialogue is delivered via text in boxes. Characters will have small audio utterances throughout each combat scenario, but nothing relevant to the story or to gameplay. Text is not resizable.
Remappable Controls: The game offers no remappable controls. There is no control diagram. Players will use the mouse to do essentially everything, can can use a keyboard for shortcuts or if they want to rename their characters.
While Sonic and Street Fighter were great places to start, his first love was Final Fantasy X when his dad bought a PS2. Ever since, that love for gaming has evolved -- there are a number of game worlds out there, and he intends to explore them all. RPG to horror, platformers to casual and everything in between -- if it’s available, he’ll play it.
While his time is short between writing reviews, tabletop gaming, and attempting to start a cheesecake business, he has caught all 806 pokemon and can speedrun Star Fox 64 in less than 40 minutes. He’s always looking for new things to try and new challenges to conquer. You can find him on Twitter -- @eugene_sax.