Capcom and SCE Studio Japan’s next-gen dungeon crawler, Deep Down, received a good deal of attention when it was shown off during last February’s PlayStation event. The game appeared to be a Dark Soul’s-esque dark fantasy game, bringing memories of Capcom’s challenging Dragon’s Dogma to mind. Capcom is remaining quiet about a Western release for the PlayStation 4 title, but after a hands-on session with the game at the Tokyo Game Show, we’re hoping the publisher confirms a stateside release soon.
Update: Sony announced at TGS that Deep Down is free-to-play.
These are five important and exciting things we learned more about playing Deep Down:
It's Set In The Future
Deep Down take place in New York during the year 2094. Players are teleported back in time by touching magical artifacts. This is one of the more surprising recent revelations, considering the public saw Deep Down as having more in common with Dark Souls or Dragon’ Dogma rather than Assassin’s Creed’s time-skipping storyline. Considering New York’s civilized roots don’t extend to the era of knights, we’re curious to see how Capcom stitches their vision of a distant New York together with the dugeon-crawling fantasy.
Combat Is Methodical
The aforementioned comparisons to Dark Souls are apt when discussing Deep Down’s combat. Battling the big, club-wielding ogres in the depths of the dungeons has a certain weight to it. Winding up to swing your javelin at foes requires a lengthy animation to complete, leaving you vulnerable to an attack. A short backwards dodge is available to evade incoming attacks. While we weren’t able to use a shield during the demo, a knight can be seen carrying on during the co-op demo, leading us to believe players are able to block.
One area where Deep Down appears snappier than other swordplay-centric third-person action games is with aimed attacks. Holding the left trigger brings up a reticle, allowing precise javelin pikes at arrow-shooting statues, pots holding experience or items, and enemies. Aiming a thrust at an ogre’s knee causes it to stumble and opens it up for a devastating attack. Several special attacks like a charging javelin stab or wide slash let you deal big damage. These special abilities require you to spend resources that can be replenished by destroying pottery, opening chests, and killing enemies. Unlike Dark Souls, the hero of Deep Down can take a beating. However, death may have been disabled for the purposes of this TGS demo. We’ll have to wait until we see more to determine the lethality of combat.
It Supports Four-Player Co-op
Capcom showed off four players battling in a dungeon together during an onscreen demonstration. The knights plot through a corridor, only to back out when it’s flooded with flames. After the fires die down they pass through into a huge open area with a giant dragon waiting for them. The four heroes circle around the behemoth, tossing combustible, grenade-like magic vessels at it and stealing a few javelin jabs here and there. The dragon spits fire and stirs up swirling vortexes of debris and flame. One player activates the ability to freeze time, stopping the dragon and his allies in their tracks. Each individual tongue of flame remains still as the player circles around the beast. This John Woo-style imagery is an impressive display of the PlayStation 4’s next-gen capabilities. The four knights end the encounter by tossing a volley of magical bombs at their scaled foe.
Dungeons Are Procedurally Generated
Trudging into a dark dungeon packed with angry ogres is intimidating enough, but on top of that Deep Down’s locales shift with every visit. Sometimes the floor gives out from underneath you after the first few steps, dropping you into a pit with an enemy. In the case of our playthrough, the area is littered with arrow-shooting statues, gangs of cave troll-like brutes, and hidden passages. The spherical, projectile-shooting statues can be destroyed with a quick javelin jab. Suspect walls can be investigated to reveal rooms containing treasure chests. The architecture is composed of right angles, leading to blind turns into groups of enemies or traps that spout flames in your face. Other times you may discover a glowing relic on a wall that teleports you to a room filled with treasure. The dreary, isolated vibe of the dungeons remains constant despite the varying layouts. If you get lost, touching the DualShock 4’s touchpad brings up a fancy 3D map for easy navigation.
The Next-Gen Visuals Are Gorgeous
The PlayStation 4 and Capcom’s Panta Rhei engine combine to impressive results in the Deep Down demo. The meticulously detailed knight’s armor and grotesque ogres show off the system’s capabilities. The fire effects produced by the angry dragon are particularly eye catching. The lighting engine is accurate and fosters a more immersive experience when exploring the dangerous tunnels. At one point, an ogre lurches from the shadows, passing underneath a small window above. In this brief moment the overhead light realistically splashes across the creature’s pale flesh before it dips back into the shadows again to lunge at me. This may be a subtle example of Panta Rhei’s power when compared to the torrents of fire or pretty particle effects, but it stuck with me.
I learned a lot about Deep Down during my hands-on time, but we’re still left with a lot of questions. How does your character get stronger? Is there a gear system? What is the link between future New York and the time of swords and dragons? These questions are nagging, but the big one is whether Deep Down will make it stateside. Considering the resources Capcom has poured into its impressive new engine, consumers' hunger for new next-gen titles, and the fact that all the recorded dialogue in the demo is spoken in English, it’s highly likely we’ll hear about an American release sometime in the near future.