GAMETECH: Have fun rolling in the Deep

Song of the Deep

NOT enough games are set in the ocean, writes Ronan Jennings. (It adds a lot of depth.) 

Not enough games are set in Ireland, either, but Song of the Deep has both angles covered. It’s out next week and we can’t wait to play it.

Song of the Deep is made by Insomnia, the same development house that created Ratchet and Clank, Spyro the Dragon, and In Famous. A small team of 15 people, led by Brian Hastings, decided to create a game that reflected the positive characteristics of Hastings’ young daughter. He wanted to create a heroine with “intelligence, creativity, kindness, and resilience”, someone his daughter could admire.

The result was Merryn, a young girl living on the coast of Ireland who has grown up listening to her father’s tales about lost treasure, hidden cities, and giant sea-spiders at the bottom of the ocean floor. Merryn never believed any of those stories — until one day her father, a fisherman, is lost at sea and she goes out in search of him. (Maybe she should have checked the net first?) Merryn builds a makeshift submarine and her adventure to the bottom of the ocean begins.

Song of the Deep is a ‘metroidvania’ game, which means it’s a 2D platformer (like Mario) that places more of an emphasis on exploration, atmosphere, and finding new skills to progress than simply reaching the end of a level. In fact, Insomniac claim to have forsaken combat in favour of puzzle solving and discovering new secrets, which sounds great.

Hastings, who is also Insomniac’s chief creative officer, says the narrative was inspired by Irish folklore. The visuals, meanwhile, were influenced by the Cliffs of Moher. The overall aim was to make the game “like a children’s science museum on an alien planet”, a tagline that would sell us on any game, never mind a game with such rich Irish connections.

Song of the Deep is released on July 12 and should be well worth diving into.

MA-RIO 2016

Did someone mention diving? That must mean Portugal are still in Euro 2016. Even more diving will be done in Rio this summer, when swimming and, erm, diving are among the many sports on show. For now, we can pass the time playing Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which does feature swimming among its 14 events.

The other events include archery, boxing, beach volleyball, and BMX, along with rugby, football and table tennis. Golf was going to be included but Nintendo were afraid no one would show up to play it.

It goes without saying (although we will write it) that our heroes Mario and Sonic do not attempt a realistic portrayal of Olympian vigour here. This is a game in which Luigi rides a horse and Bowser does fancy gymnastics. In saying that, those are the very reasons you might be rushing out to buy a copy right now.

DEAD COOL

Pretty much everyone has taken a dive into virtual reality (VR), but we’re still waiting for that one must-have experience that will take it to the next level. In the meantime, there are plenty of cool projects to explore. Absolut and the musician Deadmau5, for example, have teamed up to create a VR video game and concert crossover that sounds pretty cool.

The game starts off with Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) inside his home and then changes into a video game, before finally changing back to a concert when players reach the end. The app will be available on all major platforms on July 17 and Deadmau5 will perform a live concert on the same day.

It’s pretty clear why Absolut picked Deadmau5 for this experiment — he’s a self-proclaimed gamer with a long history of love for the industry and a legion of tech-savvy fans to boot. Zimmerman has written music for PlayStation games, features in Diablo 3 and he even has a Space Invaders tattoo on his neck. Last year he started using the Twitch streaming platform too.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create my own VR gaming experience, especially when it meant I could bring a broad set of fans on an interactive journey alongside me, and share my music with them in a whole new way.” Dead cool, Deadmau5.


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