Review: Depth of Extinction (PC)

Careful, some pixels in here don't react too well to bullets...

Developer: HOF Studios

Publisher: HOF Studios

Platform: PC

Genre: Turn-Based Tactics

Price: $19.99

In the future, humanity is hanging on to survival by living in submarines and on platforms built above the rising ocean tides. And then, the killer machines showed up. Depth of Extinction is a turn-based squad tactics game that sees you fighting back against deadly androids and murderous pirates as you navigate the deadly waters. Playing like a cross between X-Com and FTL, this pixelated tactics game packs some serious punch.

Content Guide

Violence: Blood will splatter in modest amounts when characters or enemies are shot; oil will splatter if it’s an android enemy. Attacks can happen with a number of conventional guns as well as laser rifles, spear guns, grenades, and specialty ammo that does extra damage. Dead enemies and allies persist on screen.

Language: Whenever you give a squad member an order, they will either say a small audio quip or have a small text appear above their heads as a response. One possible written text response includes d**n, but rarely occurred.

Other Content: One of the random events in the game is coming across a slaver ship. Players can do nothing, attack, or barter with the slavers. Bartering allows players to purchase new squad mates.

You got a bit of red on you…

Review

Depth of Extinction imagines a dismal post-apocalyptic future that is somewhere between Mad Max and Waterworld, with a little Terminator thrown in. In this pixel graphics game, players will take squads of 2-4 characters on missions as they advance their skills and try to deal with an impending threat in the form of powerful androids with murder on their cybernetic minds. Each mission starts with you choosing a submarine and squad, including hiring some mercenaries if you need help rounding out your numbers. This is a boon early on in the game when you have little to no armor or weapons. After you launch the mission you will be faced with a smattering of waypoints that interconnect in different ways; each one holds a possible random event, vendor, or side mission that can be attempted in different ways or just ignored.  You can’t ignore all of them however, as each time you go to a different point it costs you fuel.

Once your squad’s boots are on dry platform it plays much like any other turn-based squad game: you can move, take cover, get in firefights, and if you are not careful, die rather easily on missions above the “Easy” level. Depths isn’t messing around. It also has some nice touches which you wouldn’t expect for a pixel graphics game, such as being able to flush out enemies by targeting their cover. If you destroy the cover they are hunkered behind, your percent chance to hit them will increase drastically. Depths also has a system where if you’ve finished your objective and killed the last enemy in a given area, you can automatically return to your sub with the click of a button. This forgoes any further exploration and you’ll lose any loot that is on the ground, but it’s nice being able to jump back to your sub instead of having to click along and get four characters across the entire randomly generated map.

Stacking up for our next move. Characters will crouch and lean into cover automatically.

The RPG elements in Depths are enjoyable, and as you gain experience points you can unlock specialized classes for each character as well as put points into different skills. Having a squad with a well-rounded skill set is helpful in taking down harder missions or large groups of enemies. Depths also encourages you to take on side missions by occasionally including new classes as part of the mission reward.

Besides the pirates, slavers, and killer androids, not all is perfect in Depths of Extinction. While most of the animations are fine, I have to point out how dumb each character looks every time they run. Their legs only animate as a walk, but since the characters sprint across the room it looks like everyone is walk-sprinting in fast forward. I also got frustrated that there is no mid-mission save, so if you need to step away from the game but already launched a mission you have to do it all over again. Auto-saves are fine, but I see no reason for not having a save-anywhere feature. Lastly, I really like tinkering with my squad’s loadouts in games like this, but in Depths you can’t access the loadout screen unless you have launched a mission, which doesn’t make sense to me.

The difficulty of the different missions in Depths jumps up significantly between even “easy” and “medium.”  On easy, I never lost a squadmate, and mostly steamrolled any enemies that came my way. Medium has you taking on tougher enemies in larger groups, and without utilizing your team’s skills and the game’s mechanics you may be dead in the water. On many different occasions I was able to survive by the skin of my teeth with careful planning and using the “Overwatch” mechanic, where a character makes either a shorter move or no move at all in exchange for firing upon the first enemy that moves into their line of sight. The permanent death of your squadmates (unless you have skills or items to revive them) can make the shootouts feel tense as you try to maneuver for position without exposing a flank. I recall one particular shootout with a tough scavenger mini boss, where he kept shotgunning my cover to pieces and nearly killed my sniper. The difficulty increase puts the pressure on in a way that I enjoyed, but I could see how it might be a negative to some players.

Overall I found Depths of Extinction to be an enjoyable game, despite my concerns. If you’ve been looking for something to scratch that FTL or X-Com itch, or just really enjoy tactical squad shooters, I would check this one out. Just watch out for the deadly androids.

Review code generously provided by Novy Unlimited.

The Bottom Line

Depth of Extinction is a solid turn-based tactic game. You can choose your squad makeup and make decisions based on your play style and what you think you can survive. As long as the pixels and difficulty level don't deter you, there's a solid game that rewards tactics and squad play.

 

7.5

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Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.

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