Score lots of booty in this exquisite under the sea adventure.
The Deep is a cross between Super Metroid and Jaws on the NES, an interesting combination that makes it one of the iPhone's most engaging apps. You play a boring company man turned undersea adventurer, scouring the ocean floor in search of treasure and various items. Featuring a wide cast of enemies, plenty of upgrades and attractive 2-D graphics, it's a steal at $3.99.
For the most part, The Deep includes a series of fetch quests that involve finding keys, a pirate's watch and other goodies, the goal to turn them in for cash or unlock doors leading to new locations. This involves investigating a wide array of locations, including a sunken ship, an Aztec temple and underwater caves, where plenty of surprises (like treasure chests) await.
Two things stand between the game's hero and untold riches: his oxygen supply, and a wide array of enemies. The former (think of it as the diver's life bar) continuously depletes while underwater, and will automatically replenish after reaching the surface. As for enemies, they come in all shapes in sizes, including dangerous jellyfish, man-eating sharks, undead pirates and even Aztec statues. Take damage, and the oxygen level plunges, not good with the surface so very far away.
Fortunately, you'll find hidden items that'll help you on the quest, like a flashlight that illuminates the murky depths. In addition, you can exchange cash for upgrades that'll increase the size of the oxygen tank, lessen damage and make the hero quicker, so there's a great incentive to finding as many treasure chests as possible.
On the downside, some characters repeat the same lines, and our left thumb hurt from constantly manipulating the on-screen analog stick, but that's an issue that crops up in other games.
Most of the fun comes from accessing hidden chambers and making discoveries, similar to the Metroid series. But we were also impressed with The Deep's marvelous presentation. First, the 2-D visuals look outstanding. 3G Studios did excellent work animating not only the diver, but also the cast of critters. Then you have the environments, which sport plenty of detail; we love how the water becomes darker the more you descend. It's without question one of the iPhone's best looking games. Finally, there's the wonderful soundtrack, a collection of dramatic, happy and seafaring tunes that add depth to the proceedings.
All of this makes The Deep one of the App Store's biggest surprises. The game's length (over 40 levels), secrets and graphics make it a must buy, especially for an affordable $3.99. So strap on the scuba gear and prepare to dive. This one's special.
What's Hot: Imaginative and tropical locales, plenty of enemies, different items to find, lots of secrets, excellent 2-D graphics, lively music.
What's Not: Repeatedly sliding our fingers across the screen to swim hurts after a while, characters repeat lines.