It’s the original Resident Evil… but under the sea! Down where it’s wetter. Down where it’s full of mutated zombie people.
Deep Fear is definitely a product of its time. This game was released for the Saturn in Japan and in Europe (where it was the final Saturn title), but never in the States. Not a difficult game to play as an import title though, as the spoken dialogue is all in English and it’s not so hard to work out the menus. This is the Saturn’s attempt at the survival horror genre, and suffice to say it hasn’t aged well. But if you’re willing to pretend you’re back in the 90’s, maybe there’s an interesting experience to be had here?
Well… it’s certainly an experience. It is not an easy matter, putting into words what it feels like to play this game. Let’s start with the obvious: the voice acting. Think of the worst voice acting you have ever heard in a video game. Okay, you ready for me to drop a bombshell? Deep Fear is worse. It’s so awful, it’s sublime. I love it. I hate it. I want to live. I want to die.
Deep Fear is one of the most surreal games you will never play. There’s basically no music in the game. The sound effects and enemy moans are all really muffled and bad quality. The graphics are just barely good enough to make all the characters look like wax dolls, throwing us smack-dab in Act 2 of the Uncanny Valley Zone. And the graphics are just barely bad enough that nobody moves in a way that feels natural at all, and yet the game developers were clearly attempting to make cutscenes that have characters interacting the way they would in a (really, really bad) movie. It’s all so wonderfully terrifying if you stop to think about it. Do NOT stop to think about it. Just… let Deep Fear envelope you. You must soak in Deep Fear. Deep down, you fear it. Deep Fear. Is you.
The gameplay!!!!! It’s Resident Evil. You are a combat force dude who has to deal with the chaos of a The Last of Us scenario in an underwater research facility. The enemies (which admittedly have some interesting designs… basically, think of that kid who sat next to you in high school, who was a pretty decent artist and would doodle weird parasite monster people in the margins of his notebook–those became the creatures in Deep Fear) are easy to take down, but because you are under water you have to worry about the amount of oxygen in every room you go into. Yeah, the biggest enemy in the game is asphyxiation. So that’s kind of a way to build tension? The fear of that big number in the top right corner reaching zero. Then again, I think I feared the loading times more.
I didn’t really enjoy playing this game, I’ll go ahead and be honest. I think the game was made a bit too soon, and would have fared much better on the Dreamcast. But it was an interesting attempt? It’s nice that you can assign items to specific buttons to use immediately. And it’s nice that you can aim and fire while you walk and run. But it’s not a fun game to play, and it’s definitely not scary. The most memorable thing here by far is the voice acting. So… watch some clips on Youtube? It’s a freaking trip.