Reveal the Deep, by Scottish developers Lazy Monday Games, is a genuinely terrifying exploration game where you take the place of a deep-sea diver exploring the sunken wreck of the SS Euridice all the way at the bottom of the ocean. This game is dark, claustrophobic, and one of the best horror experiences I’ve played on steam in quite a while. This review contains a few minor spoilers that might ruin the atmosphere for you, so if you’re interested in Reveal the Deep do yourself a favour and pick it up on steam for $0.99.

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I went into the game on a dark night. My speakers immediately flooded my room with a dark and low deep-sea ambience, and my monitors relayed little more than small pixelated deep-sea diver sprite and a few feet of vaguely lit shipwreck ahead of me. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to think. The game toyed with me, presenting me with a horrifying, desolate and lifeless setting depicted through cutesy retro pixel-art goggles. So, as any well-designed horror game should intend, I progressed through the shipwreck cradled in a false sense of security.

Before the atmosphere deeply intensified, I was introduced to a puzzle. The puzzles in Reveal the Deep are as simple as you’d expect, usually involving a little environment manipulation to progress through each level. However, indicative of the final scene in Titanic, occasionally when the player turns their helmet-mounted flashlight off, a ghostly image of the ship pre-wreck can be seen, allowing a variety of once-collapsed pathways to be traversed and also allowing the player to read a variety of diary entries from before the ship sunk.

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About as Lovecraftian as it gets, these diary entries describe that, before being wrecked, the ship was being used to transport a mysterious cargo of abnormal artifacts from a long dead civilization. In the continued spirit of Lovecraft, this deeply mysterious cargo still inhabits the ship, evasively pursuing the player through the dark flooded corridors, all the while remaining relatively unseen. After an appropriate amount of time of masterful pacing, I was finally confronted with one of the creatures. Rather than running and attacking the player, as you’d expect, the mass of black slime sat silently behind a crack in the wall, its glowing eyes assuring me of its presence. My curiosity compelled me to approach, rather than being forced to in a scripted cutscene, making the sudden contact with the creature a massively more frightening experience contrasted with the otherwise low-key and dark tone. I felt in control of my own fate, and all at the same time at the mercy of the game – needless to say that this stage, I had to quit the game and take a quick break.

I can sing songs of praise for hours about Reveal the Deep, but it certainly is not without it’s faults. Occasionally – especially while climbing ladders and attempting to direct the deep-sea diver while jumping, the controls can be particularly unresponsive. In one instance, I had to take an extremely long backtracking route around the ship as a result of not being able to jump up off of a ladder onto the platform above.

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While navigating the sunken ruins of the SS Euridice I also felt frequently lost, never being given a chance to properly get my bearings and feel confident as to where I was in the ship. The game sent me down various routes I thought were pointless dead ends, however a series of slight atmospheric changes in the environment and an ultimate progression through the level assured me that I wasn’t just stuck. All of this contributed to the massive atmosphere and the ongoing theme of futility that made Reveal the Deep such a great title.

But, as the puzzles became more developed that the purple-slime monsters a lot more frequent, I felt as though a lot of the previously thick tension had entirely dissipated. Although, Reveal the Deep would often catch me off guard with a subtle scare or with a few notes that developed the game’s mysterious narrative.

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Either way, if you’re a big fan of horror (especially of the Lovecraftian category), you’d be betraying yourself not to give Reveal the Deep a chance. It’s a short but sweet explorative horror title with an entertainment value much higher than the game’s cost.