It’s fairly common in games to play the part of the courageous star ship captain, leading a highly trained crew of an advanced Star Ship to face the unknown, save planets and discover new species and technology. This is where Deep Sixed is different. You’re not a Star Ship Captain, you don’t have any crew except for a slightly wonky AI, and your ship is little more than a rickety bucket of bolts scarcely holding together. Welcome to Deep Sixed, developed and published by Little Red Dog Games Inc.
Basically, there’s a large powerful corporation that’s interested in charting a large nebula at the other end of the galaxy. They had a meeting about it all and realised that experienced space-farers and adventurers are actually really expensive and hiring too many of them could really damage their bottom-line. Then some smart guy in Finance, let’s call him Brian, realised that convicts and other ne’er-do-wells could do it instead, saving them a crap-load of money.
In Deep Sixed you play as one of these new space-farers, working off the rest of her sentence as an involuntary stellar cartographer for this corporation. She’s been given a small spacecraft, with a scanner and a rather basic AI unit and has been given the task of mapping as much of what she finds as possible and reporting back.
Before you head out into deep space, by way of your Hyper drive unit, you’ll need to choose a mission from your computer. These vary of course, some are about scanning or gathering minerals, others about finding and killing local fauna, some missions simply need you to retrieve certain objects. The missions are fairly basic, but remember you’re going to have a very wayward ship making everything difficult for you.
Deep Sixed is all about your engineering skills. Your ship is going to break, often and without warning. These issues are not fixed by simply pushing a button; each issue is fixed in a specific way. It’s also worth noting that unless you play on easy mode, you are stuck with your choices, saving is upon exiting the game, and that’s it. So, you’re stuck with everything you haven’t fixed. It almost goes without saying that perma-death is also a thing. If you die in space, nothing is carried over in to your new game, except the knowledge you picked up in all your previous attempts which should help you avoid it in the future.
So, let’s move on to the whole engineering aspect, and how it works. At any point during a mission, problems can arise with your systems, or which there are many. Your targeting systems may show an asteroid as a goldfish, cabin temperature can increase software glitches and Driver issues may knock out your scanner software. There are far too many to list here, but needless to say pretty much any part of your ship can break, and each breakage has a number of possible causes and therefore a different number of fixes.
You’re not entirely on your own. Luckily there is a fairly extensive troubleshooting guide built into the game for you, which directs you how to fix each problem. Though nothing quite prepares you for when the proverbial starts hitting the fan.
For example my first mission gave me relatively few issues, a power outage in viewing room 4 and a targeting driver issue, which just needed me to suspend and re-enable the targeting drivers. My second mission was a little more fraught with peril.
It started off simply enough with an asteroid that I failed to shoot down which cracked my view screen in Viewing Room 1. This was quickly solved with the application of duct tape. No sooner had that finished that COS started to pour through the vents. I checked the troubleshooting guide and headed off to the power room. No luck fixing it there, but soon found Viewing Room 5 on fire. It wasn’t a small fire so a fire extinguisher wouldn’t cut it; I had to decompress the entire room to put out the fire. When I returned the room was practically unusable.
Returning back to the mission or simply scanning some new minerals, I started to spin rapidly. The thrusters were off and I was spinning wildly, before I had chance to fix this. The vents in the power room malfunctioned and the Power room was becoming a radioactive waste ground. Fixing the vent and thrusters as quickly as I could, I got back to viewing room 3 to find that room now engulfed in flame. One more decompression later, and one fewer viewing room to use. I finally finished my mission and could Hyperdrive home.
When I got back, I didn’t have the parts or credits to fix the two burnt out viewing rooms, but at least I got my viewing screen fixed. The next mission should be interesting.
This is the type of thing, you learn to expect. Missions can really go very badly with no notice, but at least I made it back alive. The difficulty curve is pretty extreme, but for the most part it’s enjoyable. There still is the odd bug and glitch, but so far I haven’t found these to be game-breaking.
The basis of Deep Sixed is to try, fail and try again but this can be frustrating when you die after achieving so much, but that is the name of the game, and there is not much hand holding, and issues come at you thick and fast.
Deep Sixed by Little Red Dog Games is currently around a tenner on Steam, and I think it’s worth a go. But don’t take my word for it, if you’re a fan of challenging games and you have a spare ten pounds, it might be just what you need.