Deep Down. The mention of the name is beginning to take on the mystical air of games like Duke Nukem which languished in development hell with barely a murmur of an update on their progress. A game that once held so much promise has receded into the woodwork, and only the staunchest of hopeful fans have wondered about the fate of what was supposed to be a PS4 exclusive launch title. With 4 years gone by, what has happened to this once promising RPG? Let’s visit with the ghost of development past and see what time has done to Capcom’s Deep Down.
Announcement & First Looks
Capcom first announced Deep Down in conjunction with Sony’s PS4 reveal in February 2013 with the following trailer:
The trailer shows us a procedurally generate dungeon exploration experience that shares visual and gameplay similarities with Dragon’s Dogma and Dark Souls, and features a meta world future element like that in Assassin’s Creed. Though light in details overall, the video was enough to capture the attention of gamers who were enthusiastic for what the PS4 and its launch lineup would look like.
At TGS 2013, we were given this following extended look at the concept:
In this highly produced footage we are presented with some heady statements about time, all set to a very Dragon’s Dogma meets Final Fantasy musical backdrop. The touching of an artifact launches us into the medieval fantasy dungeon world, where some of the game’s baddies are shown in action as well as some weapon and item usage. For the first time, the game was shown in its playable form, further increasing the hype for eager gamers, especially fans of Dragon’s Dogma and Dark Souls who were hungry for another similar experience ahead of Dark Souls 2‘s 2014 release. We were so smitten that we put together a Most Wanted Preview for it.
2014 arrived with some more promising looks at the game like this prologue trailer which showed one of the game’s deadly mimic chests in action:
As many expected, E3 2014 brought a new look at the game :
In this trailer the game’s time displacement concepts are further reinforced as there are strong hints that something is to be learned in the medieval simulation that will be relevant to the game’s present. At this point however, the cracks begin to show, as much of the trailer features a lot of the same assets and environments from past videos. But none of us cared, as the game still looked awesome and the music rocked as usual.
Later in the year, the following trailer was released at TGS 2014:
This trailer showed much more of the gameplay perspective which further reinforced its Dark Souls inspiration. The medieval setting was shown to be the year 1494, and then we are pulled back to the game’s present, which is set in the year 2094. Disconnecting from the animus like device, we are given a tour of what life is like in 2094 before we are thrust back into the simulation to take on a variety of different beasts and traps while donning our best weapons and armor. We are then given our first look at the multiplayer in the game, which shows up to 4 players fighting side by side. In all the trailer showed an impressive amount of content, and certainly enough to assume that this was a game in advanced development stages.
The Well Runs Dry
Sadly, that is the last footage we’ve seen of Deep Down in action. The game was announced to be a free to play title, set to launch in 2014 that coincided with a public beta in Japan. The beta never happened, 2014 rolled on without any word and the game began to drift into the recesses of gaming consciousness.
Bits and blurbs from media inquiries during 2014 and 2015 gave only vague reassurances that the game was still in development and progressing towards release. In early 2015, the team conceded that 2 things were at play in the game’s development delays. First, the vision for the game had expanded significantly since it’s reveal. In an attempt to better appeal to players, the timeline for the game had been extended. Secondly, they conceded that there were hurdles in developing for the current generation of consoles. Since the game was initially a last gen experience the adaptation had been slower than anticipated, and other areas like servers and the game’s new engine were additional considerations that conspired to bog down the game’s development.
That is the last we’ve heard about the game, and at all subsequent conventions when we’ve approached Capcom to inquire about the status of the game, we get the same canned response of “we have no news to share about the game at this time”, almost to the point of annoyance. All we’ve had of looks at the game beyond the trailers are some screenshots:
Where Are We Now?
Nearly 2 years have gone since that final communication and what the game’s present status is remains a complete unknown. The game could be content complete, ready for a beta, completely back to the initial conceptual stages or somewhere in between. It’s really anybody’s guess at this point. The most recent tweet from the official Deep Down account is dated March 23, 2015, and you have to go back to December of 2014 to find anything even directly related to the game. It’s safe to say the game has entered the dark zone known as development hell.
Our last beacon of hope was an August 2016 request for extension of the Deep Down trademark by Capcom that was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The extension runs through February 9th, 2017 at which point Capcom must present a statement of use for the trademark. This is the fifth and final extension of the sort granted by the office, so failure to deliver on anything demonstrative of development will result in the trademark expiring, an effective death for the title.
Although our glimpses of Deep Down are not exactly extensive, this is not a game we are prepared to let die such an ignominious death. Games like Dark Souls and Dragon’s Dogma are singular experiences and Deep Down teased the potential of both enormously popular franchises. Although the delay has been so severe that a death knell would not come with the same reaction of a game like Scalebound, news of Deep Down’s cancellation would be unfortunate nonetheless. The issues it remains mired in are a sordid part of game development that we all wish could be avoided. We’re crossing our fingers that the game isn’t stuck in the past, but that we’re also not waiting until 2094.
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