Publisher: The Game Equation
Developer: The Game Equation
Requirements: Windows or Mac OS X
Release Date: March 2010
It’s been a few years since the events of Deep Blue Sea. Jessica, the former advertising executive turned treasure hunter, has disappeared. Her younger sister, Melissa, receives a worn postcard with a note in Jessica’s handwriting, written in the secret code that the sisters invented when they were young. The note tells Melissa to go to Billinger Island, which is where the search for her sister – and her own adventure – begins.
Deep Blue Sea 2 is an interesting combination of two casual genres. It features more than 200 Match 3 levels and more than 60 hidden-object puzzles in three unique locations. You start with just Melissa, but other divers join your team as you progress through the game. You can change divers between levels; the diver you use gains 200 to 600 experience points per dive, depending on how many artifacts you find. As they gain experience, the divers unlock special abilities that can be used in addition to the power-ups you carry on your dives. For example, Melissa starts with the ability to switch two adjacent tiles, even if it doesn’t result in a match. When she gets enough experience to get to the fourth level, she can switch two tiles up to two squares apart in any direction. These abilities recharge over time, so they can be used several times during a level.
In addition to this, you find coins as you play that go into your treasure chest. You can use these coins to buy additional power-ups to take on your dives (such as dynamite, which destroys a 3×3 grid of tiles), larger chests to hold your treasure, upgrades that let you rotate the playing field more frequently, tool belts with more pouches so you can carry more power-ups, and more. Every five levels or so, you get a timed hidden-objects level. If you succeed, you earn free power-ups in addition to whatever you might have purchased.
I was pleasantly surprised by pretty much everything about this game. None of the hidden-object levels in the press demo were essential to advancing the plot, so it felt to me like they were tacked on merely to extend gameplay and to give you a chance to get free power-ups when you are broke. However, I must point out that this was merely a press demo, and only contained about five percent of the actual game levels. As for the rest of the game, well, I’ve been hooked on Match 3 games ever since Bejeweled, and I still am. But the power-ups and the ability to rotate the board add a level of complexity that enhances the gameplay, and the way your divers gain experience adds just a touch of that roleplaying feel. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the game when it is released later this month.