Freediver: Triton Down worked when it really shouldn’t have.
The cramped confines of its steadily sinking vessel threatened to confuse and frustrate, but its brief length and atmospheric design instead made it something of a snackable treat. Freediver: Triton Down Extended Cut, meanwhile, turns in some inevitable concessions that make this version a step down from the original, even with its new content weighing in.
Much of what made the original PC VR game great is still intact here, but the changes made to cram Freediver onto less powerful hardware tip the scales back towards an often murkier and sometimes less palatable experience. It’s opening ocean segment, for example, rids itself of the vibrant corals and clusters of fish that gave the PC iteration of the same section so much life.
Plus the original’s wrist-mounted glowsticks, which lit your way forward with a convenient and appropriately haunting green shade, have been traded in for a far less dynamic and much more fidgety flashlight. It means you’ll spend a lot more time submerged in darkness, which instantly makes Triton a less interesting game to simply exist in.
When you make it to the bulk of the game, in which you try to escape your ship as it descends further into the depths, you’ll instantly notice missing features. The violent bursts of underwater flames that once littered the corridors have now completely vanished and the surface of the water is no longer a convincing translucent color but a strange tinge of solid blue. Weirder still, it refuses to acknowledge contact with walls and surfaces, as if it’s cut right through them.
Perhaps by way of a make up, there is a little ‘more’ to this version of Freediver (hence the ‘Extended Cut’). For the most part it’s blink and you’ll miss it stuff, like the two extra puzzles in the beginning segment that do little other than to pad out the game’s still-slender run time. Slim, too, are the attempts to expand on the story with a few spare lines of leftover dialogue and an equally meagre addition to the game’s ending. But there are some more thrilling and explosive sequences added to its main section too.
Not everything works (roadbump spoiler: when you come to a nearly-closed gate just push the damn thing over instead of swimming back and forth for half an hour wondering what to do) and one addition only serves to replace one of the original game’s more exciting sequences. It definitely carries the tone of an Extended Cut; extra content that doesn’t radically enhance the experience, but it is at the very least nice to see a bit more of it.
There is, however, still a lot to like about Freediver. The control scheme remains winningly intuitive (although the new Touch’s upward tracking rings will struggle if you try to realistically twist your arms), for example.
The Extended Cut doesn’t carry the same ironic gust of fresh air its predecessor did, but it remains an engaging exercise in the VR short story; a game that doesn’t feel the need to tie itself down to the repetitive tropes of the industry at large, and suggests there’s perhaps an expanded audience to address. It remains a hopeful beacon for VR experiences that don’t require hours of your time to see through. Triton Down isn’t always successful in that experiment, but you can’t escape suspicion it’s swimming up the right tree.
Freediver: Triton Down Extended Cut Quest Review Final Impressions
The original version of Freediver: Triton Down overcame the odds to deliver an effective piece of claustrophobic VR. Some unavoidable concessions hold this Extended Cut back from being quite the same success story, hampering the original’s tone and atmosphere somewhat. Some of the new content goes a little way to making up for that, though not so far as to make this the best version of the game. You should still play Freediver but, if you have a PC powerful enough, take the age old lesson: less is more.
Final Score: 3/5 Stars | Pretty Good
Freediver: Triton Down Extended Cut is available now on Oculus Quest and PSVR for $14.99. For more information about how we arrived at this score, check out our review guidelines.
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