Deep Sea is a game about being vulnerable.
In this audio-only game, players don a mask that obscures their vision and takes over their hearing, plunging them into a world of blackness occupied only by the sound of their own breathing and the rumbles made by unseen terrors.
Survival means the careful tracking of a liquid constellation of alien sounds, requiring the player to focus intently to the point of suppressing their own breathing, further reinforcing the sensation of claustrophic isolation. The player aims, fires their weapon and hopes to hear the creature cry out in pain, but more often than not the sound they hear is their shot disappearing uselessly into the void.
The sense of being surrounded by invisible dangers is reinforced by the reality of playing the game in a public space, with the player knowing that all around are people they can neither hear nor see. At the same time spectators can watch the gyrations of the player’s body and hear their voice but have no access to the world the player is experiencing, and so remain helpless to rescue the player from their watery fate.
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Want more games like this?
Check out Robin Arnott’s follow-up to Deep Sea, SoundSelf.
Where is Deep Sea now?
Playable by request at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment in Oakland, CA, or by finding me in Austin, TX. Follow my twitter feed (@ragamesound) for updates.
You can find instructions for making your own mask, along with a free download of the Deep Sea software for Mac on Tech Hive.
Awards and History
Game and Sound Design by Robin Arnott.
Music by Duncan Watt.
Made possible by the NYU Game Center.
Special thanks to Andrea Moya, Sean Stogner, Charles Pratt, Frank Lantz, Bonita Engel, Jean-Marc Gauthier, Janet Jay, and the many testers without whom this game would not function.