When the PlayStation 4 was introduced back in February 2013, Capcom revealed an all-new property, Deep Down, that looked to capitalize on the success of From Software’s Souls series. Using a new proprietary engine called “Panta Rhei,” the game’s visual style and attention to detail were undeniably impressive, and its reported focus on scripted, high-energy cinematic moments made Deep Down look more like a “popcorn” game that broke the slow and methodical mold built by other dungeon crawlers. A Matrix-like messaging system and the sound of a helicopter rotor at the end of the trailer suggested the game would be set in a world that featured both fantastical elements and modern technology.
It has been almost four years since that trailer was first shown, and Capcom has still not indicated that Deep Down – assuming that is the final title – is any closer to release than when we first saw it. The publisher hasn’t even given the game an official update in more than two years, even as other large AAA games, such as Street Fighter V and Resident Evil 7, have been announced, completed, and shipped. But every so often, the Deep Down project has shown signs of life. We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to play it (or at least hear more about it) sooner rather than later. For now, we’ve compiled everything we know about the game so far.
The game will be “completely different” from what Capcom has shown
Deep Down’s initial trailer had us enthusiastic to explore Capcom’s dark, mysterious take on swords and sorcery, but eager fans shouldn’t get too excited about playing that particular version of the game. Two years after Deep Down was officially announced, Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono told Japanese website 4Gamer, in an interview translated by Siliconera, that the game would be substantially different from what we had previously seen.
“It looks like Deep Down will just take a little longer,” Ono said in 2015. “It also looks some people are starting to ask, ‘Did development come to a halt?’ But it’s nothing like that. We’re thinking about showing something that looks completely different from what was previously shown, although it might be a while from now. The ideas we have for the game is much larger now compared to when we first announced it. Rather, the ideas we had before might not have been good enough.”
Ono also said that Capcom wanted to make sure the game could have lasting appeal due to the deep integration of its online components, and that the company had “concerns about it not being able to capture an audience as [it] would’ve liked.”
Capcom’s seemingly similar fantasy themed action-RPG Dragon’s Dogma, sold more than 2 million copies thus to date, and the free-to-play, Japan-only Dragon’s Dogma Online attracted more than a million players in less than two weeks. Based on reports about the game, Deep Down‘s online component may focus more on cooperative play, with four players teaming up to take down powerful enemies.
It will be free-to-play
In September, 2013, Capcom announced that Deep Down would be built around the then-burgeoning free-to-play business model, rather than the traditional $60 “premium” pricing.
In a 2013 developer interview posted on the Capcom website, Yoshinori Ono gave more background on its pricing structure. The base game will be provided for free, but “additional items” and “other game content” will be locked behind a paywall.
“I don’t think the emergence of add-on DLC was something that came about suddenly. It has just merely become easier to distribute additional elements and content on the computer system level,” Ono added. “Basically, we’re seeing the new form of something that has existed all along.”
Fast forward to 2015, and this strategy appeared to remain the same. In an annual report published by Capcom, the company stated that it wanted users to enjoy Deep Down “first as a free-to-play game, then as a premium game.” The report also called the game a “litmus test” for the free-to-play model, suggesting that other franchises could adopt it in the future based on Deep Down’s success.
If and when Deep Down hits retail platforms, it won’t be the first free-to-play Soulslike: Grasshopper Manufacture’s Let it Die launched in December, 2016, to a mostly positive critical reception.
It’s one of the most technically impressive games from Capcom to date
Though Deep Down’s initial announcement footage might no longer be representative of the final product, Capcom is extremely confident in the technology behind the game. In its 2014 annual report, the company said that Deep Down would have “the highest quality graphics of any PS4 game.”
“The texture and rust of the player’s armor, the flames shooting out of the dragon’s mouth, and even the way light Is reflected are all rendered in a strikingly realistic fashion,” the company said.
Capcom pointed to the game’s flame and water animations, which make use of particle effects “rather than processed images,” as well as the procedurally generated dungeons, which provide a different adventure for each player. Capcom refers to the game as a “reading RPG” and says that players use memories in order to solve the game’s riddles – it sounds quite a bit like Assassin’s Creed, and this element seems to have been teased with the helicopter noises heard in the game’s first trailer. A trailer created for the 2014 Tokyo Game Show confirmed these suspicions, with two different time periods shown on-screen: 1494 and 2094. Producer Yoshinori Ono also said in late 2013 that the game’s futuristic setting would be in New York City, with the “memories” trapped inside monuments. The 15th century component, meanwhile, will apparently be in the Czech Republic.
Maybe it will be called “Deep Down” after all…
Though it’s been two years since Capcom gave any sort of public update on Deep Down’s development progress, or even confirmed whether or not the game was still in the works, some eagle-eyed fans have discovered that the publisher hasn’t given up on the game quite yet. Capcom renewed its U.S. trademark on the title Deep Down in February, 2016, and filed to renew the trademark again in February, 2017. Publishers often renew these trademarks for no other reason than to ensure that another company cannot poach the name, but Capcom has done so for the last two years, each time using the game’s supposed “working title” of Deep Down.
Capcom could certainly still change the game’s title later, but the renewal suggests that it could move forward with Deep Down as the game’s final title. This would seem to fall in line with the similarly alliterative Dragon’s Dogma, which also sports fantasy combat as well as online functionality.