Knee Deep is a title that is broken up into episodes, and the story gets off to a really strong start that the later portions fail to fully live up to. There is a very cool mystery at the heart of this story, with interesting characters and an engaging setting. However, the title is unpolished in places and the VR is a nice touch but hardly essential to the experience.
This is one of those instances where I don't know that virtual reality really brings all that much to the table. The user interface carries over well, but this is a gamepad game with visuals that pop more - but the graphics themselves are really not all that impressive, which keeps this from being a showcase VR title.
The setting in a swampy Florida town works well however, with moody lighting and a pulpy style to the entire package as our story centers on an actor who hangs himself. The actor in question is the one-time famous Tag Kern, but he has been on the downside of his career for a while now. Still, the hanging draws enough interest from the police and media to shine a light on this mystery as you experience the same story from a trio of differing perspectives. This change in vantage point is hardly a new approach, but it is well executed here as the different protagonists have their own unique personalities that they bring to the table.
Two of the characters - a blogger and a reporter - seem similar to one another on the surface, but there are some pretty notable differences in their personalities and approach to the story. The third investigator is a detective, but all three have their reasons and methods of trying to get to the heart of what happened to Tag. There are some lightweight puzzles that generally fit pretty organically into the storyline to challenge you along the way, but Knee Deep is at its best during conversations.
Knee Deep is at its best when it is focused on player decisions. I love and spend a lot of time with various adventure games that put weight on decision-making, but often find myself disappointed with how narrowly the narrative branches regardless of what you choose. I certainly felt here as well, as character decisions did not impact the overall narrative, though there is value in how conversations are impacted you try to decide if your character is going to stick to the facts when writing up the details, or perhaps stretch the truth a little in hopes of a better payout for your story.
The characters and the setting of Cypress Knee have a certain backwater feeling to them that the dialog and story nail. There is a terrific sense of suspense and discovery as you delve from the first chapter into the second. The biggest issue is that Knee Deep does grow a little weaker with each entry - as if the development team knew exactly where they wanted to go with the story, but perhaps was not as certain just how to get there.
Knee Deep is an enjoyable adventure with a decent mystery at its core. It lacks the polish of some of the other adventure games I have played over the last year, but it nails atmosphere and the experience was worthwhile. I will say that it started stronger than it finished for my tastes, and the Oculus inclusion is a nice cosmetic touch that doesn't really bring a lot to the table, but the option is indeed a nice one to have.
PC - Oculus Rift
Provided by Publisher
Article by Nick