Ludum Dare 29 — April 25th-28th Weekend — Theme: Beneath the Surface

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by UltimateWalrus - 48 Hour Compo Entry


A 2D isometric "three degrees of freedom" shooter. Dive beneath the ice and fight creatures while moving in any direction in 3D space, navigating a vertically-oriented coral reef.

In normal mode, you'll need to return to the surface for energy --- make sure you make a trip whenever your energy gets below half.

Made in Clickteam Fusion 2.5 (which you'll need to view the source code).


More of my games are at

NOTE! I do plan on expanding this game a little bit because, while I feel the contest entry is a complete product, I really enjoyed making the environment and creatures and want to do more in the future. If you want to hear about it when I develop this game further you can follow me:

You can also support me by going here and buying Beat Bros, or at least wait for it to come out on Steam :]



If one of the people who found it hard to navigate in the 48-hour compo version, could playtest the post-compo version and leave a comment about it, I'd be very grateful! I've worked hard to make it very easy to navigate in 3D space.

Changes in post-compo version:
* Various bugfixes and optimizations.
* Much better lighting effects.
* Player has a shadow and side-radar that aid in positioning.
* HUD improvement
* Ambient track volume tweaked.

More to come in the future. This game's permalink is:

Downloads and Links




Naouak says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:41am

Can' t rate, It seems there is no ennemy. I tried going down until I got no energy left and didn' t encounter a single ennemy.

SlamBlasta says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:52am

Awesome game! It was hard for me, but I'm not used to isometric games. Great graphics. It's somehow relaxing just navigating the environment.

manabreak says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:57am

Solid! It's been a while since I played a game with this kind of orientation (probably the last one was Solstice on NES), so it got me a while before I was able to navigate. Cool concept!

mtinkerhess says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:57am

Nice gameplay, retro art, music is super fun, gameplay is interesting and a little different. Really cool!

Two small points: When I died I couldn't figure out how to reset without quitting and restarting the game, and the six directions of movement is kind of confusing. Not sure how you would do any better with the movement thing on a keyboard thought, I feel like it might work better with an Xbox controller, might be an interesting experiment.

Seppel says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:57am

I saved the animals! :D

That was fun. I got my up/down mixed up a lot though, but you made the game forgiving enough. :D

FyberOptic says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:59am

Great graphics, great audio, and a really neat concept. I felt myself being a bit awkward with the controls when trying to navigate to shoot stuff, but other than that, one of the best games I've seen so far.

whalebot says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:01am

This game is fantastic! I think I managed to take advantage of a bug where I would kill enemies to fill my oxygen so full that it wouldn't go down if I didn't get hurt, but regardless, I just kept going down wanting to see what was at the bottom and I found and destroyed it! Awesome work!

Huder says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:06am

This is nice but i cant get pass this white yelly blocks.

John Drury says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:10am

Graphics great. Not very fun though with nothing to shoot. Aesthetic is great. The toy was very functional and responsive.

Taugeshtu says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:11am

Excellent job :) Liked the concept, execution is great as well :)

qntnm says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:14am

Super nice, had to play on very easy on my first try before I got the hang of it, but I was able to beat it twice!

Apr 28, 2014 @ 6:18am

Thanks for all the positive comments!

I'm worried by those who say they found no enemies. Can you tell me what settings you used when there were no enemies, and if it happens when you just leave everything at default? I wonder if this fits into LD's allowance for game-breaking bugs.

deadarius says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:03am

Awesome! Reminded me about X-Com: Terror from the Deep. Thank you.

Some critic. It's a bit tedious to go back to surface all the time. And controls are quite hard, sometimes I wasn't able to figure out where I am at all

mactinite says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:41am

The music is great, reminds me of the SNES/N64 music and it fit well with the art style. What I really wanted to do was explore the reef, but I kept running out of energy! Haha Overall, it was a nice experience.

rubna says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:34am

WOW! I love this! Great visuals, athmosphere, and everything! Maybe it would be better if the z-axis (up and down) would snap to the grid, and maybe the ship could cast a shadow on the block below it for extra readability, but pff LD :D And maybe savepoints would be nice.

My favorite entry yet!

shuanDang says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 8:45am

Looks and sounds great! A bit difficult for me to get past the enemies once they show up.

mortus says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:59am

Cool art! Controls are hard to get used to, I'm gonna play it some more and see if it becomes easier to control.

jsmars says ...
Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:24am

Really well made graphics and feel! Great isometric graphics! didn't quite understand what the goal of the game was tho.

Apr 28, 2014 @ 9:25pm

First of all, thank ALL of you for the wonderful positive comments, they really make my day :]

I'm going to try and respond to all issues people have had:

Naouak, John Drury :
Did you get past the part where you have to shoot through the green blocks to progress? This part was intended to teach you how to shoot before you encounter enemies.

I'm scared about the possibility of a bug, so if I can figure out how to message you guys individually I'll try.

Only way to restart currently is to quit and relaunch the game. Controller support (as well as better restart) is planned for the post-compo version.

What probably happened is you grabbed so many energy tanks, you actually had more energy than the bar will show. I didn't have time to tweak this.

You probably got stuck because you didn't realize there is a hole right in the middle of the jelly blocks (it's like a tube). I didn't realize until after that this doesn't read well visually.

You're right, Normal mode can be very tedious, though from the start I intentionally wanted to try and work in some backtracking so the player gets better, can let the environment soak in, and appreciate how deep they are going. As for figuring out where you are I'll add a shadow in the post-compo version which should help wuit a bit.

mactinite, shuanDang:
Have you tried Very Easy mode? It's best if you just want to explore. I'm contemplating a "peaceful mode" in the post-compo version which would be unlocked after you beat the game.

The shadow should have been a no-brainer but in my haste I forgot to put it in. It will definitely be in the post-compo version.

The goal is to get to the bottom and destroy something down there.

moonmagic says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 5:07am

Fantastic; everything feels super chunky and solid. The atmosphere is lovely, and the instrument choice / melodies for the music remind me of some of my favorite Marble Madness tracks. I wish I didn't have to worry about energy but I accept it. I really like this.

RowdyGhosts says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 5:24am

I had to play in very easy, but I'm seriously amazed at how much you got done in just a single weekend! Great puzzles, I loved the graphics, and the shooting was really fun. Incredible work!

DarkEngineer says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 4:22pm

Nice gameplay

xdegtyarev says ...
Apr 29, 2014 @ 8:19pm

unfortunately haven't windows machine here, but I watched the video, so... wow! it's freaking awesome, man! fresh, nice and perfectly designed! absolutey brilliant!

ActionRemix says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 5:42am

I'm getting major Operation Neptune vibes here! Was this intentional?

Apr 30, 2014 @ 5:55am

Can't say I've played Operation Neptune, looks nice though. As a kid I liked another submarine game for DOS called "In Search of Dr. Riptide," but I didn't consciously try to take inspiration from any game.

nicolashognon says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 6:21am

the game looks really amazing (especially for a 48h solo jamp) but I have no windows computer right now, i'll try it later

daandruff says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 7:12am

This is by far the most solid entry I've played yet. Would love to play this on my NES :)

LandoSystems says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 5:46pm

Fun game, great art style and good fit for the theme. Controls took a while to get used to.

DragonXVI says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 6:08pm

Wham! Finished it :D Actually quite a nifty little isometric game. Takes full advantage of the complete wonkiness of figuring out depth worthy of the classic filmation games! Controls're a bit fiddly, but not impossible, and letting the enemies restore energy was a massive help. Nice! :D

runvs says ...
Apr 30, 2014 @ 6:15pm

Hi there,

Great Game! I like your graphics style (though i find it confusing on which tile i am standing and where the other blocks on the maps are).
Sorry to say, but the music did not fit the gameplay. It reminds me of some holiday at some nice beach and not of some deep see diving operation with some hazards.

But otherwise it is a great game with a solid gameplay!

Apr 30, 2014 @ 7:02pm

Thanks for all the wonderful comments, you guys make me really happy :] It's discouraging that the "most cool" rated LD games are mostly stick figure button-mashers and things like "whack-a-meme," so I'm glad that at least some people have found my game and got enjoyment out of it. Even if my game doesn't get much attention, I gained an incredible amount of satisfaction from making it. It's actually felt like a self-realization of sorts, because after 17 years of making games, this is one of the first that actually turned out better in execution than it even was in my imagination (the only other I can think of being "Isopark," which is available on

As for the music, I was trying to create an emotional contrast between the shallows (which I actually did kinda want to feel like a holiday at a nice beach) and the deep, which switches to a more melancholy ambience. One atmospheric point I really tried to hit was the loneliness of diving into really deep water, something I've experienced while scuba diving, and I don't think it would've hit quite as strongly if the music was melancholy from the get go.

MrShoestore says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 5:56pm

an amazing entry. seriously impressive for 48 hours

tomvert says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 6:31pm

Impressive game, quite confusing though !

GFM says ...
May 1, 2014 @ 7:10pm

Wow!! This game was amazing! Really fun and hard.
I'll have to go back to it in order to finish... I died a little after the music change. >_<

May 2, 2014 @ 1:40am

Thanks! Don't give up, a lot of my games force you to start over when you die. I guess I miss the days of arcade-style games where you got a little better with each playthrough.

Also just wanted to apologize for dissing Whack-a-meme as I felt bad about it later. Honestly I wasn't even able to get it to run so for all I know it could be amazing.

Dreii says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 4:21am

Wow this looks very well done and polished! Great music, Great graphics! very innovative mechanics! Love the 2d/3d thing you got going! Little hard to tell where you are sometimes though.

01101101 says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 9:55am

Impressive work! The idea is excellent and really well executed. I had trouble figuring exactly where I was on some on the platforms, but it gets better with practice :) Art and music are really nice too.

nonentheless says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 12:53pm

Hey, I have seen your game on twitch the other day and I'm amazed how much you've accomplished in such a short time. I don't like the gameplay, often for me it's hard to move where I want, but despite that you did an astonishing job.

gre says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 3:11pm

Incredible concept and gameplay.

NightShadow0 says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 4:31pm

Very, very clever gameplay, definitely the most innovative underwater game i've seen in this LD, even if it is tricky to get used to. Also LOVE the music, very Duke Nukem-y. Impressive!

allinlabs says ...
May 2, 2014 @ 9:46pm

Very impressive for 48h. A lot of good work done on so many fields. I don't know how you managed to do it but you rock

May 2, 2014 @ 10:55pm

Interesting game! The isometric 3D is well implemented, if a bit confusing to determine the positions of things sometimes. I like the music, too.

jujule says ...
May 3, 2014 @ 9:20pm

Technically super solid! I'm especially at how consistant it is: graphics, music and gameplay are all very thight.
I think it would be even better with controller support.

WhiteWolf93 says ...
May 6, 2014 @ 5:46am

Very polished and fun! Fits the theme perfectly and it's really original. I hope this goes steam or something, it was really fun.

May 7, 2014 @ 1:18am

Thank you very much for all the kind comments, it really means a lot :]

When I have a little time I'm going to tweak the lighting and add a shadow for a slightly tweaked post-compo version with hopefully a better sense of depth, for those who had trouble.

I'm hoping to find time to add a little bit more to Vertico in the future, for a significantly more fleshed out version 1.0. I don't know if I can get it on Steam but my other game, "Beat Bros," got greenlit for it so who knows maybe I can get my foot in the door.

If you're interested in the future version please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Email, via the links in the game description. :]

Bruno Massa says ...
May 10, 2014 @ 5:36pm

congrats man. technically it is VERY impressive for a 48h game. graphically also very nicely done.

tha acutal gameplay is a a bit difficult, due the isometric 3d. we can get used to, but still very disorienting.

QubedStudios says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 1:21am

I will have to install a Windows VM on my Mac to run it, but from the screenshots and the video it looks like it could be my favourite LD29 game!

I'm a big fan of isometric stuff, I experimented with similar graphics a couple of years ago (including similar lighting effect) and this is really the kind of game I would've liked to create myself if I pushed my experiments further!

rezoner says ...
May 11, 2014 @ 8:25am

Outstanding set of skills. The music sounds really OPL/Adlib. My only concern would be that the help layer could move by per grid basis instead of fluently moving with player. 5 stars nevertheless.

May 12, 2014 @ 12:48am

Thanks guys!

QubedStudios: you might be interested in watching the lighting demo which I did in the engine for my other isometric game, Isopark:

Everything in this video is 100% 2D. The smooth lighting with realistic shading on each surface was achieved with hand-drawn normal maps and displacement maps, and a custom shader.

mrjohnson22 says ...
May 12, 2014 @ 2:17am

I'm blown away by this. Never have I played a 3D isometric game that did such a fantastic job at clarifying where everything is at all times. It's clear you were aware of how hard it is to perceive 3D space in games like this, and everything you did to address that problem (the lighting on blocks, the movement grid, and the lines above/below enemies) works flawlessly and makes this game a joy to play.

More than that, this game really is a full-3D game executed in 2D! It's a good thing you made navigation so clear, because it really lets the gameplay reach its full potential. Multitasking between attacking enemies and dodging them is a lot of fun and just the right amount of challenge, too.

The navigational puzzles were also great, and leaving the more tricky ones as optional with health upgrade rewards was a good call, as it kept them rewarding without forcibly slowing down the action (unless the player chooses to tackle them, of course). The level design also escalates at a steady pace and showcases the gameplay step-by-step, giving the player a chance to familiarize themselves with the controls and visual cues in a risk-free environment before presenting the real challenge. Nice job on that!

I'm ecstatic to hear that you plan to expand on this game! I can't wait to see what you have in store.

mystakin says ...
May 12, 2014 @ 6:08am

This is really rad. I am, unfortunately, terrible at it but I got a kick out of seeing how deep I could dive on very easy. A really well executed original concept. Can't say enough good things, haha.

Anoarith says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 3:39am

Wow, that was amazing ! The gameplay was original and the difficulty was well-balanced ! Congratulations :)

May 14, 2014 @ 7:57pm

Thank you guys so much for the positive comments!! Especially mrjohnson22, that's one of the sweetest and most glowing comments I've ever received :] Make sure you follow me on something so you'll hear about it when I expand the game.

For those who wondered how I got so much done, be sure to check out the new postmortem (link in the description).

csanyk says ...
May 14, 2014 @ 10:20pm

Needs more excitement/challenge/action but looks/sounds very cool! It wasn't apparent how to dive/ascend, or how to quit the game.

May 15, 2014 @ 5:50pm

I'm glad you liked the look and feel! Dive/ascend is Space/Shift. Quit is Alt+F4. This is explained on the config screen.

I think you'll find plenty of excitement, challenge, and action once you've gotten through the first floor (by shooting through the green stuff). Especially in normal mode, which most people cannot beat (that's why it defaults to easy).

klianc09 says ...
May 15, 2014 @ 7:16pm

Really well done game. I especially liked the music, it created a nice mood. I even got scared when suddenly that big fish appeared. But once I was afraid that the music was broken because of the silence between the change of tracks. Maybe play some static deep sea noise in-between instead of silence.
It wasn't obvious at first, that the air tanks gave more air capacity (I didn't even identify them as air tanks at first).
You did a good job at helping the player to see where everything is, although navigating was still confusing sometimes, but that's typical for isometric 3D games.

bushmango says ...
May 16, 2014 @ 3:15am

Interesting game, very innovative. I found it hard to see where I was and it was tedious to make it back to the surface though :(

May 18, 2014 @ 7:12am

Interesting mechanic. Impressed at how developed this game is and liked the exploring different surfaces aspect.

deepnight says ...
May 18, 2014 @ 8:46am

Very good game, although it clearly has some readability problems :) The "shoot the green blocks" part were the most annoying in the game, as it was incredibly hard to figure out in which layer they were. Reminded me of Spindizzy Worlds (Atari ST), so it's something I took as a difficulty element and not as a major problem.

vigrid says ...
May 19, 2014 @ 12:08am

Great entry, although the controls are too tricky for me. I loved the graphics and the upbeat music.

May 19, 2014 @ 5:39am

Thank you for the great comments!

As for readability: I don't believe that isometric games are always doomed to have readability problems. While some have no trouble at all navigating the compo version, others encounter difficulty; through playtesting I've created a post-compo version that is much tighter and easier to read. I still have some tweaks to make to it, though.

May 19, 2014 @ 7:13am

OK! The post-compo version is up!! See top of the page for download link. Obviously, you should not rate the post-compo version.

I know some people had trouble navigating in the 48-hour version. I've worked hard to tighten up the gameplay, lighting effects, and radar so that the 3D world is even easier to navigate. I'd be really grateful if one of you who had trouble could try the post-compo version, and leave a comment describing if it was easier!

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