Subnautica is an early access open-world survival game, set as its name implies, predominately underwater. That’s right, a survival game set completely underwater. It is only available as single player.
Oh, did I forget to mention it is also set on an alien planet whose underwater inhabitants are not always the most welcoming kind.
By the way, if you have phobia of the sea or anything like that …do NOT get this game. Otherwise you’re gonna be like me and just be on the verge of hyper-ventilating over everything. I did not make a wise decision BUT THE GAME LOOKED SO PREEEEETTY! and Markiplier made it seem really enjoyable…. *sulks*
Important: I played this back in March hence the impression is based on Subnautica’s early access March build. I had this post ready for upload but just forgot all about it. My skills at posting reviews are top-notch 😀
The graphics of the game is going to be something that everyone notices first. Subnautica is an astonishingly beautiful game, it is just so visually appealing. I do mean literally everything; from the flaming wreck of your spacecraft, alien marine life, the white walls of your sci-fi base of operations and everything else in between. I cannot get over just how gorgeous the graphics are. I think I spent a good majority of the game just admiring and squealing over the graphics of the game….when I wasn’t busy trying to not go into a full-blown freak-out due to my phobia. The graphics alone, almost make my constant battle with my fear worth the experience. Almost.
The game begins with an introductory cut-scene of you hurtling down towards an unknown planet in a life-pod/emergency pod. You are bracing yourself for dear life while everything is not okay, then you get knocked out. When you regain consciousness, you quickly scramble to put out the fire and fix some equipment up, after all the life-pod is your lifeline from this point on. The life-pod will be a very familiar sight and place, as you will be returning to it many times. Till you get a proper base built up that is.
When not in your trusty life-pod/base of operations, you are going to be swimming around underwater. Diving among the fish and sometimes terrifying murderous fish, corals, scavenging the wreck of the Aurora (the name of the spaceship) or elsewhere for the much-needed plans to unlock more technology. The more blueprints and parts you find, the more advanced technology you can craft. These will allow you the ability to dive deeper into the ocean depths to reach rarer resources, other blueprints and parts. Which also leads to seeing different marine environments and new (possibly hostile) sea life.
Being on the sea brings a host of challenges for the survivor, the most immediate being the lack of fresh food and water. Your pod has emergency rations but those will eventually run out, so time to get creative. It is a good thing the pod comes with a handy fabricator to allow you to build things from the resources you find. Just be careful, your life-pod can drift away on the ocean currents. On the bright side, it has a beacon so you can find it again.
One of the main mechanics of the game I find most interesting is how the developers focus on you interacting with the environment in a non-lethal way. In fact, the only weapon you have access to which is lethal…is your diving knife. I like that aspect since it will mean you have to come up with new ways to avoid ‘combat’ such as using your stasis rifle (?) to freeze the hostile creatures to buy time to swim away safely or even using the food chain to your advantage.
Base-building is obviously a big part of the game and you get to build them underwater. The game does not explain it clearly but you have to take into account how the water pressure based on the ocean depth. The deeper you are, the more pressure your base is in, which leads to higher chance your structure is going to suffer from structural damage. If it gets suffers too much ‘damage’ then you are going to have a flooded base till you fix it. The base is considered as one structure oddly enough, despite being made of different parts. I had my base with at least three separate sectors joined by corridors and its health bar was for the entire structure, not the three individual sectors; so when I had a leak, I had to run/swim around till I found it.
Since the game is in early access, the price is decent (about 10USD). Subnautica is a solid game with amazing graphics, decent sound design and bringing a new set of challenges for survival. It could use some work such as making the mechanics of base-building a little clearer and maybe a bit more diversification in sounds for machinery and the player character. If you want to try a new open-world survival game that is different from the rest, Subnautica may be for you. As long you aren’t terrified of the ocean.