Yeah. Another underwater title. Which I’ve already established as a thing I do not like. That said, it’s a survival game with crafting, which can be fun. Besides, after playing Depth, this shouldn’t be that bad, should i-
Anyway, Subnautica was released by Unknown Worlds Entertainment in December, 2014. It’s an Early Access Title, but one with a good number of features and polish as well as a road-map showing what they plan to do to finish the game and when they plan for it to happen, so good on them.
As much as the setting terrifies, the innate charm of this game, that of most survival games: going from a helpless soul in the middle of nowhere to a kitted-out individual with a functional base, is still well intact. The game even does a great deal to help players get over the initial “what the hell do I do?” hurdle, thanks to scans detailing what plants and animals might be useful for, and tutorial-style messages from the escape pod computer as you find new materials and build new devices. Better yet it comes with game modes right off the bat for letting you ignore food requirements or ignore resource and blueprint collection completely. I personally feel food management is just busy work past a certain point so this works great for me.
Anyway, the base gameplay consists of finding a new biome, exploiting its resources and fragments of broken technology to better equip yourself, allowing you to explore yet more dangerous and distant biomes to do the same there. There is a story of some sort, but it’s not fully fleshed out, and I don’t wanna spoil it as it’s one of those “piece it together from the clues you find” sorts which I quite enjoy.
I’m glad they used an alien planet as the game’s setting, because as much as I am sure they could make a cool underwater world just with the stuff in our own, real life ocean, games are a chance to explore something even more awesome. The biomes have their own color schemes and life forms and terrain to make them feel unique and exciting to discover and explore. And besides, now we get stuff like sand sharks and tiger plants and reaper… leviathans…
To finish off the review, here are the weak points. Some of the textures and such look unfinished, and there’s noticeable breaks in oncoming terrain and pop-in as things like plant-life loads in. Considering so much is already fleshed out in the graphics department, it doesn’t break the immersion so much as smack it across the face with a sledgehammer. Also, it has noticeable hiccups on my recently upgraded rig. I’m not exactly dual-wielding Nvidia Titan’s here, but this performance seems to be a thing on all the other videos I’ve seen featuring it, so keep in mind that they still have work to do in that department. There’s also the matter of they keep reworking stuff such that the only way to properly experience the new stuff is to make a new world, which sucks when you’ve just salvaged enough bits to build a new submarine.
Subnautica is $20 on Steam. Turns out my timing is great, because it’s on sale for $12 until the 4th of July. If you like survival games with crafting and such, you’ll like it. If you enjoy exploring colorful worlds full of interesting critters and scenery, you’ll like it. If you don’t like the ocean… you might still like it, actually.