The ocean can be a beautiful and wondrous place. It can also be a source of fear and nightmares, endless and vast with so many dangerous creatures. You have crash landed on a planet largely made of water, and you are the only survivor. Can you survive the unusual creatures and the sea giants long enough to escape, or is this your new home now? This is Subnautica.
I’ll be up front: I’ve been following this game for a couple of years, watching over the various builds and adjustments to the large-scale open world. Created with the use of the Unity engine, Charlie Cleveland and the team at Unknown Worlds Entertainment have worked their asses off to bring us a beautiful title. Striking and stunning, it’s a little hard to find bad things to say about it. That is, unless you’re terrified of the ocean. You thought sharks were scary? Wait until you meet the Leviathans.
As I said before, your character appears to be the lone survivor after the spaceship Aurora was somehow disabled, crashing into the ocean planet below. Several other escape pods managed to launch before the Aurora met her demise, but as you manage to locate and search them, no survivors can be found. It’s you and the elements, and you will have to make your way to survive. Hopefully you’re into grinding and farming!
There is one drawback to Subnautica and it’s the farming. Some items seem impossible to find, making it so that you pretty much need to install a scanner room or you’ll be searching for items for hours. Even with this, searching can still take a while. Fortunately there are homing beacons that you can label, so once you do find a pocket of rare raw materials at least you can mark it. Mobility is also a little bit of an issue at first, but all in all this is a survival game, meaning movement and shelter or protection are always the first major issues. Subnautica does make you work for your survival, and I think that’s part of its charm.
As you make more items and gather more raw materials and blueprints, the more base-parts and vehicles can be made. Each vehicle has a different purpose and can come in quite handy depending on how you play. There’s the Seaglide, a small handheld glider to speed up swimming, the Seamoth, a small one person underwater craft, the Cyclops, a large submarine, and the Prawn Suit, an underwater mining suit. All have upgrades to go deeper and deeper into the ocean and avoid crushing depths.
Earlier I mentioned Leviathans. These are gigantic creatures starting at around 55 meters and spanning up to 200m. The second smallest is known as the Reaper Leviathan. This beast, with a red face and blue tones to the rest of its snake-like body, has four spine-like protrusions at all four corners of his face as well as two arm-like appendages under its jaw. This is the second smallest, remember, and its vicious. Just imagine what the Ghost, Sea Dragon, and Sea Emperor must be like. Not all Leviathans are dangerous, though, as the giant Reefbacks are actually incredibly docile, almost as if you’re too small to even notice.
If your computer can take the graphics at their highest setting, you will see how truly gorgeous this world is. For me, this game is more of a habitat builder than anything else. I’ve always wanted to live in the ocean or at least on the water. I wanted a shark as a pet when I was a kid, and still want a shark tattoo despite my best friend’s phobia of them. Then when I discovered Subnautica allowed you to train some of the creatures, at least for a little while, even raise some in your shelters… this is now my mind palace, thank you.
Subnautica took a little over five years to create, and it shows in just how amazing it is. Of course there are still occasional glitches, but my head got stuck in a wall in Assassin's Creed: Origins a couple of nights ago. If we are still giving big studio devs a pass for small (and fortunately fixable) glitches, then Subnautica gets one too. This game is a wonderful escape to play however you like. Make your own little world under the water, or work to find a way to survive and escape. Either way, be sure to explore. There’s a Leviathan in the Dead Zone, if you care to take a look. Just be sure you save your game beforehand… it’s dangerous out there in the void. Need a friend? Keep your eye out for the cuttlefish egg. Or should I say cuddle-fish. I named mine Wedge and he’s my little buddy. Happy Surviving!
Excellent. Look out for this one.
A great game that took five years to make. Subnautica is an open sandbox sci-fi fantasy that can inch it's way into horror as you explore the depths of the ocean world. Just be ready to farm!