I’ve now been “underwater” for 24 hours. I say I’m “going underwater” when I’m about to jump in and play some Subnautica. Alright, that’s enough swimming puns. Here’s my review of Subnautica.
Subnautica is a survival game that takes place on an alien, sea planet. You awake to find yourself trapped in a lifepod on fire. You must quickly put out the fire from a nearby fire extinguisher. From there you exit the lifepod to see that you’re stranded in the middle of the ocean. Off in the not-too-far distance is a massive, burning spaceship sticking out of the ocean like a futuristic Titanic. You start to piece together the story right off the bat. You were a passenger on that spacecraft and survived a wreck by ejecting nearby in your current lifepod.
Because there is no land in site, you’ll soon dive under the water to see a truly beautiful seascape. At first, the ocean life looks very similar. There’s large coral under the surface, algae-like looking plants swaying in the current and fish swimming all around. You’ll soon realize that the planet just looks slightly different. The fish, you’ll discover, are a little odd looking and certainly alien. This is one thing I love in particular about Subnautica: Every lifeform, from the amphibious creatures to the coral organisms, are alien and original to the game but often resemble similar Earth-like underwater counterparts. This makes the alien world’s existence feel possible yet still out of this world.
While the start of the game seems quite hopeless, you’ll soon find you can survive even while being stranded in the middle of an alien ocean. You start off Subnautica with limited but handy tools. You have one knife, a machine called the Fabricator in the lifepod that can build new objects and tools from materials you gather under the ocean, and a scanning device that’s used to research newly found plants, materials, or even alien objects. The scanning device is a key part of Subnautica. Use it everywhere on everything new you come across, whether it’s a small creature, a shiny rock, a piece of shipwreck or even an alien structure found underwater. You may need a special material to build a better aquatic suit and by scanning different plants, for example, you’ll receive a hint as to what that plant could be useful for or made into.
Subnautica is the first survival game I’ve ever played, and boy was I surprised at how entertaining survival games are. There are so many items you can collect, and different objects you can build and advance throughout the game. While collecting items to build a better suit or habitat would be fun in and of itself, that’s only half of the game. There’s a whole nother arena of Subnautica which is incredibly enjoyable: The story of why you’re on this alien planet.
You learn the story of Subnautica by discovering and reading displaced crew logs found across the ocean floor in debris left by the crashed vessel. You learn that this alien planet is identified as 4546B, and you traveled on a vessel called the Aurora along with many others. The Aurora’s mission was to expand trading routes across the galaxy. The Aurora may have had another, more classified mission as well. I’ll let you discover this mission, and why the Aurora may have crashed, on your own adventure in Subnautica.
As I’ve said before, I’ve now played Subnautica for over 24 hours. In that time I’ve discovered enough materials to build a mini-sub, explored the enormous underwater caves, found fascinating clues on the burning remains of the Aurora, and even discovered an island with alien artifacts. Eventually you’ll discover pathways to escape 4546B, and in my gameplay I just don’t have everything I need yet to follow that pathway. As you can tell, there’s plenty of gameplay and things to keep you occupied in Subnautica. And no matter where you are exploring in the underwater world, you won’t be disappointed by the incredible beauty of the game. Even if you don’t think survival games are your thing, you may want to give Subnautica a shot.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Thomas Wright