When a friend asked me to describe Subnautica I came up with no words that could correctly capture this game. Subnautica is an underwater exploration and survival game, brought to us by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, an indie company based out of California. You play a silent protagonist who, while on the family space road trip, made the horrible mistake of letting grandmother drive the space ship, and as a result crashed into an alien planet, leaving you as the only survivor. While initially excited you don’t have to share a bunk with your obnoxious OCD clean freak cousin, you soon realize you must fight to survive on this water covered planet your senile, old grandmother crashed on.
As I played through I noticed the game gives off a Minecraft sort of feel. You start out with nothing other than an escape pod and some basic supplies. To get food you must catch fish or find oceanic plants. Most fish are smart and will swim away when you try to catch them so the easiest way to grab food is to collect acid mushrooms of the ocean floor. I really think the developers missed out on a funny opportunity with the mushrooms. I was hoping that when I ate one I would start tripping out underwater for a bit. This would have gone really well with the vibrant colors and imaginative ocean life. But alas it just fills your hunger bar. Along with the hunger bar, you must keep your h2o high or you will become dehydrated. This can be solved by cooking fish to give you a small h20 boost, or creating sanitized water. The sanitized water is made with bleach which I found a little shocking at first, but hey what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… I think.
“An Underwater Minecraft”
Much like Minecraft they put out a basic version first before adding on new updates and features. One of the first updates was the ability to create underwater bases. This requires a large amount of materials but it is very cool and has the potential to create an evil genius layer or an Atlantis style utopia. Not to mention it is very useful when you have mini underwater cabins spread out around to help you survive, or to store materials when needed. Recently I created a giant submarine that can also house an exploration mini sub. After finding it was possible to name the sub and it would appear on the side of your sub. I promptly proceeded to name my sub something wildly inappropriate. (Use your imaginations because I don’t think I should say it on the review.)
While Subnautica has similarities to Minecraft it doesn’t pull a Flappy bird remake and just half-ass the game to make money. It is the good kind of similarity. Subnautica took a formula that works and then expanded on it turning it in to a fantastic idea. Subnautica has the same survival style of Minecraft in the sense that you must find materials and then craft them in to better and better things to survive. But Subnautica is its own game entirely. Whenever I play, I am constantly reminded of when I first saw James Cameron’s Avatar. The imagination that went in to creating this game is fantastic! At the shallow areas I found brightly colored fish and coral formations you could swim through but as you go deeper the game becomes more serious with predators trying to kill you and visibility gets lower and lower the deeper you go leaving you nervous to continue. I even saw what looked like a giant jelly fish as I was exploring. Aside from a knife I couldn’t find much to defend myself with, and life is much more fleeting when you are not the top of the food chain. This encourages the player to explore and avoid potential threats rather than grab a gun and shoot anything and everything that happens to make the mistake of moving. This is very fun and adds an edge of terror when you swim around a corner and are jumped by a giant hostile shark. The only problem I found with this style of survival is with the new update.
The newest update that came out at the start of May, features exploration of the giant spaceship that crashed nearby. Along with the exploration the developers also added a new monster, The Reaper Leviathan or as I usually say/call it when I see it “HOLY CRAP! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!” is a giant and I mean GIANT sea monster that patrols the crashed ship. The Reaper Leviathan has tentacles in front of its mouth that it uses to catch the mini sub and destroy it. It can kill you in one hit if it catches you. This being said the logical thing any deranged psychopath like myself would do is try to kill it. After 2 hours of trial and error aka crying while hiding in a cave before I poke my head out to get killed by squidzilla. I finally killed it. Yes this was a productive use of my time don’t judge me!
The one major issue I had was the glitches that would sometimes get me killed. I would often glitch through the wall of my sub or leave my sub and be transported a good 2 minute swim away from any safe location. I also had trouble finding more things to do. This game is relatively new and not much has been patched on to the game yet. So once you have done everything it becomes a little bit tedious. This being said even after crafting everything the game is still very fun. The further out I explored the more I found. And the different biomes are beautiful! I have a feeling I still have plenty more I haven’t found yet and that’s not even counting the updates that will be coming out. While this game is only single player at the moment I really hope they add multiplayer servers in the future. I can absolutely see myself playing this with friends a year or two from now. I absolutely love this game and everything about it. Well done Unknown Worlds Entertainment. Subnautica is available on steam for $19.99