It’s pretty rare for a single game to grip me so much that I dedicate the bulk of my free time to it for weeks on end. As some of you may be aware, my tastes in gaming are somewhat eclectic – I have a tendency to prefer slower paced titles that put less emphasis on action and more on exploration, story, or creativity/sandboxing. About a month ago I was fortunate enough to find a game that has all three: the open-world survival game Subnautica.
The general premise of Subnautica is easy to pick up: in it, you play the role of an unnamed crew member stranded alone on an ocean planet after your starship suffers a catastrophic accident. At the outset your only shelter is your damaged life pod bobbing helplessly in the water, and your only supplies are a few measly food and water rations to tide you over until you’re able to find a more sustainable means of eating. From there you’re tasked with diving in to the depths to find materials, salvage the the wreckage of your doomed vessel, and find a way to escape.
When the game first released on Steam Early Access in 2014 it made a modest splash (pun intended). Gamers were intrigued by the unique concept and were drawn in by the beautiful art style and heavy emphasis on exploration. Unfortunately, like many Early Access titles, Subnautica had a lack of content and many gamers eventually moved on to other things. However, a small but dedicated fan base stuck by and watched as Subnautica’s creators (Unknown Worlds Entertainment) routinely updated the game with bug fixes, new features, and most importantly content. Fast forward to today: Subnautica is almost a complete game on the verge of announcing its official release (right now estimated for January 2018) and packed rich with features such as the ability to build custom bases and various submersible vehicles, a diverse array of alien sea life (including some truly terrifying “leviathan” class creatures), and a surprisingly complex story line to work through.
This is the state that I found Subnautica in: not the bare-bones “just another survival game” but a fully fleshed out rich environment that’s truly impressive in its scope. The game map is on par with other open world games such as Skyrim, taking several minutes to traverse corner-to-corner. However you have to remember that Subnautica is underwater, which means you also have several kilometers of DEPTH to cover and explore. This leads to a world that feels staggeringly huge, and as you go deeper and deeper to discover the planet’s mysteries things get more difficult and threatening. Many are tempted to just stay in the shallows and enjoy the plethora of content near the ocean’s surface but trust me, the depths of the game’s story ARE worth exploring despite the risk.
I regret that I don’t have the space to go in to all the great things about Subnautica, so I’ll simply say this: you should definitely try it, even if you’re one of the people who looked at it a few years ago and dismissed it. If you’re a fan of open world exploration at all it will immediately grab hold of you and pull you in to its depths, and you’ll love every minute of it. If you have the time, check out my old guide on the game!
Graduated from MIT with 2nd class honours. I play games during my free time to de-stress. I also do some writing here and there. Hope you enjoy my articles!