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#TBT PC Game Review :- Subnautica from Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Descend into the depths of an alien underwater world filled with wonder and peril. Craft equipment, pilot submarines and out-smart wildlife to explore lush coral reefs, volcanoes, cave systems, and more – all while trying to survive.

 

 

Recently I picked up the first person survival game; Subnautica (released Jan 2018 on STEAM, Dec 2018 on consoles), it looked like a fun game from the drunk play-through I watched and as I hadn’t played a solo game in a while, thought I would give it a try.  I should say that I have only just recently become a PC gamer and I have so much catching up to do that my computer is going to hurt by the end of the year with everything I have to cram in. Now I am a firm believer that a reviewer shouldn’t sway your opinion, because in the end we all have differences of opinion and that is good; or the world would be boring. So please, if you get a chance and you are into survival games, give it a go and make your own mind up, in my opinion this was a brilliant start to my PC gaming life!

 

The story, like any survival game, is pretty standard in that you are stranded alone to deal with the world around you. In this case you are on an ocean planet, light years from home with not one coffee place to help you deal with this. You were part of a team sent to setup a “phasegate” and to search for a missing ship that crashed on the planet. Because humans have to repeat courses of action before we figure out what is bad and what is good, your ship crash lands as well.

 

 

While scanning the planet, your ship “The Aurora” is hit by an unknown energy force from the surface and you escape in the only life pod that seems to have passed it’s maintenance checks as the others you find that haven’t done so well! I swear they could have spent less on interior decoration, (potted plants and posters advertising the ship to the crew of said ship,) and spent it on shields, better life pods or a less sarcastic AI. The wreckage of your once “advanced” ship lays on the horizon of this new world and you must save yourself through modern sci-fi technology, scavenging planetary resources, and retrieving tech that has spread far and wide across the ocean seabed. Can you do it?

 

In my case, yes I could and had a jolly good time too!

 

 

The gameplay style, apart from the first person free roaming aspect, is best described as a tech-tree you must grow and nourish with SO MUCH titanium and copper you wouldn’t believe; and who would have ever thought I would get fed up of finding gold and diamonds!? You also need blueprints found by scanning broken parts of equipment from the wreckage of the two crashed ships.

 

You start with basic tools for survival in the form of a Replica…I mean Fabricator which runs on the principle of “FEED ME SEYMOUR!” You cram large quantities of fish into it and get bottle water and food in return. Alloys and Scrapings of coral gives you a fire extinguisher, (for the moment when the ocean planet suddenly becomes a fire planet) and other bits and bobs to make your lonely stay a bit more bearable. As you progress through the tech tree you gain access to deeper regions of the planet and in turn, more resources to cram into the fabricator, which gives even better tools, to help you access even deeper regions.

 

 

There is also the crashed ships to explore, the lost habitats of the first ship to crash here and the presence of an intelligence that is not our own. I use the term ‘intelligence’ loosely because who parks up that close to an unknown planet where one ship has already vanished?! You can build submarines to explore deeper and further, discover habitats to survive in, and manufacture tools to do all kinds of funky stuff, as you explore the story as much or as little you want.

 

The story is read through data you find on PDA devices. These explain bit by bit what happened to the previous explorers to add to your immersion of the game if you so choose. In my case, I ignored the PDA and tried to figure out what happened through exploring the visual world and making my own mind up about stupid humans parking so close to planets with a history of vanished ships. Seriously with all that tech you couldn’t just send a probe? It didn’t ruin the game for me in any way and actually added to the experience. The story is light but being the only human alive, that is acceptable.

 

 

The game plays so well to the lone survival feel. There is no real tutorial and as you gain new equipment and vehicles you are never really shown how to pilot them. The immersion became so real for me that I imagined Ryley Robinson, (the protagonist you play) was part of the Domestic Crew (he mopped the corridors), as he seems to know little about anything he is building. As it turns out he is a Non-Essential Systems Maintenance Chief… so in actual fact the guy who gets to scrub out the engine while the real engineers are doing the real work!

 

I shouldn’t be too hard on him though, together we conquered Iantopia! From Giant Leviathan attacks to nearly drowning him when I found shiny stuff WAY to deep down for my air tanks, we spent hours of gameplay exploring and literally getting lost in such a huge world. It is a beautiful game that was well designed and blends a great mixture of breathtaking underwater beauty, scary oversized monsters nipping at your tiny self, and even comical little fish that smear across your submersible vehicles as you speed away from things trying to eat you.

 

 

I really felt for this planet and when I saw the damage the crashing ship had done to the area, I really believed I deserved all the giant predator fish chasing after me! Throw in the strange alien technology that looms out of the darkness as you float towards it, and you just can’t get enough of the visual. This becomes important when playing a solo game, as you take time to stop and look at these details.

 

The dark overtones are broken up by the various different AI personalities that live inside your own PDA unit and the machines you build. I got an overwhelming sense of pride when I got aboard my first Submarine and heard “Welcome aboard captain!” I had been promoted from Engine scrubber to captain and it only took me being marooned on a planet to get the position I always wanted! The main AI on your PDA reminds me much of Portal’s sense of humour. Whenever you discover a new place, device or vehicle, her voice chimes up to tell you something interesting about it, and the occasional witty banter added to my immersion.The unsettlingly human computer and the lack of other people made me wonder if Ryley was starting to lose it a bit and the computer was just him talking to himself in a robot voice.

 

 

Now no game is without its flaws and though I didn’t see many glitches, some of the ones I did see were game breaking. I left the first mini-sub I had ever made and cherished, to explore a deeper cavern system it couldn’t reach. When I got back it was inside a nearby wall. This meant I would have to start the game all over again because I couldn’t make it to the surface without dying. Console commands saved my play through but also gave me access to tempting cheats, and I lost some of that immersive feeling. I later found out one of the creatures had tried to teleport me out of my PRAWN suit and into its clutches, but instead teleported me outside the environment.

 

Most glitches are simple and often don’t ruin the game and sometimes played into my idea that Ryley was going mad. On another occasion I was walking down the access tunnel from a nuclear power plants to a fish display cabinet and though I didn’t think their proximity would be an issue, I witnessed a very odd fish, a giant eyeball with fins, swimming towards me! It was at this time I decided to go back to Earth and seek some professional help.

 

 

Those glitches came few and far between and once I got passed my frustration of the incident of HMS Nippy Shrimp and the wall, I got back into the game and was once again captivated by the beauty of it all.

 

It is possible to become lost and confused, where nothing makes sense and you are sure you missed a small detail somewhere. If this happens, I recommend checking the wiki out because it was very helpful and didn’t spoil anything waiting ahead for me. I had to use the wiki several times, but I feel that that was more a reflection of my ability as a player.

 

 

The game is left so open that you can play it anyway you like; valiant hero desperately trying to get home, scared engineer doing what he can to survive on little training or my Ryley, who was an engine room janitor who got super lucky. Once the game was complete, and I had put the finishing touches to my underwater resort (yes, I built an underwater resort!), I decided to craft my rocket and get back to Earth. I planned to start advertising and make a killing on the adventurous holiday maker who would love the dangerous Iantopia! But what then?

 

The game offers different modes and I originally played it on “easy”. If you just fancy a nice ride a sort of ultra-easy mode exists which helps you to learn how everything works in a safe environment. With endless resources at your disposal, all the blueprints unlocked and being immortal you don’t need to worry about anything other than learning to play the game! On Easy mode you are trying to survive but all you need to worry about is your health and your air, plus you now have to find everything to get you up and back into space. Hard mode introduces the need to eat and drink and though you can die you still re-spawn somewhere safe, minus the materials you just collected. If you want to feel like every moment could be your last then hardcore mode is for you! You get one life and no warnings about your air supply and I am leaving that for when I feel like giving myself a heart attack! This gives every level of player a nice entry point into the game though.

 

 

In addition, though there doesn’t seem to be a date of arrival, Subnautica, Below Zero adds another chapter to the game, which will bring a whole new element of tracking your heat, along with the original gameplay mechanics that made this game so much fun! Set in the polar icecap on the same planet, you now have frozen land masses to contend with, not to mention creepy penguins!

 

Subnautica deserves a go if you like Survival games, as it did feel like me against the world because it was! If you like building mechanics that allow you to construct your own living areas then at some point you can forget the story and escaping, and build yourself your own underwater resort with aquarium, two nuclear reactors and a medical bay set up for injuries sustained from handling dangerous fish and radiation burns. If you just like open world exploring then it is really easy to get lost in all the different areas of Subnautica as each place has its own particular wonder from the various planet life and it’s glowing auras to the beasties that lurk among them.

 

 

Now excuse me, I have to finish setting up the VIP apartments at my resort as they keep getting eaten by leviathans.

 

 

Subnautica is available now on STEAM, XBox One and Playstation 4!

 

A solid and fun 6 out of 10!
~ IanABlakeman

 

[Edited by Scarlet_Dragon]


January 31st, 2019 by IanABlakeman
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 9:25 pm and is filed under Game Review, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, PC, Playstation, Real Time Strategy, Xbox. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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