My #7 game this year is the first time that I really enjoyed an open world survival game, probably due to the game downplaying that whole survival thing.
Subnautica’s claim to fame in the survival genre is being the first one to focus entirely on underwater. Instead of braving forests or the cold, you have an undersea world full of life to explore. The game’s setting is gorgeous and interesting, thanks to using a fixed environment with randomized resource placements.
You are free to play the game at different difficulties of survival, but unlike other survival games, Subnautica is not focused on that. You do have to manage elements like hunger and thirst, but the game subverts the genre within the first few hours of play.
One of the first items you can construct is a device used to build structures and items. From there, you can construct your undersea (or above water if you’re creative) base of your dreams. As your base grows, you are able to quickly deal with issues that used to be critical in the early stages of the game.
This is done thanks to the multitude of machines and quality of life improvements you can construct with the right resources. Getting tired of hunting for resources? Build a radar room and get instant detection of the resource of your choice. Running out of water and food? There are structures you can build to make them a breeze.
The game features an effective power, not power, curve of the player becoming more familiar to their surroundings and making survival easier. The first time you build one of the game’s several vehicles is a moment of excitement. That excitement is carried over into the progression of exploring the world. The deeper you go means the more resource rich and interesting the biomes get. However, you have to be concerned about depth and oxygen needs; not to mention more hostile life forms.
The game’s story may not win any awards, but going from survivor to explorer, to finally escaping is a great arc. The game’s early hours are some of my favorites from this genre, but I did have some issues in the mid to late game.
Once you get past the whole needing to survive part and constructing your undersea utopia, there isn’t much left to Subnautica. The story of trying to get off planet does take the game into fetch quest territory, and becomes a bit grindy with trying to get the specific resources. One of the best parts of the game is when you explore the remains of the ship you crashed landed on, and it would have been great to have a few more areas like that to focus the player’s attention.
Still, like with Marvel Strike Force, it takes a lot for a game of this genre to hook me, and Subnautica definitely deserves praise there.
We move into #6 next with the latest adventure game from a well-known designer
Tagged with: Subnautica