by Vincent Haoson (Ojogo)
Being a guy who’s been doing a lot of multiplayer and online games, I’ve been balls deep in games that require me to interact with other people no matter how inconvenient it is. So getting into the world of Subnautica is a welcome change of pace for me.
Subnautica follows the adventures of Ryley Robinson. the survivor of the Alterra vessel, Aurora, that crash lands in the planet 4546B. You need to live off the land as you try to piece together what happened and get saved in the process. The game uses the first-person perspective and revolves around trying to survive by creating food and drinks from the resources found in the water-based planet.
The game currently has four game modes that revolve around the survival gameplay mechanic. Freedom, Survival, and Hardcore mode follow the usual survival gameplay with a few tweaks to the formula to provide more of a challenge for players. The creative mode however, removes the survival mechanics so that players can mainly focus on building their bases and exploring the world.
As a survival game, Subnautica follows the usual gameplay style where you gather resources either from the flora and fauna in planet 4546B or from the scavenged resources from your ship Aurora. You’ll be creating food, tools, and equipment as you try to get off the planet.
Subnautica moves the story along as you do certain key actions, like seeing certain objects or repairing equipment within your escape pod. This gives off the vibe that while the game does allow free flow gaming just like in a sandbox game, you are still following a fixed storyline that keeps the game interesting as you progress.
If you’re going to ask me what would be the game feature that strikes me the most about Subnautica, I’d say the beauty of the world that Unknown Worlds created for planet 4546B.
I love the contrast between the stark surface the planet has, and the rich and visually vibrant underwater landscape you’re in for when you dive into the ocean. The game actually makes me feel like I’m already diving into a real life underwater world with the way the alien fish move and how they are designed. The game looks like those under water filler scenes straight out of television or those diving videos you see online.
Unknown Worlds was able to masterfully make you feel the claustrophobia of wearing googles for long periods of time. Though maybe that’s just me transferring my weird phobias when I swim with goggles on.
Of course, when we’re talking about survival games, crafting is going to be the most important feature, and Subnautica has that in spades. The game allows you to build from the basic resources you can gather from your landing site, and since the game is set in a futuristic setting, the game gives you a PDA as a guide to not just the story and other content, but also a notebook of sorts for your crafting.
As a starting point, you can craft the smaller items in your escape pod, the Lifepod 5’s fabricator. The equipment will craft the necessary items taken from the various resources that you have in game. The lifepod also has a medical kit fabricator which generates first-aid kits every thirty minutes.
For the more advanced builds, you need to gather their blueprints and scan for the necessary items before you can manufacture them. You also need to create bigger structures for the other sea-based vehicles that you can eventually create later on in-game.
Crafting in Subnautica is pretty fun and easy to follow. Since this is my first time tackling a first-person perspective survival game, I liked how the builds are easy to follow and the items are pretty much easy to farm. Aside from the visual spectacle that is Subnautica, crafting is its other best feature.
Conclusion: Excellent (4.5/5)
One of the best solo immersive experience as of late, crafting is easy to get into and enjoyable. Lack of Multiplayer may turn of certain players.
Subnautica is undoubtedly one of the solo games that I’m more than willing to get back into after the review. It’s visually stunning, and the crafting and building mechanics are really easy to get into and understand. I love that Subnautica tells a complete story with just hints and small tidbits of what happened to the people after Aurora crashed. Unknown Worlds was able to masterfully create better fleshed out characters than some of the bigger AAA titles, and you don’t even see them at all, just hear them through the conversations as you unlock them.
Unknown Worlds was able to create a game that’s captivating but also haunting, because you feel all alone in such a huge world. Since the game is a solo experience through and through, you can really get sucked in the world as you survive and build from the land. I liked that even after finishing the main storyline, you are given challenging options that can really spur you to get back and replay the game.
If there’s one thing that I find lacking in Subnautica, it’s the lack of a multiplayer feature. I know it’s pretty ironic for me to say this now especially since I’ve kind of complained at the beginning of the review. But Subnautica is one of those games that would’ve been good not just as a solo game, but also multiplayer as well. With the base creation feature being one of the things that keeps you hooked, it would’ve been nice if you can bring in a friend to either help you farm or brag about the big bad base you created in game. Unknown World’s already closed the door for the multiplayer feature though since they’ve already said they won’t add this in the future. So maybe, we can expect a multiplayer version of Subnautica somewhere down the line. Heck we got Don’t Starve Together didn’t we?
Overall, Subnautica is a great game time sink. If you want a game that you can dedicate your time on playing this is just for you. This game is great for solo players who want to have that solo experience in their titles, it can be soothing in as much as jarring as you get into the deeper, scarier parts of the sea. If you’re a multiplayer gamer though, you should steer clear off this game.