Subnautica: FEAR THE OCEAN
Hey all! As my journey in blogging has just begun, I’d decided to share a previously published review I’ve written of a game I’ve been thoroughly enjoying for quite a while now.
Without further ado, Subnautica:
1. What hasn’t been said about the games I absolutely love? There are countless opinions and reviews on games like the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series (which is far from a bad thing) and everything that could be said has been said, so I wanted to refrain from adding to that at the current time.
2. I wanted to give a spotlight to a game that hasn’t really received that yet because I value the little man, the smaller developer, the experimental jazz. That stuff. It’s good stuff.
3. As an avid NON-user of Facebook, I tend to reserve lengthy posts to VGA, a gaming community that I thoroughly enjoy. This review is actually a revision of an older Subnautica review I published earlier this year, but I felt it deserved some extra love after the many updates that have happened lately.
BUT LET ME TELL YOU…this game deserves one hell of a review and all of your attention.
Allow me to introduce you to the beauty, glory, and butt-puckering alien terror that is SUBNAUTICA. Currently in development by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, this single-player open world survival game was released on Steam late 2014 (I know, I was a fashionably late to the party). A recent preview of the game has been released on Xbox as of the 17th of May with no word yet on a Playstation release (as I wait with bated breath). The game focuses on one survivor of the space craft Aurora that crashes into an alien world covered in a massive ocean while offering four distinctly different gameplay modes. You begin the game by experiencing a suspenseful crash sequence while you scramble to put out a fire in your life pod and find yourself a short ways from the Aurora’s crash site. Let’s start by going over the current gameplay options.
Survival mode is the first gameplay mode, featuring the micromanagement of food consumption and hydration while focusing on overall health and oxygen while diving. The most vital component of this mode is maintaining nutrition levels as well as your hydration, fish are slippery and it may take a while in the game for you to create a water filtration system. Oxygen is quite manageable no matter what mode you choose to play on. In addition to managing these factors, your sea-base and certain equipment will require a power source and your base can succumb to pressure levels and overall damage. If you die without storing recently collected items in a storage container, life pod, or sea-base, you die and “lose some stuff”.
Freedom mode allows you to play the game in survival mode without having to worry about food or hydration, but you still need to maintain your overall health and oxygen.
Hardcore mode restricts you to a single life. If you don’t eat, you die. If you don’t drink, you die. If you drown, you DIE. Get the idea?
Finally, creative mode allows you to enjoy every available resource and building blueprint while eliminating damage, oxygen, energy consumption, pressure, and death. Pretty nifty, huh?
What to expect on your first day in an alien ocean
You’ll spawn in your handy little life pod when you start the game, looking out at the wreckage of the Aurora. You begin the game with 50% food and 65% hydration so the first thing you need to do is gather some basic supplies. You’ll jump in the water into a biome called Safe Shallows to find a shallow reef area teeming with various species of alien flora and fauna, some peaceful and some not. You’ll notice piles of metal on the ocean floor so it’s time to salvage all the things! Once you collect some things, inanimate and not, you can return to your pod to use the fabricator. Your fabricator can craft supplies and raw materials into refined materials, parts, and equipment. There are a few items that can provide you with a bit of a head start when venturing out into the ocean. First things first: craft yourself an additional oxygen tank. Before recent updates, multiple O2 tanks in your inventory would increase your oxygen but also take up an incredible amount of space in said inventory, but now one additional tank can be equipped and will not take up valuable inventory space, increasing your oxygen to 105 seconds. Gathering supplies for creating filtered and disinfected water are extremely important as well, hydration can become quite a problem if you aren’t prepared, similarly with food. Your fabricator can cook and cure food, so get yourself some fish as soon as you can and stock up. Keep in mind that cured foods will dehydrate you. After taking care of your food and water intake, salvage the needed supplies to craft a survival knife so you can defend yourself and gather additional supplies. Finally, craft some fins. They won’t make a HUGE difference but they are certainly an improvement.
An important thing to note is that when you venture closer to the Aurora is the increasing radiation levels after the craft explodes after a couple in-game days. Further exploration of the ocean to collect fragments and additional supplies will require you to craft a radiation suit.
Sea-bases and Vehicles
Once you’ve gathered more materials than you know what to do with, you can being construction on your underwater fortress. Factors like hull-integrity and energy consumption are incredibly important and pressure can be a hassle to work with as well. There are many unique modules you can create to customize your home and with recent updates, you can now implement farming and aquariums to create a sustainable living space. Another even more recent update includes new technology to improve your living space. A particularly useful new feature is the Map Scanner room which you can built onto existing sea-bases or be completely standalone. This technology will scan the seafloor searching for resources and salvageable materials. There are also two exterior cameras which can be incredibly useful for security and simple observation of the environment around you. Additionally, you can find abandoned sea-bases while exploring the ocean, some of which have PDA data entries with information that leads you to believe that there is much more to come in regards to the plot of the game and the existence of other survivors of the crash.
There are two major vehicles you can create in the game. Aside from handheld vehicles like the Seaglide, you can create the Cyclops and the Seamoth. The Cyclops is a large submarine and mobile base and the Seamoth is a small submersible vehicle that you can dock inside the Cyclops which is handy-dandy, I dare say. These vehicles can be created by exploring the ocean in search of fragments, pieces of salvage that you can scan to access the blueprint of each vehicle. The Cyclops has recently been given a major technology overhaul by the developers, adding improved proximity sensors, a camera on the hull, lockers, and the ability to dive deeper.
Flora, Fauna, & Biomes
The animal and plant life in the game is UNREAL. Seriously. It’s terrifying and beautiful and I find it hard to contain my excitement. The reefs are colourful and diverse while the depths of the ocean make my skin crawl. The audio in this game is impeccable. I never cease to be amazed by the sound quality of Subnautica where I’m playing with production speakers or a gaming headset. This game captures the sheer size of the ocean by sound alone. Much of the flora is harvestable and harmless while providing various levels of nutrition or uses in crafting while the fauna ranges from tiny fish to massive beasts like the harmless Reefback to the downright diabolical Reaper Leviathan. Everything has a role in this unbelievably diverse environment, including the different biomes that provide vastly different landscapes. The developers are consistently adding new creatures and environmental features to the world and they are never changes that seem superfluous or game-breaking. It feels like an ever-evolving alien environment and I always look forward to new updates, even if it means having to start a new save file. It’s a different experience every single time.
I won’t divulge much more as this is a game that must be experienced on your own, but I recommend this game to absolutely everyone. It’s not inherently scary like a typical horror game as that’s not what it is, but it becomes a suspenseful nail-biter because it captures the reality of the ocean being a massive pit of god-knows-what and how you can never even begin to know everything that resides within. The beauty of this game is that it’s STILL in early access and it’s smooth as hell with developers that listen to the community forums and act on feedback. 15/10, definitely a must-have for gamers of every preference.