- Developer: Unknown Worlds and Grip Games
- Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
- Genre: Action & Adventure
- Release Date: 16.05.2016
- Platforms: Xbox One, Windows, Mac
- Game Supplied by: Xbox
I haven’t had the pleasure of playing this game on PC yet, so everything I’m going to write about is all from the Xbox Preview version, and even going in blind to an unfinished game like this, I was absolutely captivated!
This game is about survival, but a version that I’m not too familiar with. There’s no zombies to run from, or maniacal henchmen to wipe out, this is more of a you versus nature game. You crash land on a planet which is either a water world, or an ocean. During the plunge through the atmosphere your character jumps into an escape pod during the brief intro and gets knocked unconscious. Upon waking you’re alone in the malfunctioning lifepod with the mothership, burning in the far distance.
Your job from now on is to survive. Dive into the water to collect minerals and materials to use in the onboard fabricator which can build better tools or equipment for you. There is no in depth tutorial, except in the menu of the fabricator it tells you what materials you need to create the items. It’s up to you to go into the water and find them. You can stand on top of the pod and gaze at the ocean, the burning ship or the huge red planet in the sky, but the real magic, and fear, happens down below. In the nearby waters you will find small fish, corals, wreckage and other items, and all creatures harmless, but as you create air tanks to go further and deeper you will find larger creatures to steer clear of.
The day and night cycle is relatively quick, and both has its merits. At night the sky opens up to the stars and the moon, while underwater the luminous plants come alive. Graphically though, I could sit on that pod and look at the sky for ages, it’s pretty awesome, and underwater there are strange sounds which added a little fear into the mix.
Survival in this game isn’t about not being killed, but to live too. You need to craft drinkable water, and find edible plants or fish. Some can be eaten raw, others cooked with the fabricator and stored for later. Once you have basic survival mastered, exploration is the next step. Find those materials, bring them back to the pod and craft more items. You can start to repair the pod, build extra rooms, maybe find other survivors or even find a way off the planet? Maybe even reach the crash site of your mothership for more advanced items? I wouldn’t like to spoil the discovery for you!
It would appear that there may be no limits as to how far you can swim in this game, or how deep, or what creatures are lurking in the depths, but I am looking forward to finding out. This is a really nice, fresh new concept to the survival genre, and the developers really appear to want to make it work. The game has a built in feedback feature which can be used during the game. You can write a short description and fire it off to them anonymously. The only couple of niggles I found was the framerate, yet this is Preview, so that’s entirely forgivable, and the inventory system. There’s only a limited amount of items you can carry on your person, but there’s even less on board the pod. I would have thought the pod would be able to carry more. You can, however, build floating storage pods if you’re running out of space.
If you prefer your games a little tougher, you can choose from different styles of play. There is the typical Survival mode, which means you need to feed and eat, however there is Freedom, which takes away the worry of food. You could choose Hardcore, which gives you a single life, lose it, and Game Over. Lastly there is Creative, where you simply churn out any item you want, start building your habitat and head off exploring the unknown.
This underwater survival game brings in a fresh twist to the genre. Scavenge materials to build a bigger habitat and explore this alien water world filled with caves, volcanoes and deadly creatures. Subnautica is truly captivating in style, gameplay and content with plenty of longevity.