games reviews

Review — Subnautica 

Subnautica is a resource gathering game that will keep you diving in for more.

While underwater video games have a notoriously bad rep dating back to the original Super Mario games, Unknown World Entertainment took a dreaded and often clunky gameplay mechanic created an entire adventure centered on testing new waters.

Title: Subnautica
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Year: 2014 (Early Access)
Genre: Survival
Price: $19.99

After crashing your spaceship onto an alien planet, you emerge from a small escape pod to find yourself in the middle of a vast oceanic world.

You also find your intergalactic vessel on fire and in a radioactive meltdown, prompting a realization that you might want to get your feet wet and make yourself at home.

Subnautica’s environment is inhabited with a variety of luminous creatures whose neon colors would seem appropriate for the Las Vegas skyline — but instead of a desert backdrop, the creatures light a sea filled with resources that can be used to improve your stay.

The variety of raw materials can be used to make new equipment and toys to aid your undersea quests and to build new sea-bases.

Crafting in the game starts fairly simple – you place your gathered resources in a fabricator within your pod to create new items. The magic box on the wall may seem a bit of a simplistic approach in a game centered on resource gathering an crafting, but it does allow players to focus their time and attention on exploring the game’s waters and not a workbench.

Adventuring in the game is not so simple. The deeper into the wondrous waters you go, the better the haul of materials you’ll recover. But those waters are filled with more hostile and terrifying wildlife.

Subnautica is an exploration game at heart, but it certainly has elements of horror lurking within. You’ll understand upon meeting a Reaper Leviathan or two.

Armed with limited weaponry and protection at the start of the game, the player must be cautious and mindful of which aquatic foes to challenge. The gameplay is best understood as gathering materials to craft better equipment that will allow you to go get even better materials to craft even better equipment. Rinse and repeat.

Eventually you will have the ability to construct full settlements on the world, if you have the patience for the hours of grinding needed to get the amount of materials you’ll need.

Originally released in December 2014, the game is still in the early access stage — but you wouldn’t know it by its gameplay. It is relatively bug-free at this point and offers hours of content. It’s also frequently updated with new content, including expansions.

For all the positive aspects of the game, it should be recognized that Subnautica lacks of a story and the sandbox-nature of the game means you will eventually run out of things to do in its world. Although some might say that mindlessly standing alone on the planet is kind of a fitting conclusion to the stranded experience.

Fairly-polished, ambitious, and most importantly, fun, Subnautica separates itself from the pool of broken Early Access releases on Steam and has already established itself as a quality title with depth suitable to fill its wondrous oceans.

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