I have been watching this game for 2-3 years. I watched JackSepticEye and NeebsGaming playing through the beta/early access versions. I held off buying until it went live (ok, I got it like 2 days early, so technically I was an early access supporter…)
TL;DR: 5/5 review.
This game is NOT 100% perfect. I had a few glitches, but since January I’ve played through the game 2.33 times. I am going to play through again ’cause I am determined to do a hardmode play through (one death, arg…); and I am not usually the person who does that. But damnit, I am going to with this game!
So what draws me so strongly to this game? Well, I will be the first person to say I love survival games. If you look at my steam hours played; Ark, Terraria, Starbound, Subnautica, Banished… survival & resource management. On my wishlist is games like “Surviving Mars”; “Y lands”; “Oxygen Not Included”; and “Eco” (though I’m waiting on that last one with more trepidation than some of the others). Still, as far as survival goes – Subnautica is one of the better games I’ve played. Although food and water are sometimes annoying, they rarely so demanding that it dominates game play (Banished is driven by food needs). Oxygen (you know, ’cause you’re swimming a lot) is more difficult to manage and adds a great element of difficulty in general.
The story is definitely where this game shines. Like diamonds in the sky shiny. You spend a few days “surviving” and getting to know your controls and needs. Then stuff starts to happen. I’m not sure how the game determines it’s time to trigger specific events, but as they begin to play out the player is drawn to the mystery that is the core of this game. I can’t talk much about the story because I do not want to give away spoilers. You should play it if you want to see the story.
Difficulty progression is also something that these developers did an excellent job of. In the beginning there aren’t a lot of super-dangerous creatures around you. They are things you can avoid just by paying attention. And that level stays pretty consistent throughout the game. Through the entire game dangers can be avoided by just paying attention; listening to the environment and everything dangerous yells it’s location pretty regularly. There isn’t a traditional weapon; all you have to “kill” things is a knife -and that’s the most lethal item in your arsenal. So you have to pay attention to the environment and keep alert for dangers – always. Even after I had every upgrade available; avoidance was my most effective survival tool.
And none of this is touching on the graphics (which is where 90% of my glitches occurred) or the sounds & music. Music isn’t constant, it has triggers and there were a few times where the music started and I started squirming in my seat “Oh, I hate when that music starts… but I have to keep going.” It is one of the few games where I just play the game. Much of my gaming I also like to watch YouTube or Netflix or something on our Plex (I’m very slowly working my way through Stargate SG-1). Not with Subnautica. I need those environmental triggers too much and want to be entirely immersed.
I give this a 5/5 because this is a: unless you refuse to ever play a video game or don’t have a computer – you should play this game; If you can bear survival games – you should play this game; If you like a good story with a mystery that you need to solve – you should play this game; When you need to immerse yourself into a fantasy world – you should play this game.
Seriously, even if survival isn’t your normal genre of gaming. If you like RPGs or adventure or GTA or shooters. Play this game; it’s worth it.