February 11, 2023Subnautica Review (2023 Game Review)

There’s just something enticing about an underwater adventure game that really piques my interest, and Subnautica is just that kind of game.

Diving deep into the world of Subnautica is one of the few moments where I wanted the whole game to keep replaying in my mind. This underwater adventure game is full of depth and gets even better as you plunge even deeper into the depths of the alien sea world of Subnautica. But before you think that you’re getting a fluffy underwater adventure game, then think again. You’ll be in for a ride in a horrifyingly beautiful underwater game where only the fittest and most clever can survive the monstrous creatures and blood-curdling zones of the deepest depths of the sea.

Subnautica is a beautiful survival adventure game dressed in sheep’s clothing. The key word here is survival. On the surface, Subnautica showcases how beautiful the sea is and the different sea alien creatures that live on the seafloor. But the game is something more than meets the eye. As you get to explore even deeper and the day gets darker, you’ll experience terrifying moments that are quite different and at a more horrifying level than your typical “gets-possessed-ghosty” horror games.

There are many reasons to adore Subnautica, not just for its stunning open-world setting but also for its deep and gripping story and its mechanics.

word image 100384 1

Photo Credits to Steam

Release Date: January 23, 2018
Developer/Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment/Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Genre: Open-world, Underwater-Adventure, Survival Game
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows, macOS
Metacritic Score: 87%
Steam Review: Overwhelmingly Positive
  • PC Gamer 2018: Best Survival Game
  • Golden Joysticks 2018: PC Game of the Year
  • Game Informer 2018: Best Exploration Game

The game starts when you’re abruptly ejected from your starship onto an alien world because you were shot down by a huge-ass laser as you were passing through the alien planet, where you landed in their sea. Beyond the life pod you were ejected from, you’re forced to go deep down and explore deeper in order to find a way to survive against the thousands of different creatures that live on the seafloor. The questions of why you were shot down by the laser, what happened to the rest of your crew, what happened to the rest of your spaceship, and how to get back to your home world will remain unanswered unless you go into the depths of the sea to find out why.

Similar to a lot of survival games. Subnautica is a game where you have to figure out almost everything on your own. When you were shot down by the laser, aside from your life pod, a magical fabricator that can turn things from the ecosystem into equipment you can use to survive, came crashing down with you. Your fabricator is a piece of equipment that can craft different things; from food and water to equipment that will help you survive. Now, it’s up to you to go deep down to the seafloor to find different biomes so you can create equipment to survive. However, what you might find in the deep sea, which is brimming with different biomes and creatures, might not be quite ideal for someone as unequipped as you.

Subnautica will force you to go deeper to explore different biomes that will help you survive. And as you navigate deeper into the sea, you’ll see both the beauty and the horrific scenes of Subnautica.

With an alien ocean filled with biomes and creatures you’re not familiar with, you’re definitely going to find some useful things. But don’t be surprised if you find a creature that’s swimming to kill you. With an ocean so deep (and in an alien world at that), you’re bound to find something even less than ideal.

As you explore the sea below, you’ll find different bases, both human and alien. Bases let you build an outpost from which you can venture out and investigate Subnautica’s wide ocean. Aside from the bases you find that are already there, you can also create your own bases in different zones. This is also where you can create different equipment using your fabricator and a modification station inside your base.

While you can kill small alien fish to cook and eat, killing other bigger creatures by any means is quite hard and impossible. At the start of the game, you actually only have a knife to defend yourself. But even after you’ve built different seabases, a submarine, and other technology, you’re still left unarmed against anything deadly that the nightmarish creatures of Subnautica have in store for you. Despite the common mechanics of most survival games, where you have to kill to survive, Subnautica has many options to survive against the different creatures, one of which is to flee. Subnautica is a survival game where, if the player chooses not to, nearly no creature ever needs to be killed.

Since Subnautica is a game that is brimming with killer creatures that are virtually impossible to kill, the atmosphere becomes much more terrifying knowing you don’t have a big chance of winning against them. Moreover, unlike a game set on land where you only have to check front, back, left, and right, in Subnautica you have to check from up and down too. It might be easy to do during the day, but when night comes, you won’t know what’s coming at you from all sides until it’s gotten to you. That alone terrifies the shit out of me, but then add the different creepy sounds from the game, and it’s a totally different heart-pounding story. And I don’t know if it’s just me, but hearing the different creatures that lurk around, especially the eerie sound of the ocean just creeps me out so much.

The cherry on top is that Subnautica does an excellent job of weaving a gripping storyline around its survival mechanics. The very first moments of the game will lead you to discover the answers to the questions that have been plaguing your mind. As you look through the not-so-lucky life pods of your crewmates, you’ll find blueprints, information, and other voice logs. As the game progresses, you’ll find out that your crash wasn’t an accident. The laser that shot you down actually had a good purpose, which you’ll have to find out on your own.

Subnautica is a game that will give each player a different experience because something I find within the first few minutes of the game might not be the same thing a different player will also find. Each experience and playthrough is different and unique to the player, which makes this game even more fun than it already is.

I liked how the storyline developed. The game offers huge and small details to keep you progressing if you want to complete a given goal. Subnautica also allows you to interact with the different zones and creatures as much as you like and at your own speed. Subnautica was one of the most gripping and compelling games I’ve ever played. I may be biased, but I find the unending diversity of marine life to be fascinating. Additionally, Unknown Worlds deserves praise for how gripping and beautifully horrifying the game they created is.

Final Verdict

Subnautica is one of the few underwater survival adventure games I truly adore. This game has set the bar for what similar game genres should strive to be. It’s a fresh and unique take on what might lie down deep in the ocean. Subnautica is a must-play game that has struck my mind with endless questions and different possibilities. And even with hours of gameplay, Subnautica has more to give, which I’m more than willing to delve deeper into.

For more article reviews like this, check out our blog here.