A little while ago one of my friends recommended that I play Subnautica. I had seen it in passing, but I never really thought to play, it just never looked like something I would enjoy. I’m not a very big fan of survival games. There are only very specific conditions that I enjoy survivals; apparently, it’s the “Space Aspect”. However, after giving the game a shot, I quickly grew to enjoy the experience. Easily sinking well over 30 hours into it.
I noted before that I don’t really enjoy survival games, and the truth is, I still don’t. Subnautica is an anomaly, mostly because of the gorgeous hand-crafted world. Exploration in Subnautica, especially in the early game, was really a sight to behold. Its intricate biomes, colourful creatures, all of whom had real world inspiration, especially in their AI. Watching schools of fish interact in this game made me feel as though I had been watching a National Geographic documentary. You can visually see the attention to detail the developers put into this game.
It doesn’t just stop with the animals’ AI, the entire world was hand-crafted, every nook and cranny, all the cave systems, and they all blended so well together.
Am I dying?
However, no matter how gorgeous anything is, without substance, what is it really? Subnatica uses its in-game objects to brilliantly introduce the player to a much larger narrative, with each plot point building on the previous in an almost exponential track upwards. The game quickly directs the player to its next stop almost seamlessly, from fixing your destroyed and radiating space ship, the Aurora, to discovering the Aurora’s secondary mission, learning of your infection, gathering research data from an ancient alien race, and interacting with massive leviathan class creature thousands of years old, in a narrative that was incredibly well written.
I want to know more.
Subnautica’s narrative was so captivating for me, that I couldn’t help but want to learn more about the planet I had been marooned on. There is so much more about the Precursors that I would like to know, like were they sentient plant-based lifeforms? How did they walk, talk, what exactly did they do? Were they peaceful? Warlike? Did they know the meaning of life? What about the game’s end goal? The Sea Emperor Leviathan? What were they like before the infection? Now that the planet is cured will we see more of them? There is genuinely so much of this world I want to know more of.
The developers did such a good job fleshing out the world’s lore that many of my points can be inferred from in-game tidbits, but still. The way the game presented its lore always kept me invested, to the point where I had begun looking for answers to questions that simply weren’t there.
Cold is Below Zero
The game was extremely so well received by the public, that the developers have opted to create a standalone expansion called Subnautica: Below Zero. This will be set after the events of the main game, expanding the lore of the planet even further with the introduction of a new Arctic mega-biome. Remember the infection I spoke about earlier? Well, developer Unknown Worlds, confirmed that the bacteria are the ancestor of a bacterium found in another one of their other games. They are building a whole universe, and I can’t wait for it.
I understand why people enjoyed Subnautica. The world building, the environment, the attention to detail, the narrative. While there were some parts of the game that I really didn’t mesh with, I still enjoyed the game, and all the little components that really brought it all together in the end. I look forward to Subnautica: Below Zero.