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    dkirschner's Subnautica (PC)

    [September 12, 2022 09:29:41 AM]
    This is the first survival game Iíve put time into and really enjoyed! Iím so happy I found an exemplar of the genre. Since I havenít played many survival games (though Iíve played plenty with survival elements, including recently completed Metro Exodus), I canít well compare this with others. But I can say why I liked this one.

    The game begins with you hurtling through the atmosphere of a planet and crashing into its ocean. Chaos! Your ship has exploded, the crew who managed to eject in life pods are scattered in the surrounding ocean. You lose consciousness and wake up to an insistent life support system. Take care of that, exit the hatch of your life pod, and behold the open ocean, calm, beautiful. Except for the burning wreck of the Aurora, your ship, in the near distance, leaking radiation.

    Subnautica immediately establishes that the water world around you is beautiful, intriguing, and deadly. Colorful, cute fish swim near the life pod. Vibrant corals and plants with long stalks and luminescent seeds sway in the current. Youíll quickly be given some tasks, though. Read the survival manual and listen to radio distress beacons to figure out that (a) you need food and water, (b) you need to establish a safe base, (c) you should try to reach other survivors, and (d) other instructions that I donít remember.

    This begins a constant progression that didnít slow down for many hours of gameplay. The progression occurs in terms of narrative, construction, and exploration. Narratively, you uncover what happened to crew members, their life pods, and other ships. You also catalog flora and fauna and learn about the ocean planet. Eventually, distress beacons from crashed life pods are too deep for you to dive, or surrounded by dangerous predators, or may just be really, really far away. Sometimes narrative events are set to occur in the future, like when a nearby ship catches the Auroraís distress signal and announces a time and location for rescue. Iíll give you one guess as to how that goes; the rescue scene filled me with dread.

    Youíll need to construct tools, vehicles, and a better base to reach, explore, and survive in new places (ocean biomes, as the game calls them). There are tons of things to fabricate (craft). Youíll be swimming around collecting ores and blueprints to build a laser cutting tool (cut metal, useful for exploring wrecks), a Seamoth (your first vehicle that offers some protection from the outside), fins that let you swim faster, O2 tanks that let you dive deeper, rooms for your base that let you scan for resources or store more items or use fish to generate power, and so on.

    This is actually one point of improvement I have for the UI. It is not easy to search items to fabricate or to inventory what you need to fabricate more complex items. It would be useful if there was a search box so that you donít have to scroll through 100 items looking for the one you want. It would also be useful if more complex items listed all the individual components they need. For example, building the Seamoth requires 1 Titanium Ingot, 1 Power Cell, 2 Glass, and 1 Lubricant. Each of these things requires some combination of other things (such as 2 Batteries and 1 Silicon Rubber for a Power Cell). Sometimes those things require still another combination of things (such as 2 Acid Mushrooms and 1 Copper Ore for a Battery). Without a search function, or a more comprehensive list of components for complex items, it is a chore! I canít imagine the hell in doing this with a controller. I would prefer that the Seamoth blueprint tell me whatís in a Titanium Ingot, whatís in a Power Cell, etc. right on its fabrication page. Honestly, the game would be a magnitude shorter without time spent going back and forth in fabrication menus.

    But progression through fabrication is fun nonetheless because it leads you to new places for materials. Narrative, construction, and exploration are all tied together well, as you are led with a constant trail of breadcrumbs to the next thing. At some point, though, the trail slows, and this is when I lost interest in continuing. I had built the big daddy submarine, which is basically its own mobile base. At the depths the sub can go exist leviathan class creatures, huge sea serpents and things that will wreck your vehicles and eat you for breakfast. I began to lose patience as my survival became more precarious. The final straw was when my sub caught fire. I was like a mile away from my base and I had one fire extinguisher on board (I didnít even know it could catch fire!). The fire extinguisher ran out and the sub still burned. Every time I died, it spawned me back on the burning sub. Iíd leave the ship and get killed by a leviathan. Return to the ship and get killed by smoke inhalation. This was a reload-to-an-earlier-save situation, but I decided to call it and watch the rest on YouTube. I didnít spoil the main mystery here, but there is something else going on (of course there is!) that you will be unraveling. It turns out I wasnít that near the end of the game. Iíd built a lot of the major equipment, but needed a lot of upgrades and access to materials I hadnít yet discovered, which meant using the sub to enter deeper waters.

    Are other survival games like this? Are they this intense? This beautiful? Do they have better crafting UIs? Pros and cons of some others? Others to recommend?
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    Status

    dkirschner's Subnautica (PC)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated

    GameLog started on: Sunday 14 August, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Monday 12 September, 2022

    Opinion
    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Really intriguing! Oddly scary. -------- Great game. Lost interest after my sub caught fire a mile from my base though.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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