Subnautica shoots you down onto an ocean planet, stranded, and the only thing that separates you from the deep dark abyss that is the ocean is your lifepod. You are the only survivor, and your goal is to survive the unknown and somehow, in some way, escape.
This is a first-person survival and adventure game, set in a mostly underwater environment. Players are able to explore the open world, collecting resources to create tools, buildings, and even underwater vehicles, while completing different tasks and triggering storyline advancements.
Game site: http://subnauticagame.com/
Gameplay demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9FTfbDeN4Q
The Elemental Tetrad:
Played in first person, Subnautica has a standard and intuitive exploration mechanic. Players have the freedom of swimming through the ocean in three dimensions, and are able to interact with the environment through grabbing or hitting objects.
As a mostly underwater game, the player also has “needs”, such as food, water, and most important of all, oxygen. Food and water is easily replenished through making use of the abundant sources in the ocean. On the other hand, oxygen can be replenished through either surfacing from the ocean, or later in the game, through vehicles that the player constructs.
The player also constantly constructs new equipment to improve themselves, which allows for exploration further and deeper into the ocean, which subsequently unlocks new content for storyline progression.
The world of Subnautica takes place in the futuristic setting where humans have gone beyond the solar system, and begun to colonise other worlds. Your ship has been sent to a particular star system in search of a ship lost ten years ago when it crashed on a planet 4546B. Upon reaching orbit, your ship was struck down by a mysterious energy pulse, leaving you stranded on the planet as the sole survivor.
The story was told through PDA records left by past survivors, as well as interactions that happen between the player and the PDA’s AI. This does not create an information dump on the player, and allows them to experience the story as they proceed through the world at their own pace.
Subnautica was developed with the Unity Engine, and is available on both Windows and macOS, a blessing for macOS users.
The ocean world of Subnautica is a gigantic handcrafted map, which consists of a large variety of biomes throughout the world that have their own flair that doesn’t get old. There are also biome-specific enemies which make the experience more interesting, even for long-time players.
Lens 6: Curiosity
The game piques the player’s interest with the presence of eye-catching objects or creatures that the player might find. Chase it down too much though, and you might actually end up running out of oxygen, or get chased by an unexpected creature.
With blueprints that are scattered around the ocean, players can’t help but be curious about the purpose of the tool that it unlocks for them, and the places that the new equipment might bring them in their journey into the depths of the ocean.
Lens 27: Time
Subnautica does not force players to complete any tasks or missions within any sort of time constraints, which allows players to move on whenever they feel well prepared enough. However, personally this might end up making the gameplay longer than necessary. The game might feel too boring if the story is not driven fast enough, especially if the player does not know what else to do and end up wandering aimlessly without progress for too long.
This does have its benefits, as players can choose to farm for resources early on to make themselves more well prepared for the dangers that may arise later on.
Lens 32: Goals
The game leads the player to its goal through quest beacons which direct them to further the storyline. Furthermore, the crafting system for Subnautica also allows the player to set their own goals; to collect materials for the equipment or tool that they might be hoping to obtain, or even to defeat the creature they could not defeat before.
Lens 94: Atmosphere
Light penetrating the shallow waters create a warm and safe environment in the early game in the biome where the player starts out. Different biomes may also have special lighting and terrain, which can evoke a sense of awe in the player visiting them for the first time. As the exploration gets further away and deeper, different features start to show, most notably the drop in visibility in deeper regions. This pairs extremely well with the uncertainty of deep ocean creatures which may be lurking in the hidden depths.
The sound effects enhance the experience further, adding environmental sounds and even the roars of the marine creatures, which definitely add to the feeling of terror when you are exploring the deep darkness and trying your best to stay alive.