While this game had been on my radar for quite some time, I didn't try it until it was free on the Epic store. I'm naturally drawn to open world survivey/crafty games on principle, but they run into these problems where they're either too tedious or too trivial; Don't Starve has been the only one to hold my interest for an extended time (I have about 400 hours in Don't Starve at this point).
But it turns out Subnautica isn't actually a survival game! It's an action-adventure game that uses the framework of a survival game to set up its progression and item gates, in some extremely clever ways. It even feels a bit like a Metroidvania sometimes. I marathoned it in three days, and it was great the whole way through. The progression is really smooth, and it never has to hold your hand because the systems and scenario design just sorta nudge you into progressing on your own. The way that it leverages the survival-game resource treadmill to get you to explore and discover is just really damn neat. The endgame also opened up at pretty much exactly the right time; didn't feel like the game was too short, didn't feel like "omg I'm ready for this to end already," just plain satisfying. It's also in my top games of all time in terms of ability to instill actual awe and terror.
PRAWN suit with a grappling arm breaks the game, but it's so much fun doing it that I don't mind. Once I got that I was unstoppable, and pretty much abandoned the Seamoth entirely and just used the Cyclops as a mobile resource cache and PRAWN-deployment platform. Killed each type of predatory leviathan (reapers twice and about four ghosts) with that suit by grappling the back of their neck and hanging on for dear life while punching or drilling (it took me a while to figure out that drilling had lower DPS). I got kinda dragged through the terrain mesh a few times, but always managed to get back because the grappling claw is crazy good, and I'm not gonna begrudge such a small team a few bugs like that that I know are not easy to squash (especially with how well-optimized the game is — I didn't expect it to run nearly as well on my low-end machine as it does).
So, yeah, anyway, pretty great game. I wish I had bought it earlier, but I'm sure Epic also handed over a fat check for the free-game promotion.
© Post "This game was pretty great" for game Subnautica.
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