Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Format: Xbox One, PC
Released: January 23, 2017
Copy purchased

If you were to Google Subnautica you’d be hard pressed to find a review that wasn’t a huge thumbs up, and with good reason. I personally love this amazing underwater adventure, but for a game like this a straight-up review didn’t feel right. It wouldn’t be half as fun just talking about what makes this game work, so let’s dive right into the deep end instead. I’ve taken plenty of snapshots as I’ve been playing, so now I’ll take you through the stories around some of my favourite photos from Subnautica.

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Here’s my home away from home, the first base of operations I built. What started as a few hastily built corridors has slowly expanded to include a Scanner Room for resource gathering and recently even a shiny new Moonpool to let me park my smaller vehicles somewhere safe. Despite having to fork out some considerable resources to afford the bigger rooms the simple snap-together construction makes putting together a fancy new base, well, a snap! There’s even a little garden out the front that I can grow useful crops in, though I don’t tend to it as often as I should. I’ve peppered the ocean floor with a few other bases but this one holds a special place in my heart for being the first safe haven I built myself.

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After quite a few hours of exploration I had a bit of downtime where I wasn’t really focused on doing anything, beyond wandering the various biomes to see the sights and gather what resources I could find. I stumbled into a lovely mushroom forest filled with strange jelly rays that were a wonder to watch as they swirled around the trees chirping. My nimble little Seamoth submersible could weave through even the denser areas with surprising ease, much to my joy. I couldn’t really find many other objects of interest though, until I noticed a rather large creature circling just past the surrounding “trees”.

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Now I’ve seen Reaper Leviathans before when I was exploring an underwater mountain, but that had been a shadowy figure in the distance which I’d carefully avoided. This fellow was rather a lot closer and didn’t seem to take too kindly to my presence. Luckily the mushroom trees were a handy source of cover from which to watch it from the safety of my Seamoth.

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Turns out that a Reaper Leviathan can in fact navigate the Mushroom Forest and is indeed more than happy to attack a Seamoth, which is able to nestle quite comfortably into its four enormous mandible talons. I was incredibly lucky to make it out of there alive.

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My poor Seamoth was nearly torn in half from that encounter, but I managed to limp to the safety of the deeper forests where I could repair the hull. Once my sub had stopped leaking water I decided to head back to somewhere safe and much more peaceful. The above beast is a Reefback, a gentle giant that loves to swim close to the surface of the ocean with its pod mates. When there’s more than one of them in the area they’ll often call out to each other in deep sonorous bellows, which once scared me quite a lot but are now almost as relaxing and comforting as whale calls. I decided to gather some materials nearby so they could keep me company.

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Bonesharks are quite territorial and less than pleasantly tempered but compared to the enormous threat of a Reaper it was actually a little fun to encroach on their territory, just to get a few good shots as they swam around. The darkness of the evening highlighted their glowing eyes quite nicely, especially against the backdrop of all the other bioluminescent flora and fauna.

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Days and nights of resource hunting expeditions finally paid off, giving me the tools needed to craft my very own Prawn mech-suit. Dressing it in cool colours and stamping it with the name “Marauder”, I was ready to explore deeper than ever before. A heavily armoured mechanical suit felt much safer than the adorable Seamoth, now named “Reaperbait” in honour of our previous expeditions. What’s more, I was able to upgrade Marauder with a grappling hook arm almost immediately, like a cumbersome underwater robotic Spiderman.

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Marauder and I plodded merrily across the ocean floor, following a few alerts and generally feeling a wee bit more invincible than I did before. It’s one thing to swim over the Grassy Plateaus but to wade through the gently drifting Bloodgrass, safe in my armoured exoskeleton, was something else. There’s access to some rather majestic cave formations deeper in the fields of red plant life, and I’d been looking forward to investigating them more thoroughly.

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Despite the presence of these giant eel-like creatures, this cave network is one of my favourite areas. A combination of startlingly beautiful glowing flora offset by the claustrophobic nature of the darker areas of this cavern makes exploration an enticingly alien experience.

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The next cave system on my list was rather deeper and altogether more dangerous, despite also being quite well lit. The exotic floating orbs of soft blue light tethered to the seabed by tangled tendrils add a whole new feel to this area, and racing around them to avoid the deadly threats lurking nearby became my new routine. By far the most unsettling creature to make its home here is the Crabsquid, a bloated translucent thing that propels itself through the water on spindly crab-like legs. The most unsettling thing about the creature is the echolocation it uses to navigate, loud eerie clicking that you can usually hear well before you can see the source.

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Now I’ve managed to find myself spelunking in a cave system over 600 metres down from the surface, filled with a silently flowing underwater river. The atmosphere and the aggressive fauna has put me on edge, while the twisted nature of these natural caverns left me dreading trying to find my way back out. And to top it all off there’s something in these eerie depths that has raised more questions than it has answered, but that’s a story for another day…

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Writer: Jack Soric
Editor: Tristan Venables
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