After your spaceship crashes, you survive in a lifepod that crash-waters in an ocean. Armed with your PDA, the lifepods fabricator and your wits, you set out to survive and return to civilisation. Granted, the only uncommon element in that recipe is that you’re in an ocean, but that makes Subnautica (official site, Steam) stand out in a sea of survival games.
You start your adventure, you instantly realize that most of it will be underwater, of course. And there is a whole lot of life down there, some food, while for others you will BE food, strange and stranger plants and alien illness that will befall you. Getting rid of that illness will be your primary objective. You don’t want to bring a potentially deadly disease back to your people, do you? Oh… Well, just don’t, okay?
As you progress through your adventure, there will be radio transmissions directing you to other lifepods where you can find more equipment and/or blueprints for more equipment. Spoiler: You will find that you were not the first humans to crash on this planet and also that those were not the first aliens (YOU are the alien here!) to be here, either.
An incredible level of attention went into world design, sound and music as well as story and history of the planet.
As you progress in the story, you need to find certain locations, many of which are far below sea level with only a handful of entrances. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no guidance in finding those. It’s entirely up to you to find a hole a few squaremeters in size on a 20 square kilometer play area with no mapping system to speak of. I wager that a LOT of players will just look those up on the internet, which is really sad for a game this nice.
There’s some VERY good jokes in the game which aren’t even directly delivered as such. There’s a radio transmission with a background discussion going on that cracked me up, for example. Little things, but they make the setting just so much more believable. And let’s be honest: A fight for survival needs a good laugh now and then.