Monday, July 19, 2021

Reader Submitted: Game Review - Subnautica: Below Zero

By Rita Mariner

I will be commenting on Unknown World's latest release, Subnautica: Below Zero. This video game has been in testing for two years.  I started playing it, on STEAM, in the experimental mode, at that time.  Since then the game has gone through several rewrites, primarily due to change in writers.

Below Zero still plays in the four basic  modes of the first game.  Survival, where you have to watch and manage your air, food, water and health. Freedom, where you only worry about air and health.  Hardcore, where you have to manage air, food, water, health and you get no PDA prompts reminding you, so if you die. YOUR DONE and have to start all over from scratch.  Then Creative, where you worry about nothing, you get everything at the beginning and you just poke around and do whatever you like. I would get bored in like two minutes.

In Below Zero, you play Robin Ayou, a female, Xenobiologist, who comes to Planet 4546B, to investigate the death of her sister Sam Ayou.  You aren't buying Alterra's story she died from negligence. While here you discover and get stuck in your head a rather annoying alien. So between investigating your sister's death, you now have to help an alien, so you can kick him out of your head.

Now for the good points of the game I have found.  The alien world is beautiful, lots of great detail, interesting new plants and creatures you get to investigate. The idea you are playing a female character, this time is a nice touch.  When you get a message to listen to, on the PDA, the face of the person talking will appear in your HUD, I like that. There are several references back to the first game, if you find them. Some of the plants and creatures you will encounter are brought over from the first game, but the bulk of the creatures and plants are all new and you will need to check them all out to see if they are useful, or not. One of the more interesting creatures, is the Sea Monkey, or Sea Thief! They look cute, but if you swim around them, with any of your tools out, it becomes THEIRS! You can swim after them and attempt to get it back.  

There are many bases and wrecks to explore and you will need to do that to collect all the blueprints you will need for the game. Make sure to make beacons to mark them, encase you need to return to any of them later.

Now for the parts of the game I wasn't to thrilled with.  One is right at the beginning.  Our character PLANNED to come to Planet 4546B. She knows where she is going is COLD! Yet the only item she brings with her is 3 bottles of water, 3 nutrient bars and a PDA?  She doesn't bring a full set of basic tools and a COLD SUIT! She is suppose to be this experienced xenobiologist, and planned this trip and brings NOTHING with her?  PLEASE!

The next thing they never explain is, why did ALTERRA leave the planet, no one from ALTERRA is there, period.  Also at the KOPPA MINING SITE, there are no habitats for an office, crew break room, power supply and storage.  Plus they have drillable chunks of Titanium, Copper, Ruby, Gold, Diamonds, Quartz, in the game, but no Lead or Lithium and you need a boatload of those two items, in this game. Since they changed most of the blueprint recipes around.

There are several new leviathans in the game, a couple you want to avoid at all costs, especially if your outside your Sea Truck or Prawn Suit, they can KILL You.  The Chelicarate and the Shadow Leviathan. Even then, they will put a serious hurt on your Sea Truck or Prawn Suit. Unless you have the Perimeter Defense Module for the Sea Truck.

Which brings me to the Sea Truck, I hate it! If All I had to do was haul stuff from point A to point B, it does okay.  Unfortunately, that's not all you need it to do.  You have to explore!  The Sea Truck is ill-suited for that job. It gets caught on everything, plants damage it,  hard to control and clumsy.  I have gotten to the point I explore the Sea Monkey Tunnels, near The Pilot's Last Reported Position, in my Prawn Suit.

Is Below Zero a bad game? No, it's playable and can be enjoyable, but it could have been so much better.

Rita Mariner

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