The Subnautica review

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel
Author and references

Have you ever had a particularly unlucky day? One of those where if something can go wrong it will surely go worse? The protagonist of Subnautica knows something about it, since he is the only survivor of the crash of the spaceship he was working on. Sure, his colleagues are all dead and are probably more unfortunate than he is, but even being alone on a planet completely covered by water, in the company of a half-destroyed rescue pod, is not exactly an ideal situation. Fortunately, the vehicle still has some working tools, so the only thing to do is try to exploit the resources offered by the ocean to try to survive and, perhaps, escape the planet. It will not be easy.

As the game progresses, you discover fantastic creatures

Subnautica has spent more than a few years in Early Access. Unknown Worlds announced it back in 2013, just a year after the launch of the final version of the beautiful and unfortunate Natural Selection 2, and released it in 2015. The goal was clear: join the success of the survival genre, but with an original title that offered a new and, in many ways, innovative challenge. Subnautica was very successful at launch. Not at the level of Ark: Survival Evolved or Rust, but still managed to sell over a million copies. Unlike what happened with other projects, including the two just mentioned, Subnautica has never derailed and, although many features have been added over the years, the final version appears faithful to the original vision. In conclusion, player comments were heard, but luckily the crowd anxiety seen elsewhere was avoided.

Still waters

Like any self-respecting survival, Subnautica does not take the player by the hand. Of course, he gives some rudiments, but it is up to us to find out how to get by. The first thing to do is get out of the pod and dive. We immediately realize that we have ended up on a kind of shoal: the sea area around the pod is populated by generally friendly and, above all, edible fish.

There are also some collectible materials that will allow us to build the original equipment, using a device placed inside the pod. To find out how to exploit minerals, flora and fauna we just have to collect it: every time we take something, in fact, the system analyzes it and adds recipes to our inventory, telling us which raw materials are needed to make them. In the initial stages there is already a big difference compared to many other survival: exploration, with relative collection of raw materials, is exciting. The average survival usually has very long sections in which you do nothing but dig or cut trees for hours and hours (sometimes it seems to be in the office), then you build a shack that gets bigger and bigger to get you. he knows what. In Subnautica, the collection of resources is much faster: you have to dive and go in search of small rocks or fish, plumbing the seabed (when you have the right tool) and slipping into the many natural cavities present. There are not many factors to consider when exploring: health, hunger, thirst and oxygen supply. It should be noted that, although obviously they must be considered, the primary needs never oppress the player.

Exploring you will discover wonderful places

After all, there is plenty of fish and creating water and food reserves is not very complicated. Oxygen is a little more problematic, but it soon clears up with that too. The focus of the whole experience is another: the vast sea that surrounds us is less chaotic than it seems. Note that if you want it is possible to completely eliminate the survival part, playing in creative mode, so as to freely explore and build without limits.

The structure of the sea

Subnautica has a well-defined game structure, even if masked by the waves, made of concentric circles: the player starts from the center and, as he discovers new materials, thus obtaining advanced tools, he can broaden his range of action, reaching places that were previously closed to him for various reasons (too strong enemies, too deep water, radiation and more). For example, at first we have a limited supply of air for diving, but soon we are able to build tanks that allow us to stay longer on the seabed. With a torch we can instead explore the darkest cavities, with a knife we ​​can collect impregnable materials with our bare hands, while with an anti-radiation suit we can get closer to the carcass of our old ship.

Are you sure there is only the sea?

Slowly we repair the pod and build a real base, inside which we can park vehicles with which to explore the most remote areas of the planet. Depth scanners allow us to discover accesses that are not very visible to the naked eye, inside which we find new materials that unlock other technologies. Above all, exploring we find spectacular places, perhaps full of lava or iridescent mushrooms. There is no shortage of dangers, but they are part of the game. The use of a fixed map, therefore not procedurally generated, has allowed the developers to work on the scenography in order to alternate moments of research of the materials with others in which one is simply open-mouthed admiring one of the many hidden beauties under the sea. In reality Subnautica also tells a story, which pushes towards certain places: between communications and radio messages, we will soon discover the truth about the crash of our spaceship and what is really happening on the planet. We tell you nothing more so as not to spoil the surprise. Let's just add, for those wondering, that in the course of the adventure there are also some fixed narrative moments that glue the action. Nothing too invasive, fortunately.


The beauty of Subnautica is that, after the initial disorientation that makes good the mental state of someone who finds himself in an extreme condition with very few resources, we begin to follow the thread of the gameplay that makes us grow naturally together with the game.

Some discoveries are better lived than told

Having solved the problems of subsistence, he enjoys each discovery as if it were a great achievement, finding himself facing problems previously unthinkable. For those wondering, in Subnautica you can also fight. Doing so is not the focus of the experience, but it is sometimes necessary since the ocean is also populated by extremely aggressive creatures. Fortunately, by dying you are not forced to start from scratch (you just lose a few resources), unless you have selected the hardcore mode, but there is no doubt that some beasts should be removed if you want to explore in peace. Don't worry because the weapons (a knife, torpedoes, rifles of various types and others) are considered tools like others that do not obsess the gameplay. It is difficult to dive to fight, therefore, but when necessary you have to be ready to do so. As you will have understood from reading up to here, Subnautica is also very good from a technical point of view: the ocean is full of details, the water simulation is wonderful and there is so much variety of life forms to admire.

Vehicles allow you to explore deeper and more distant areas

The style is not particularly marked, but it does not matter in this context. Particular flaws are difficult to find: someone will surely miss some multiplayer mode, even if in our opinion it would have violated the gameplay, killing its charm. Others will complain about the fixed map, but we have already discussed this too in the course of the article: it is the only way to have environments so well-studied that give meaning to exploration. In short, overall Subnautica is one of the best single player survival on the square, which takes the best of the genre by discarding what doesn't work. What more could you want?

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Intel Core i7-4770 processor
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 video card
  • Windows 10 operating system

Minimum requirements

  • Windows Vista SP2 or newer 64-bit operating system
  • Intel Haswell 2 core / 4 thread @ 2.5Ghz processor or equivalent
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • Intel HD 4600 video card or equivalent - (at least 950 points in 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark)
  • DirectX 11
  • 20 GB of hard disk space

Recommended Requirements

  • Intel Haswell 4 core / 4 thread @ 3.2Ghz processor or equivalent
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • Nvidia GTX 550 Ti video card or equivalent, 2GB VRAM


Tested version PC Windows Digital Delivery Steam, Xbox Store Price 22,99 €


Readers (58)


Your vote

Subnautica is one of the best survival single player on the market, if not the best. To explore it all it takes tens of hours but, despite the large amount of content, the developers have managed to keep it coherent and interesting from start to finish. The essence is that it is a title that can thrill both those who know the genre and those who are completely fasting it. In short, despite the years spent in Early Access, it hasn't drifted away ... Okay, that's a sad joke, but you buy it anyway, also because it doesn't cost a lot.


  • Exploration is rewarding
  • It almost completely avoids the typical survival loops
  • The progression of the game
  • The narrative is used intelligently
  • Someone complains about the absence of multiplayer
  • Some complain about the absence of procedurally generated maps
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