Content of the article: "Just “finished”, and have some thoughts"
First off, I think the Subnautica was one of the best games I've ever played. And this game lives up to it pretty well. It doesn't surpass it, however, and I easily think it could have. Personally, I feel they doubled down on the wrong elements of Subnautica.
I thought the story of the first Subnautica was a big miss. It felt like a dime store sci-fi paperback, with all these aliens and macguffins and things that don't make much sense under the slightest scrutiny. Unknown Worlds might perhaps be the best company in the world at creating interesting environments that you want to explore. But their storytelling is just mediocre, sorry to say. It's not what made Subnautica special, at all.
So in Below Zero, I was a bit disappointed to see that they were doubling down on the story elements. The first version that I played a year ago, really leaned into the story, and felt like a big mess to me. This version scales it back a lot, which was a great move. They put you right into the action, and don't hammer you over the head with dull exposition. The story still isn't very good. And next to the amazing world, it feels so out of place. What I really wish the developers would believe, is that their game doesn't need a story at all. At least, a fancy sci-fi story with all this silly stuff happening. All you need is a reason you're on the planet, and a large goal.
On a more practical level, I felt the end game areas were a disappointment compared to the first game. I mean, the Lost River and Magma Chambers were just incredible. Who didn't love that? You felt like an intruder in an extremely hostile world, barely getting by with your ingenuity. The crystal caves just feel very underwhelming. It's just gray rock with some purple crystals scattered around.
The cold mechanics feel a bit underwhelming too. To anyone who has jumped into freezing water, the concept of doing that to warm up is absolutely hilarious. I'm not too interested in realism I guess, but I thought they could have done a lot more with it. Certain underwater areas could have been extra treacherous, requiring special tools and equipment to overcome. It's also a bit funny that a game called "Below Zero" has endgame areas that are a pleasant 30C. Is it just me, or is it so obvious that the final area should be so unbearably cold that you are frozen solid the second you enter?
Anyway, that's enough grousing. I'll always play any Subnautica game they put out and love it.
- Critique of Below Zero
- I have a strange love for mysterious and underutilized areas in games.
- Does Metro Redux 2033 get better?
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