Subnautica Cover Art



Thalassophobia is the fear of the sea. It's a common enough fear for those who visit the ocean, but it's quite unexploited in the world of games. Subnautica is a thalassophobic's nightmare, but it's also one of the most beautiful and charming survival games on the market.

Subnautica places the player...[read more below]

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Subnautica taught me what thalassophobia means


Thalassophobia is the fear of the sea. It's a common enough fear for those who visit the ocean, but it's quite unexploited in the world of games. Subnautica is a thalassophobic's nightmare, but it's also one of the most beautiful and charming survival games on the market.


Subnautica places the player in the shoes of the last survivor of the Aurora, a starship that's recently crashed on the watery planet of 4546B. While the initial goal of the player is simply to figure out a way to survive on the hostile planet, it quickly becomes apparent that there's more going on. After fairly substantial early game twist, the player is thrust into the deep ocean and into a plot that will find him or her seeking a way off the planet.

Graphics & Audio

Graphically, Subnautica is a treat. The visuals are deceptively pretty, with a cartoony style that really stands out the deeper you go. Special mention needs to go to the lighting design, which really stands out when night falls. It's a beautiful and alien world, one where you'll always feel just a little out of place. The game's not quite as photorealistic as some of the leaders in the genre, though, and there are definitely some that might be turned off by the art style when they see it up close.

The sound design is what really stands out, though. From the robotic voices of your equipment to the sounds of metal buckling under pressure, you'll remember these sounds long after the game ends. Special praise needs to go to the creature sound design - you'll be able to identify most of the important sea life by sound after a few hours of playing the game.


The gameplay of Subnautica is, at its heart, a fairly standard survival loop. Find materials, build devices, and use those devices to travel farther and to mine other materials. Subnautica is a bit more directed than the typical open-world survival game and there is an ultimate goal, but most of your time will be spent in the typical loop. The game does really come alive once you start to build more complex vehicles and housing, though, with a few extra layers of management and a number of new options opening up about halfway through the game.

The game itself has variable difficulties, with the easiest modes requiring minimal resource management and the hardest providing a major challenge to even experienced survival veterans. The hardcore mode really does punish even minor mistakes, though, so it's not recommended for those who haven't played through at least once.


Subnautica is an exceptional survival game that marries a fantastic art style with an atypically compelling survival system. While the story is a bit slight and some of the mechanics can feel like a retreat of other games, it's nonetheless a delight. It's absolutely worth a play.


Subnautica is an underwater survival game that is one of the best in the genre.

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From the Developers

What follows is the official description of Subnautica, from the developers.

Subnautica is an underwater adventure game set on an alien ocean planet. A massive, open world full of wonder and peril awaits you!

Dive Into a Vast Underwater World

You have crash-landed on an alien ocean world, and the only way to go is down. Subnautica's oceans range from sun drenched shallow coral reefs to treacherous deep-sea trenches, lava fields, and bio-luminescent underwater rivers. Manage your oxygen supply as you explore kelp forests, plateaus, reefs, and winding cave systems. The water teems with life: Some of it helpful, much of it harmful.

Scavenge, Craft, and Survive

After crash landing in your Life Pod, the clock is ticking to find water, food, and to develop the equipment you need to explore. Collect resources from the ocean around you. Craft diving gear, lights, habitat modules, and submersibles. Venture deeper and further form to find rarer resources, allowing you to craft more advanced items.

Construct Underwater Habitats

Build bases on the sea floor. Choose layouts and components, and manage hull-integrity as depth and pressure increase. Use your base to store resources, park vehicles, and replenish oxygen supplies as you explore the vast ocean.

Unravel the Mystery

What happened to this planet? Signs abound that something is not right. What caused you to crash? What is infecting the sea life? Who built the mysterious structures scattered around the ocean? Can you find a way to make it off the planet alive?

Disrupt the Food Chain

The ocean teems with life: Use the ecosystem to help you. Lure and distract a threatening creature with a fresh fish, or simply swim as fast as you can to avoid gnashing jaws of roaming predators.

Handle the Pressure

Build a Pressure Re-Active Waterproof Nanosuit, or PRAWN Suit, and explore extreme depth and heat. Modify the suit with mining drills, torpedo launchers, propulsion cannons, grappling hooks and more.

Fear the Night

As the sun goes down, the predators come out. The ocean is unforgiving of those caught unprepared in the darkness. Areas that are safe to explore during the day become treacherous at night, but also reveal a beauty that those who hide from the darkness will never see.

Dive Below the Ocean Floor

Cave systems wind below the sea bed, from dark claustrophobic passages to caverns lit by bio-luminescent life and burning-hot lava flows. Explore the world below the ocean floor, but watch your oxygen levels, and take care to avoid the threats lurking in the darkness.

Open Development

Get weekly or daily updates, see what the development team is working on, view real time change logs, and give feedback from inside the game. Subnautica Early Access development is open, and the development team wants to hear from you.

About the Development Team

Subnautica is being created by Unknown Worlds, a small studio founded by Charlie Cleveland and Max McGuire that traces its roots back to the 2003 Half-Life mod Natural Selection. The team is scattered around the globe, from the United States to the United Kingdom, France, the Czech Republic, Russia, Thailand, Australia, and many more places. There is a central office in San Francisco, California that serves as home base for the whole team.

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