Need to know
What is it: Underwater survival sequel with a new arctic theme
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Reviewed On: AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM
Link: Official site (opens in new tab)
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2018’s Subnautica is not only the best survival game in existence, but one of the best games ever made regardless of genre. Its wondrous mix of exploration, storytelling, crafting, base building, and occasional trouser-shredding terror, all taking place in one of the most imaginative virtual worlds ever conceived, is up there with games like the Witcher 3 and Dishonored in terms of mastery of the craft.
Subnautica: Below Zero is almost as good. I say that rather than “not as good”, as I don’t want to sound like I’m writing from a position of disappointment. In almost every way, Below Zero shares the wild imagination, adventurous spirit, and richly tactile systems of Subnautica, while there are several areas where it undoubtedly improves upon that first game. Nonetheless, Below Zero is a less consistently brilliant adventure. There are some areas where the game frustrates, and others where Unknown World’s admirable efforts are less effective than they were three years ago.
(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)
Again though, it’s vital to stress that even the “bad” bits of Below Zero are good by most other standards. Below Zero may not improve on Subnautica, but it’s still an excellent game. There are incredible features I haven’t even mentioned, like the sound design. If you really want to know what Below Zero is about, stop anywhere in the game’s ocean and listen. Listen to the roar of the current, the pitter-patter of hail splashing into the surface above, the echolocating calls of glow-whales, the piercing shrieks of creatures that you really don’t want to find you. It’s some of the best sound design I’ve ever encountered, and that I only got to it while summing up should give you some inkling of how good Below Zero ultimately is.
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