A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
You're encouraged to explore an alien world, stay alive by crafting, using items for survival. You'll engage with creatures and must kill them before they can do the same to you.
Positive Role Models
Little is known about who you are; you'll unravel story by finding journals, recordings, other items. Your character simply wants to stay alive, and can decide to quietly pass by threatening underwater creatures instead of confronting them.
Ease of Play
Simple controls, easy to learn, gets challenging shortly after introduction. This open-ended underwater world requires exploration, crafting, puzzle-solving, combat. You can choose from various difficulty levels at start.
Violence & Scariness
Some fantasy violence, as you'll encounter dangerous creatures out to harm you. By using mostly melee weapons -- like a high-tech knife or a drill at the end of your ship -- you can fight back, kill underwater enemies. But again, it's mostly in self-defense. No blood seen, but some dying creatures ooze yellow liquid.
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Instances of "damn," "hell."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Subnautica is an adventure game. After crash-landing on a planet, you're tasked with exploring (mostly) underwater areas, finding items you can use (such as crafting into things you need for survival), staying alive around threatening creatures, and uncovering more of the story. There's some fantasy violence, such as using your knife to attack fish-like creatures, and there are some scary moments, too, for parents to be aware of. There are also some instances of "damn" and "hell" in dialogue.
Is It Any Good?
This is a breathtakingly beautiful, challenging, and immersive open-world adventure that grabs you from the start and doesn't let go. Subnautica -- which took more than five years to create -- is highly recommended, especially for those who love marine exploration, crafting items, and puzzle-solving, and a solid story to tie everything together. Also, for fans of horror movies and games, Subnautica does have some terrifying moments. There are some minor technical issues -- such as images that suddenly pop up, and long-ish load times. Plus, those who prefer twitchy action might not appreciate the slower-paced scavenger hunt nature of the game, but Subnautica is really, really good. Also, you can choose to play how you like: Creative mode allows you to explore underwater worlds and build bases without having to worry about health upkeep or resource costs; Survival mode is more difficult, as you must manage health, hunger, and hydration; and the aptly named Hardcore mode only gives you one life and no O2 alerts, to truly test your survival skills.
Once you're in the first of a few different vessels, you'll quickly get the hang of navigation and control, so you can focus on the core gameplay element -- survival -- as you follow waypoints to complete various goals, and choose flight or fight based on the threats that await you (some can't be killed, so you'll need to think of alternative approaches). One of the first memorable moments is discovering and investigating the huge spaceship that brought you to this alien world to begin with. The game is a real stunner, with high-resolution graphics, impressive lighting, and amazing special effects (including very realistic-looking water). Couple that with excellent sound effects -- like hearing the moans of predatory creatures swimming near you -- and professional voice acting and music, and you'll get a sense of the production values here. All in all, despite the few technical issues, Subnautica is an extraordinarily fun game worthy of your time and money.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.