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Have you played… Subnautica?

Subsurface tension

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

The first time I came across a Reaper Leviathan in Subnautica is a moment in my gaming life that I’ll hold onto forever. One moment I was alone amidst endless ocean, a trespassing sack of meat and flippers wondering where the hell I was. Then, a deep, forbidding thrum. I whirl about, checking my surroundings for predators. Nothing in sight. Eventually my gaze settles on a calm patch of dark blue sea – and from the centre of my screen, out of the blackness, a gigantic and horrifyingly silent monstrosity hurtles towards me.

After that encounter I had to get up and walk away from my desk. I laughed to myself, because I couldn’t quite believe the visceral reaction my body had to that emerging cluster of pixels on my screen. I felt like I’d been hit in the stomach. It was possibly the most intense jump-scare I’d ever experienced in a game. Later, I watched a YouTuber playing Subnautica. When they came across the Reaper Leviathan for the first time, their reaction was almost exactly the same as mine. The schadenfreude was real, friends. And it was delicious.

I came to Subnautica pretty late, long after everyone had started to tell me it was one of the very best survival games out there. I’d owned it for ages, and even played it once or twice, but it didn’t stick for whatever reason. A few weeks ago, I started it up again, and I’ve no idea what was different this time, but everything just instantly fell into place. I busied myself discovering one of the most fascinating spaces I’d encountered in video games. Within half an hour I was already lamenting that I’d never be able to experience Subnautica for the first time again.

I’ll leave it up to Brendy’s review to give you a fuller idea of what awaits you in this exquisitely crafted, masterfully paced tale of survival in a dark and dangerous world. I just wanted my voice to join the eternal nagging choir that once compelled me to finally give Subnautica a proper go. It’s the finest survival game I’ve ever played, and whether you’re a thalassophile or a thalassophobe (or, like me, somewhere in between), there’s a decent chance you’ll be utterly entranced.

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