Subnautica was enthusiastically received at the official launch on PC, last January, came to the end of a long period in early access on Steam. Among other things, in fact, the developers were recognized for having made the best use of the possibilities granted to them by Early Access, adding feature and content to the experience without ever losing the pulse of the situation, and indeed remaining consistent with what was the initial vision of the project. We are talking about a survival game that in some respects strictly follows the trends of the genre, for others it introduces elements of welcome break, opting for a traditional and non-procedural design of the levels in order to assimilate the scenario to a relevant part of the narrative sector, able to surprise and excite as you go further from the starting point, discovering new and unexpected settings.
Gameplay and structure
The first impact with the version PlayStation 4 of Subnautica is unfortunately not the best, given the long duration of the initial loading and an interface that does not seem to have enjoyed particular refinements over the last few months, revealing almost amateurish veins in some situations. Beyond this, however, the game has been transported to the Sony console in its entirety, with a dignified adaptation of a control system evidently designed for the use of mouse and keyboard, and inevitably slower and more cumbersome when there you can manage its functions via the analog sticks and buttons of the DualShock 4 controller.
The introductory sequence shows a spaceship adrift, about to crash to the surface of a planet that appears completely covered with water, and the protagonist of the adventure just has time to enter an escape pod before falling victim to the terrible impact. Upon regaining consciousness, the man finds himself floating in his damaged pod, but still equipped with a working construction device, a medical kit generator, a hold, a radio that is missing some components and hatches that are possible. open to immerse yourself and go in search of the resources necessary to satisfy your primary needs (hunger, thirst, oxygen), as well as build useful tools to make the exploratory phase more practical and fruitful.
We imagine those who chew on survival games have already understood the circularity of a gameplay of this type, which however does not get lost in chatter and avoids the player from exhausting extraction sessions on the seabed, making the collection of materials, scrap and edible fish (from which to obtain both food and drinking water) very simple and intuitive. Everything we collect is analyzed and cataloged, which means that often and willingly we will find ourselves plumbing the scenario keeping an eye on the palmtop on which the components we need to build a particular device are indicated. The flow of action will soon absorb us, seasoning our comings and goings from the pod with a certain degree of addiction, especially when the obligation to return to the surface to restore oxygen supplies becomes less pressing.
As happens in many other products of the genre, in Subnautica there is no tutorial nor the game leads us by the hand in any way, so it will be up to us to guess what to do and how to do it, set priorities and roll up our sleeves, with a view to an experience that will, however, reward our efforts with great satisfaction, taking us within twenty hours to pass from a condition of absolute precariousness to the management of workstations, vehicles, weaponry and advanced equipment. It is this sense of progression that is so solid and convincing, coupled with a "layered" conception of map, representing the best and most significant aspect of the game, and the PC-to-PS4 conversion process hasn't dented that foundation. Moreover, those who wish can set the game by completely eliminating the survival component or by emphasizing it, so as to increase the challenge.
PlayStation 4 Trophies
The eighteen Subnautica Trophies can be obtained by performing certain actions for the first time: the first dive, the repair of a device, the finding of a place or the creation of certain tools. Obviously there is no shortage of achievements related to free exploration and others that are unlocked only once the adventure is over.
In addition to the long initial load and some solutions that would need attention to the source, it is the not exactly irresistible performance that characterizes the Subnautica experience on PlayStation 4. The game runs on PS4 Pro at 1440p, but we would have frankly preferred a resolution lower compared to a frame rate of 60 frames per second, given that the transition to 30 fps makes the exploratory phases of the game, that is its most intense and particular part, decidedly less engaging and evocative. There is a bit of stutter here and there, but above all you experience strong dips in certain situations, for example when you come out of the water to get back to breathing: an annoying phenomenon, which we hope will be fixed through an update.
Added to this is a generally modest drawing distance, which compensates with pop-up effects our desire to proceed more quickly, especially when we enter areas densely populated in terms of flora and fauna. The design of the creatures is valid, even there net of some less inspired solutions, and the atmosphere of this fascinating world has remained intact, but it would have been nice to have been able to count on a more incisive conversion work. Strange that an experienced team like Panic Button, who on Nintendo Switch has almost worked miracles with DOOM and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, has not been able to assert itself in this case. Nothing to say as regards the sound instead, able in its essentiality to create a convincing audio environment, of atmosphere.
CommentTested version PlayStation 4 Digital Delivery PlayStation Store Price 29,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
Subnautica is also confirmed on PlayStation 4 as an inspired and convincing survival game, with a great atmosphere and even unexpected narrative implications, but above all capable of smoothing the edges that are usually found in productions of this genre. The collection phase is in fact simplified and speeded up, after the first steps you are supported by an excellent sense of progression and the formula gradually reveals its cards, always keeping the point. Unfortunately, the controls and the technical sector in general pay duty, with a few too many shots and renounced performance, which never as in this case would have benefited from a higher frame rate rather than an emphasis on resolution. However, if you appreciate this type of experience, the title of Unknown Worlds Entertainment remains a point of reference.
- Great progression system
- Interesting exploratory phases
- Quality atmosphere and storytelling
- Disappointing performance on PS4
- Controls a bit cumbersome
- Interface that can be improved at times