In Subterrain, you fill the shoes of Dr. West, the apparent lone survivor of MPO, an underground city on Mars. Do what you must to survive: battle enemies, fight hunger and thirst, mend your wounds, and gather resources in a constant struggle to survive the catastrophe that’s beset Mars! You may end up being your own worst enemy if you’re careless! Every decision you make is critical as the world does not wait for you.
If you’re looking for possibly the ultimate survival challenge then this is quite possibly what you’re going to want to get if you’re an Xbox player. Before going into the game I was offered with multiple difficulty options, each changing multiple aspects of the game such as how fast you become contaminated, how quick the hunger and thirst meters with decrease and reduced ability to save when and wherever I want. I went with Normal difficulty, which wasn’t insanely difficult but when looking at the debuffs that come with difficulties such as Nightmare I very quickly realised how tough this game could be.
Like most survival games now there’s combat and obviously exploration elements. Sadly Subterrain really only delivers on the exploration side of things but not so much with the combat. A plethora of weapons are available for West to craft, find and use on the various creatures that inhabit the MPO. Other equipment can be found such as oxygen tanks, better clothes and such but your main equipment will be what weapons you have to dispatch foes. Despite the massive amount of weapons available, the tactics to get rid of enemies is very much the same; backpedal and swing or shoot until the bad guy dies. While I expected this due to the style of camera and gameplay it was still quite disappointing and underwhelming. However, exploring and the constant focus on keeping fed and not becoming contaminated always kept me on my feet to the point where I wasn’t as bothered about the combat as I probably should’ve been.
Exploration in the game is the key to everything. It allows new parts of the story to be found thanks to it being non-linear, parts to be found so the generator that powers the facility can keep more areas online, supplies for keeping alive, you name it. Exploration is key. When it comes to looks, the environment isn’t the greatest but it definitely captures the feeling of a place that has been contaminated with something turning people into zombies. A lot of the environment looks the same on most places you go and it can get a little bland at times but despite the constant re-use of the same assets to make all the areas it still does its job and honestly I feel like while it could have been better and more varied that it is still good and I won’t put the game down for that since it is indie and there’s plenty to find around the MPO when it comes to the different items.
Speaking of items, Subterrain does have its own crafting system. While a lot of the crafting is about gaining resources, researching things and such. The only problem is that when it comes to researching, it takes time and as the game progresses and resources become more scarce you start to run out of time. Of course, this only becomes an issue if you don’t prioritise what you are researching and think carefully since not managing time and priorities correctly will make you have a very short journey anyway. Overall the crafting system is rather well done, especially when it comes to guns since you can put different parts together and make a gun that fits whatever situation you think you’ll want it for.
The point of everything in the game is to survive, and this is done through many means. Food and drink must be consumed at regular intervals, sleep is needed, toilet breaks, injuries need tending to, contamination must be avoided, if not cured. Amongst other things. Of all the threats in the game it is definitely your stat bars that keep you worried the most. As time ticks on West gets more hungry, tired and contaminated. Time is sped up each time he sleeps also so keeping all these things balanced along with not wasting resources and progressing really gives a sense of urgency to the game. I really loved this since it is something a lot of games don’t have nowadays and it really surprised me to see just how in depth the survival elements actually were since I was just expecting to eat, drink and stay clean. In what I assume was a way of making the game more accessible to people, the difficulty options change around how the ‘survival bars’ as I call them, deplete so while it may seem tedious you can go on lower difficulties and drastically reduce how much you have to worry about West’s health. You can even go as far as to make all your bars deplete faster if you feel like punishing yourself.