Subnautica: Below Zero | Nintendo Switch version review

Subnautica: Below Zero | Nintendo Switch version review


Subnautica: Below Zero was supposed to be an expansion of the lucky (and deservedly successful) Subnautica. As the name suggests, the title focuses on marine exploration of the Arctic biomes, developing in ways already known to users of the game created by Unknow Worlds Entertainment.

The product, today, is no longer a mere expansion as much as a real stand-alone, which traces the adventures of Robin Ayou, a scientist who came to 4546B to find her sister Sam. Behind the disappearance of the consanguineous, dark and sordid plots seem to creep in, all pointing towards the not exactly crystalline Alterra corporation. The story, which is largely based on the exploration of the planet, acts both as a direct narrative and as an indirect stimulus to the actual gameplay. It is a well-crafted story, albeit without major lyricism and with a certain lack of panache and sparkle. In short, if there weren't an outline as colorful and imaginative as the seas of 4546B, I doubt that Below Zero would be able to keep users glued to the screen.

More DLC than Stand-alone

As far as the game is concerned, as I have already suggested, this new chapter of the series is halfway between the additional content and the standalone product. Basically Below Zero is a great revival of the dynamics already seen in Subnautica, with some small improvements here and there (and the physiological novelties of the Arctic biome). In the same way, anyone who has already approached the previous video game cannot fail to notice a very strong feeling of more of the same, even within an improved graphic layout and numerous species to be cataloged.

The luck of the videogame is essentially based on the fun survival approach, even if not too rigorous, strongly voted towards scientific exploration and discovery. As per tradition, 90% of the activities will take place underwater, thanks also to the support base of our capsule, involving increasingly expensive tools in terms of crafting and resources. The progression, however, avoids the exponential curve of stocks such as Factorio or Satisfactory, placing obvious limits on the collection of resources. Eating and drinking will be necessary activities but rather easy to satisfy; find slightly less oxygen (especially for longer and more complex exploration phases). Added to this are never exaggerated recipes and a full-bodied crafting list but certainly not as exasperating as some competing titles. In short, the game of Subnautica: Below Zero is clearly based on the countless indigenous species of the planet's Arctic pole, whether they are minerals, plants or animals.

To accompany us on this journey of exploration and discovery, a graphic sector and sound of all respect, which lives up to the good name of the development team and which cloaks the creations born from the imagination of the developers in a lively but equally plausible way. Going underwater, analyzing the pulsating life of the frozen but not at all hostile waters of 4546B is a pleasure for the eyes, thanks to glimpses of undeniable beauty and painstaking care of the seabed. The movement of water and waves is also valuable, despite the lack of a truly varied weather system, such as to make the ocean that hosts our adventure perfect.

Switch version and repetition

The problems of Subnautica: Below Zero are certainly not technical, but rather linked to the attempt to lengthen the stock with a good but not very inspired work. Perhaps the best choice would have been to continue along the path of the DLC, avoiding a stand-alone that takes a few steps only thanks to an interesting story (but, I repeat, not at all "new") and an effort of imagination outside the common as regards the biodiversity represented in the product.

The genre also does not help: Subnautica's survival does not benefit from megagalactic structures or revolutionary gameplay approaches, on the contrary based on peaceful exploration and crafting what is strictly necessary to unravel the plot and fill one's diary with scientific discoveries. A style that I really appreciate in its being so calm and relaxing, but at the same time it is too stale if not reinterpreted properly. On the sidelines, a consideration on the version that I got to try, that is the one for Nintendo Switch. Nothing to say for the TV mode, which stands out more than enough the kaleidoscopic ocean of Below Zero. Less impactful, but still usable, the portable mode, which certainly suffers from such an open and exploratory game, moreover in the first person.

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