Subnautica isn’t bad, it’s just a bad game

I left subnautica quite disappointed. I realized that the game can be completed pretty fast and vast majority of its content is cosmetic. You don’t need the complicated base building system. You don’t need to visit most of the landscape or interact with its items or creatures. You need to be really careless to die. The story is fixed, every replay is the same, there is no reason to play again.

Then for some reason I was recommended the sequel. It’s early-early access, so I won’t play it. But it was interesting enough for me to reinstall the old game. And it was fresh, interesting and fun. Also, long bases are still fun to build:

How? Because I forgot where the things are and had to re-explore. I was inefficient again, so I had to think how to solve problems with my limited knowledge. I made mistakes I had to fix.

Exploration is fun. Problem solving, optimizing is fun. Subnautica is fun. I like it, just as I’ve liked it back then. Too bad that once you’ve completed it, you can’t replay with any of the fun of the first play. There is no endgame to challenge yourself, besides building “beautiful” structures. People on Subnautica reddit show their “artwork” and funny or beautiful screenshots, not gameplay.

Subnautica isn’t bad, but it’s not a game. It’s an unstructured toy. It’s like building a sand castle, just because you like building stand castles. You can’t really win, you can’t compete, you can’t challenge yourself. Yet people build sandcastles and “play” Subnautica.



Author: Gevlon

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8 thoughts on “Subnautica isn’t bad, it’s just a bad game”

  1. You are not really arguing submautica here, but more the definition of a game.
    “Is repeatable endgame challenge and competition required to have a game?”
    Are puzzle games games? After the first completion, it’ll be hard to recapture the lack of knowledge of the original playthrough.

    (I mean, I think both subnautica and puzzle games are games, as the repeatable endgame challenge doesn’t come into it for me.)


  2. game
    an activity that one engages in for amusement or fun.
    “the kids were playing a game with their balloons”
    synonyms: pastime, diversion, entertainment, amusement, distraction, divertissement, recreation, sport, activity, leisure activity;

    Pretty sure subnautica is an activity people engage in for amusement.


  3. @Gevlon: Equals then is not transitive
    If Mary is the daughter of Jane, and Jane is the daughter of Alice, that does not mean Mary is the daughter of Alice
    Sex being done for fun and games being done for fun does not mean sex has to be a game, it just doesn’t work like that.


  4. @Stefan: exactly. Subnautica being done for fun and games being done for fun does not mean Subnautica has to be a game, it just doesn’t work like that.


  5. Does Subnautica become a game when people start speedrunning it?

    As that would make it meet all your criteria.


  6. @Anon: yes. If there would be a meaningful speedrunning scene, then yes, it would be a game to compete in.

    Games are defined by being a “using a toy to complete in a competition”. Tennis is a game, you play with rackets and ball to defeat the other tennis player. Just throwing the ball around is not a game, that’s just fooling around.


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