I don’t go super hard when it comes to video games. My gameplay style is like a quickie–the stars align for a brief moment which I must seize but not stretch out too long.

So survival games like Rust–where your character is dropped into an open world with nothing and you must collect resources and craft ever-more complex items to survive–don’t get much play from me. I just can’t invest the time. (And as we’ve stated in the podcast, the players in Rust are ASSHOLES. They will clean out your modest hovel like the friggin’ Grinch and murder you.)

But not so with the gorgeous Subnautica. Let me tell you a little something about this gem.

Subnautica has been out as an early access game since late 2014. The recent and overall reviews on Steam are both Very Positive, and next month is its actual release date, and it’s very popular with the Let’s Play crowd, yadda yadda yadda.

Here’s what I love about it though: It takes place almost entirely underwater, beneath the surface of an alien, planet-wide ocean. Talk about leaving your comfort zone.

And Subnautica can make you uncomfortable–in the best way. You feel the size of the vast ocean, and every meter of water between you and the sweet, sweet sun. The first night that sun goes down is a sobering experience, lemme tell ya, as you bob on the surface of a limitless ocean you know nothing about.

As far as you can tell, you are the only creature of higher intelligence on the whole of the planet, but you’re not alone. This ocean is teaming with a shockingly diverse range of undersea flora and fauna, from tiny Peeper fish to… well, big things. Very big things. Aside from the gorgeous and varied landscapes of Subnautica, the sea life is my favorite thing about it. The strange creatures look like the inventions of Mother Nature, albeit a side to her we’ve never seen before.

The world of Subnautica is so fucking good, y’all. They have put so much work and effort into it, and a lot of love. Different depths and different parts of the world have unique ecosystems that are at once alien and completely natural. As you explore your new home, you swear you can trace the ancient seismic and geological history that led to the structures and landscapes around you. It’s that good. There are underwater caverns that go on FOREVER. There are lava zones and floating islands. Floating islands! Get down deep enough to escape the sun’s rays and everything glows, plant and animal alike, just like home. And when you get down in the dark and deep, it’s scary as hell.

Subnautica has a great sci-fi feel, too. All of the technology you brought with you is very futuristic and clean and pretty effin’ sweet, and it all works together in a way I haven’t seen in a game before.

You get a little sub. You get a bigger sub that you can park your little sub in. You get a deep-sea diving mech suit that makes you feel so bad-ass and you can also park it inside your big sub! The big sub has silent running modes and an engine you can see and cool lights on it. Computerized voices greet you when you enter one of your vessels or bases.

The base building aspect of Subnautica is just so damn cool because YOU’RE BUILDING UNDERWATER BASES AT THE BOTTOM OF A GOTDARN ALIEN OCEAN. It looks like shit you hope the future will have! It’s all modular rooms and connecting tunnels with open views of the limitless sea beyond. You can build a moon pool in which to dock your little sub or prawn suit. There are 3D printers that can print anything you’ve scanned–provided you have the necessary raw materials. Which brings me to my next point.

If you’re like me and can’t pony up the time to grind and mine your way to the cool shit, Subnautica has kindly provided a mode of playing where you get all of the everything and can’t drown. You can base-build and explore to your watery heart’s content without the grind, and I thank them to the depths for that.

And I haven’t even mentioned the secret mystery of the planet itself, the ruins and left over machinery from a bygone age, and why you can’t leave…

Subnautica is just fantastic. It’s huge, well done, unique and just so, so cool. It feels like a real place, scary sea monsters and all. You’re definitely off the edge of the map, and I think you’ll love every second of it.

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I’m the more casual gamer of the group, by nature and poverty of both time and money. Mid-30’s, Pacific Northwest, she/her pronouns. I beat Huniepop.