Around Ars we have always known Subnautics was special. The game world is littered with various spins on a survival game – from Minecraft until don’t starve et al. — but reviewer Steven Strom put his finger on the main difference when he reviewed the game in February 2018:
Unlike the other survival games I’ve tried, [Subnautica] has a beginning, middle and end. The time of the player stranded on planet 4546B has a purpose. By cutting the means, survival doesn’t just feel like gratification in itself—for my own self-aggrandizement.
Last year, when we got a chance to get director Charlie Cleveland into a room to walk us through the backstory of this modern classic (er, War Story), we naturally dived into the deep-sea helmet first. Cleveland guided us through his first inspiration (a game that was not built around weapons and combat), which is what made the game’s mysteries so effective (being engaged is more important than being engaged) in battle), and how he decided to place this alien world below rather than above ground.
But really, for games with the depth of Subnautics, 20 minutes is not nearly enough. So we’ve finally made our entire 90-plus minute conversation with Cleveland available for your enjoyment. if you love Subnautics or even just curious about it, this cut has much, much more detail than our original war story. Make sure to stick around until the last third of the interview, especially if you’re interested in some early versions of the game.
List image by Sean Dacanay / Jeremy Smolik