Shacknews Most Overlooked Game of 2021 - Subnautica: Below Zero

Unknown Worlds Entertainment followed up their stellar debut with an icy survival upgrade that deserves to land on your radar.


If you were tasked with assembling a list of the top ten indie games of the last decade, it would be incredibly difficult to leave Subnautica off of the list. Developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, the game married exploration, survival, and deep sea terror in a way that equaled pure magic. When it came time to produce a follow-up, Unknown Worlds opted to continue pushing the concept of Subnautica even further.

Subnautica: Below Zero will be instantly recognizable to fans of the original as the team opted to evolve its design rather than go back to the drawing board. Virtually all parts of the original experience have returned and have been polished into near-perfection. Surviving underwater is still the name of the game, but Below Zero opts to push the narrative much more than the original game, which allowed players to learn about the game world on their own accord.

In addition to a new focus on narrative, Below Zero mixes up the original formula by bringing some of the action onto land. This land is frozen solid, but at least you can breathe. That said, oxygen is about the only thing on the surface that won’t kill you. Also, make sure to keep an eye out for the terrifying ice worm (and maybe pack an extra pair of clean underwear).

Creative types will also be stoked to hear that base building has been expanded and enhanced over the first game, allowing players to construct the habitat of their dreams. The game spent a good amount of time in early access, so its final launch didn’t make big headlines. Don’t let the opportunity to chill out pass you by.

Watch the Shacknews Awards 2021 YouTube playlist or read our Year of the Games: 2021 article for all of the awards in one place. We will be announcing our Shacknews GOTY 2021 on December 31.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty
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    December 26, 2021 1:00 PM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Shacknews Most Overlooked Game of 2021 - Subnautica: Below Zero

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      December 26, 2021 1:07 PM

      The land parts were complete garbage. Also the sea truck was boring. That’s about all I got to say about that.

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        December 26, 2021 1:14 PM

        The modules for the sea truck were interesting. I felt super powered way too early though. Overall it feels less dangerous then the first one. I only got straight up murdered once when I was out of the exosuit and was eaten by one of those worms around the giant red flowers. In the first game you were kind of ushered toward a leviathan early on when all you had was the motor assist for free diving. By the time you encounter serious leviathans in this on you already have the tiny submarine. But still beautiful with a lot of fun exploring the different areas. Lots of the seatruck parts were useless but fun.

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      December 27, 2021 12:39 AM

      Subnautica might be overlooked but Below zero got the attention it deserved.
      I absolutely loved Subnautica and was counting the days until Below zero's release. But it was a disappointment. Not at all as fun to play as the original.

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      December 27, 2021 1:23 AM

      I played subnautica, loved it. Later, I got into NMS and pretty heavily. I’ve since dropped off cuz it felt a mile wide and an inch deep. I kept comparing it to Subnautica and I think that contributed to my disinterest. I’m excited to one day play Sub Zero, despite the criticisms of the land-based stuff.

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      December 27, 2021 4:12 AM

      Wasn't a fan. I liked the first one though but I didn't finish it.

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      December 27, 2021 4:22 AM

      Below Zero is very good. But, you can only play a Subnautica game for the first time, and if things aren't truly and radically different then that familiarity will ruin some of it.

      Still very good though.

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