Subterrain: Review

Why does nothing ever go right on Mars?

Set in the year 2050, mankind has established MPO, the first colony on Mars. The facilities of the colony have been built deep underground to escape the inhospitable climate of the Martian surface. All seems to be going well on Mars until the game of survival begins.
Subterrain is a top down survival game developed and published by PixelLore, released on the 21st of January 2016 on PC however it is now available on the current generation of consoles. Subterrain sees you take control of the character Albert West, a former doctor once working on a cure for Alzheimer’s, but is now imprisoned for murder after an unfortunate accident in a research lab. During a scheduled prison transfer, alarms are raised; screams can be heard, followed by a blackout. When the emergency systems come online, West realises that no one is coming for him, and soon it becomes clear that he is the only survivor of a mutant outbreak. West must explore and travel through the colony of Mars, in order to survive and escape, and as the game unfolds the story of what occurred is slowly pieced together.
From the very outset Subterrain tries to explain the basics of this survival game through an optional tutorial, explaining the menu systems and various elements that require your attention. Scavenging, crafting and surviving are the three main elements introduced to you, however rather than ease you into what to expect it all comes across as quite complex. As a survival game, Subterrain has a large number of meters to keep a careful eye on. Sleep, thirst and hunger are the obvious ones, but some of the other factors to be mindful of are body weight, oxygen, temperature, bleeding, urination and defecation. Yes, that’s right you need to keep an eye out for the toilet. Survival in this game isn’t always about you as well. The colony on Mars will need some TLC at times if you are to keep on going. An example of this is where your oxygen levels may be getting low and then the facility will need repairs to its oxygen generators. Thermal generators work much in the same way but these control temperature.
The colony however is packed with items that are useful not only for surviving but for crafting as well. Crafting new weapons and improving them are vital to survival as you traverse the levels of the colony. With this in mind every cabinet, locker, desk, and strongbox is worth taking a look at. You’ll find dolls, body lotions, touchscreen tablets, gaming devices, beer, oxygen canisters, medicine, and with space in your bag / inventory bring limited, if you’re a survival hoarder then you’ll have to resist the urge to take everything with you. There are storage containers that you drop items into and return to later in the game if required. However with Subterrain's randomly generated levels, there is no pattern to where items will be found which adds to the question “Should I take an item or drop it?” Whilst this system works well, but rather than finding yourself in a hunt for a specific item that is required, just check everything until the item you need pops up.
The enemies of Subterrain are the mutants which come in all shapes and sizes, and some will take a few hits from melee attacks, while others will require grenades and rifles to take down. The levels are randomly generated, so there is no way of knowing what may be lurking the shadows. For the most part combat is just point and shoot using the twin sticks of the controller to control West, however the majority of scuffles with the mutants is mainly just backing up whilst shooting until the enemy drops.
Players are in a constant battle to survive and that constantly requires you to keep an eye on your inventory as well as all of the meters required to stay alive and healthy. It’s a constant race against the clock on so many fronts, and all of these must be taken into account because if you don’t have enough of certain items or the right equipment to complete a mission, you will come up short.
Subterrain is a decent title that has all the elements that fans of the survival genre will appreciate and love, through the complex menus and systems that require attention in order to survive. However it’s these same complex menus and systems that may confuse and lead those not used to the mechanics of survival games to shy away from enjoying this title. Subterrain goes to great lengths to provide a true survival experience, and no one said survival was easy. 

SCORE: 6.5 out of 10

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
Genre:  Sci-Fi Survival 
Initial Release: 21st January 2016 (Steam) 27th January 2017 (Xbox and PlayStation)
Developer: PixlLore.
Publisher: PixelLore

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