I love the game Subnautica. So much so that I want to share the reasons I love it with you.
First of all, without spoiling anything: Subnautica is a survival game set on an ocean planet. Your spaceship crash lands for mysterious reasons and it’s up to you to unravel the mystery of why you crashed, what happened to everyone else, and what’s next.
Rewarded for overcoming your fears
I love that in Subnautica you are rewarded for exploration. The only way to unravel the mystery is to explore farther out and deeper down into the ocean. As you explore, you encounter terrifying environments and creatures that hold strange and unknown dangers. You don’t know what will try to harm you or not until you encounter it, and so each new environment contains plenty of unknown unknowns that draw out your fear and adrenalin.
However, the rewards are very sweet. Every time you overcome your terror and plunge into the deeps, you encounter new creatures, new resources to craft new tools and structures, and a trail of answers that draw you closer to unraveling the deep mystery surrounding your crash and what you encounter. I’ve never played a game where there was such tangible rewards for overcoming my emotional fears.
Deep and mysterious story
I’m amazed at the way the story narrative draws me in – it’s an organic process where you intuitively know what you need to build next or find next in order to dive deeper into the ocean depths. There are no time limits on what you do, either. You can spend forever building your base or crafting supplies between discoveries.
Therapy and meditation in a video game
That’s the other thing I love: Subnautica feels like a retreat from the world. It’s just you on this beautiful ocean planet. Just you, your will to survive, and beautiful creatures and scenery everywhere. As an introvert I find it almost therapeutic to play this game. I can do everything on my own time and I can slow down to enjoy what I’m doing. I can enjoy just riding along in my underwater vehicle or swimming between rock formations with adorable little fish. It may sound wonky, but I honestly think I’m in a meditative state when I’m doing certain things in this game.
Subnautica does two things for me: it teaches me to overcome my emotions (like fear) by rewarding me for doing so, and it puts me in a meditative state by promoting focus in a beautiful and relaxing environment.
Subnautica builds mental resilience
That’s the thing with Subnautica – once I’ve explored an area, I start to understand what is safe and what is dangerous in that area. I know how to deal with the dangers when they come up, and I know what to expect from that area. Each environment I’ve found seems to be consistent within itself. I think it’s that consistency that allows me to feel safe and ready to explore the next danger lying in the unexplored ocean depths.
There’s probably a life lesson in there somewhere…