Subaeria is developed by Illogika Studios, which is a top down action game with puzzle elements throughout. It will see you and your drone explore and make your way through randomly generated areas in an underwater city.
The game is in early access on Steam and will eventually have four characters to play as, but only one at the moment. Each of the characters will have their own unique style and story. You play as a character known as Styx and the world very familiar to Rapture in the Bioshock games. Styx is a girl who has become an outcast in the world she once called her home. The world is full of robots and is now ruled by technology. You must make your way through the world with a drone companion to help fight back against the robots.
I will start by saying that using a mouse and keyboard isn’t advised and I would highly recommend using a gamepad to play. The game has some interesting gameplay mechanics and actually requires you to make the machinery and robots fight each other, rather than engaging in combat yourself. You have a faithful drone as a companion who becomes extremely useful for solving puzzles and helping you progress through the game. You will come across many enemy robots known as Cleaners throughout the duration of the game. Cleaners come in different colours that represent their manufacturers. You can hit the robots to make them explode but its more about navigating your way through the zones in thoughtful and clever ways.
I wasn’t sure how much I enjoyed the gameplay at first but after I gave it some time I began to understand it and found it rewarding once I managed to get through certain areas. There is a large focus on timing, whether its avoiding lasers, jumping or dodging powerful turrets. As the game progresses you will find that the areas will have more obstacles and scenarios that will challenge your timing and movement skills. The game feels manage to stay interesting as you’re never quite sure what the next area is going to have in store.
The drone companion is one of the most interesting and unique aspects of the game. It allows you to manipulate and interact with the machinery and robots in different ways. You can only have two active app slots available at once and means that if you come across another you have to make a choice of which to keep. You need to experiment a bit in order to find out your preferred selection. Then there are “Sniffs” that are power-ups that Styx uses during the game. These apps and abilities seem like a nice idea but I actually found that I wouldn’t end up using them too often. It could have been interesting to come across more scenarios that require you to carefully adopt and utilise certain abilities in order to progress further.
Throughout the world you will talk to various characters and pick up logs that help to add more depth and background to the world. The world feels well thought out and immersive, which I really enjoyed and at times reminded me of Bioshock due to the dystopian feel. The game starts out easy enough, nut things get challenging pretty quickly with increasingly difficult obstacles. There was one scenario that literally saw me die over and over, which after a while became hugely frustrating and to the point of being simply unenjoyable. The game does have a few minor problems like the mouse and keyboard setup being pretty unusable, some long loads times and the game crashed on me twice, but overall for the most part there isn’t anything too major to complain about in terms of performance.
The presentation is good and the world design is one of the most interesting aspects of the game. It feels immersive and interesting to explore and it’s a shame that the story doesn’t feel fully fleshed out. I’m sure that this is something that can be added to as it develops. I enjoyed the vibrant and colourful design and I also liked the sound design which suited the overall tone and atmosphere.
Overall I enjoyed my time with Subaeria despite a few minor niggles, like load times and the odd crash. My favourite part of the game was the interesting world design, but would have liked a bit more of a narrative. I would have also liked to have had more of a reason to use the drone or power-ups during the game and felt like there was a missed opportunity there. I’m interested to see how the game develops and improves over time.
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