Subterrain – Review
Follow Genre: 2D Indie Survival Horror
Developer: Pixellore
Publisher: Pixellore
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Subterrain – Review

Site Score
8.9
Good: great visuals, challenging gameplay, original plot
Bad: minor bugs (but still Early Access game)
User Score
9.7
(6 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (6 votes cast)

There have been a number of survival horror games these last few years. The goals are pretty much the same: killing your enemies, exploring the world and scavenging for weapons. Subterrain adds a new experience to this genre. Besides taking down your enemies, you need to take care of your body. Sleeping, eating, drinking, nursing your wounds, even taking a piss are vital to surviving the harsh conditions of the underground complex of Mars.

Subterrain

Story

The year is 2050. Human have colonized Mars and build their homes underground to protect them from the harsh conditions on the surface. You play as Dr. West, a scientist who has been working on a cure for Alzheimer. After an experiment went wrong, the doctor is put into prison where he awaits his fate as the days pass. One day, however, the lights go out, he hears screams and the doors of the cells open. It doesn’t take long for West to figure out something awful is going on.

You find yourself in a horror scenario where Dr. West is left as the only survivor. It’s up to you to survive and escape the Mars colony. This doesn’t come as easy though. You need to take care of your own body, which means food and drink, sleep, sickness and even going to the toilet are key to surviving the game. And that’s not all. Dr. West isn’t alone. Infected zombie-like creatures are lurking in the shadows and won’t hold back to take you down.

Subterrain1

Graphics

Even though Subterrain is a top-down 2D platform, the developers of Pixellore have done an amazing job. The intro only shows mere images, but they look realistic and the use of a red and black color scheme sets the mood. The game holds your attention and when you see Dr. West’s profile as he sits in the prison cell, you can feel his desperation.

As horror games go, you walk in dark rooms where your flare comes in handy. It doesn’t reveal as much as an actual flashlight (which you find later in the game), but it does the job. The red emergency lights bring up a Doom-feeling that make you want to explore with caution. The furniture is well recognizable and fully functional. Even the slaughtered corpses lying on the ground and the floors stained with blood bring a chill down your spine, while the infected themselves look gruesome enough to keep you on edge, even in 2D.

Subterrain2

Sound

The sound, or the lack of it, is what makes this game so creepy. There is no background music or dialogue going on. This actually makes the gaming experience very realistic. Dr. West is after all the only survivor and has to experience the deadly silence of walking through the dark hallways and rooms. There are some sound effects though. For instance, if you use your scanner to check if there is anything to loot, you hear the scanning sound. As space-themed games go, there is of course the recognizable sound of the sliding doors that open and close. And let’s not forget the distinct zombie moan that comes from the infected.

Gameplay

This 2D survival horror is one of a kind. In most of these games you only need to be aware of your enemies. In Subterrain anything and everything can kill you. This includes both starvation and decontamination. The developers have put stress on the fact that you are a human being with human needs. As mentioned earlier, food/drink, sleep, medicine and going to the bathroom are important priorities. That’s why exploring and scavenging is vital in this game. You need to search for food and drinks that aren’t contaminated. You’ll even find yourself looking desperately for toilets and beds to relieve yourself. These elements make the game feel more realistic.

This realistic gameplay does raise the stakes and the game is challenging. The tutorial is a great help, but you often have to figure things out on your own, which is part of the gaming experience. That’s why crafting and conducting research are so important. To create better weapons and gear, you can actually recycle the junk you find in the number of containers and boxes. Even old underwear might have another use.

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There is much on the screen to take into account. In the left top corner, you find a clock to indicate the time, a journal and backpack shortcuts. On the left bottom you will see your vitals. The round circle actually indicates how contaminated you are. The more red dots appear, the more you need to take care of yourself. Having a drink, getting some sleep or even taking a piss can take care of this problem. In the right corner you will find the items you equip at the moment, from guns to flashlights, to your power pack. Here, the use of fluorescent green color has been a great choice, because it fits the space-theme so well.

You have a wide assortment of weapons to choose from: melee, energy guns, bombs, etc. Even the use of your fists is an option. Don’t make the mistake of running at the zombies while firing like a madman. You have limited stamina and mobility. Not to mention the zombies can break bones and infect you with whatever disease they are carrying. So take caution whenever using a flashlight or sprinting through the hallways. The infected can smell, see and hear you.

Although the developers did a good job, there is still room for improvement though. For example, you can travel by train to several locations. When using this train, you can see a detailed map of the entire underground facility. It might be convenient to implement a map when walking around. Of course, using it from memory might be one of the challenges of the game. Subterrain is still early access, which means the developers make use of the provided feedback to increase the gaming experience.

Conclusion

Even though Subterrain is still early access, the developers have done an amazing job. Unlike many Indie games this one already feels finished. There is always room for improvement, but the game has what it takes to become one of the better Indie survival horror games that are out there. If you’re a horror survival fan, this game needs to have a spot in your collection.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Subterrain - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
StefanieRin


1 Comment

  1. Subterrain (Pixellore) | Buy Some Indie Games
    December 20, 2015, 18:30

    […] Reviews (Early Access): 3rd-Strike […]

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