Subaeria is an intriguing game, where your main goal is to get your enemies to destroy each other. It’s a fascinating concept, one that Subaera almost successfully executes. Unfortunately, a number of issues prevent it from reaching its full potential. Some pretty big issues. Some technical, some simply in the gameplay experience.
Subaeria is set in the underwater domain of, well, Subaeria. After climate change causes the world to migrate under the sea, a tyranny quickly establishes. Anyone convicted of any crime in this new society is automatically sentenced to “cleansing”. Not only that, but their entire family will be cleansed as well. It’s a situation our protagonist Styx finds herself in. Faced by relentless cleaners, Styx (and you) will have to use your wits and technology to evade death and overtake those at the top.
There’s a number of ways you can kill your enemies, depending on what apps (accessible technology) you have on you. They all have different effects, and therefore employ different strategies to outsmart your opponents. One creates a decoy of yourself, while another lets you directly take control of one. And there’s more than one way for a cleaner to go down, as well, depending on what types you’re facing.
The game has rougelike elements, meaning that not only do you encounter a different layout each round, but also what apps you can acquire as well. This amount of a variety is one of the game’s biggest strengths. The most satisfying kills are the ones where you have no direct involvement. Strategically place yourself behind a barrier the cleaner can’t go through, and make sure it sees you.
Using the apps require use of your drone, which both follows you and can be controlled independently using the right stick. Controlling the drone is not the easiest. The drone moves just a little to floaty, and the controls are never quite precise. That makes it a bit of an issue when trying to get the cleaners in range to use an app. Unfortunately, that’s one of a few technical issues plaguing Subaeria.
For starters, when I first launched the game, it took me about five minutes to get from the launch page to the main menu. And then another set of minutes for the game to actually load. Not the best way to start out a game, for sure.
Then there are the framerate slowdowns, which, to be fair, didn’t show up all of the time. But when they did show up it helped contributed to my downfall. Not the best look to be sure. There are glitches littered throughout Subaeria. Some in the menus, some in the game itself. For a game that encourages (and requires) multiple playthroughs, it’s really not okay to have it be so broken.
Besides the traditional roguelike elements that encourage replayability, there are other unlockables in Subaeria as well. There are different endings and extra characters, but if you’re really dedicated to finding them, expect a struggle. Not in the good way, either.
Subaeria also falls into the trap many roguelikes do in repeating itself quite a bit and becoming stale. Death is permanent, and you do need to start over from the top. While that may seem like a given, the nature of Subaeria may make some think you will be able to restart where you were offed. The environments got repetitive fast. Sure, the apps you will stumble upon change, but that can only contribute so much.
Subaeria has a lot of interesting ideas going for it. It’s a shame, then, that above all, technical issues prevent it from truly shining. As far as puzzle games go, it has a fairly unique premise, which may pique some interests. Hopefully this game can be patched and fixed to remove these glitches and issues. If so, then Subaeria may be able to rise above its current designation as a puzzle game that’s just fine. Maybe even worse than fine, in fact. Which is a shame, considering everything else it has going for it.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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