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10 games like Subnautica that'll plunge you into mysterious worlds

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Looking for more games like Subnautica? Ah, then you're in the market for a dangerous world to explore, deep survival systems, and perhaps a few weird monsters to avoid at all costs. Don't worry, we've got just what you're looking for in this list of the best games like Subnautica. 

We've tried to focus on games that do a fantastic job of blending story, exploration, resource management, and the occasional scares – each important components of the true Subnautica experience. While there are few games that can match developer Unknown Worlds' gorgeous underwater landscapes, there are plenty out there that offer a similar sense of progression and mystery. So keep on scrolling to find 10 games like Subnautica you can play right now. 


The Long Dark

The Long Dark

(Image credit: Hinterland Studio)

Developer: Hinterland Studio
Platform(s):
PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch,

It may not have the storytelling prowess of Subnautica, but The Long Dark, which asks you to survive in the deadly Canadian wilderness, is every bit as atmospheric. That’s thanks in no small part to its hand-painted art style and gorgeous weather, which can turn in an instant and leave you freezing to death without enough wood to make a fire, as wolves howl ominously in the distance. It can be brutal, and you’ll find yourself in plenty of hairy spots where food and daylight are in short supply, but moments of panic are spread between stretches of pensive silence. It’s just you, the snow, and your footsteps. And those wolves, of course.

Abzu

Diver swims amongst the seaweed in Abzu

(Image credit: 505 Games)

Developer: Giant Squid Studios
Platform(s):
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

If it’s stunning ocean vistas you want, then dive into Abzu, an underwater exploration game with a soundtrack from Austin Wintory, of PlayStation classic Journey fame. As the music flows over and around you, you’ll discover new, glorious views, from huge schools of colourful fish to mysterious underwater temples etched with ancient carvings. It’s almost completely free of threat, and there’s none of the challenge or fear you’ll find in Subnautica – but there’s still plenty to love, and both the sights and sounds of its watery world never fail to surprise.

No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Developer: Hello Games
Available on
: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

Less structured and more expansive than Subnautica, No Man’s Sky gives you a whole galaxy to explore without restraint. You zoom from planet to planet, busting through atmospheres and watching land slowly rise to meet you, moving fluidly between outer space and solid ground, space station and rocky outpost. It has a story, and objectives will nudge you in a particular direction, but you’ll get the most out of it when you’re guided by your own whims. Some planets offer few resources or signs of life – others feel like you could live on them for decades. After an unstable launch, Hello Games has revamped the entire game over a period of years, making it so much more than it initially was. Heck, it even has underwater base building too now - along with multiplayer, VR support, more narrative than ever, and much, much more. 

Subnautica: Below Zero

Subnautica: Below Zero

(Image credit: Unknown Worlds Entertainment)

Developer: Unknown Worlds
Platform(s):
PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

The logical next step from Subnautica is... more Subnautica, and that’s exactly what Below Zero offers. After a stint in early access, Subnautica: Below Zero is a standalone expansion that will give you hours of underwater fun. The water in Below Zero, as the name suggests, is far chillier: set in the arctic region of an alien planet, it’s your job to survive after a disaster on board a research station orbiting overhead. Expect the same gameplay loops you know and love in Subnautica, but with new biomes, creatures and tools, and regular updates keep improving it.

Starbound

Starbound

(Image credit: Chucklefish)

Developer: Chucklefish
Platform(s)
: PC, Xbox One

Starbound looks nothing like Subnautica, but the depths of its crafting systems, and the huge variety of planets to explore, make it a must-play for fans of survival sandboxes. It’s essentially a sci-fi Terraria with a bigger emphasis on story: as you hop between planets you’ll gather resources to gradually upgrade your gear, progressing from swords to machine guns, walking boots to jetpacks and teleportation devices. Its planets each offer distinct biomes, procedurally-generated for maximum variation: one minute you’ll be creeping through a thick forest, the next flying over a pool of magma. A streamlined story, complete with scripted bosses, genuinely interesting characters and tons of lore, keep you pushing on to the next world.

Firewatch

Firewatch

(Image credit: Campo Santo)

Developer: Campo Santo
Platform(s):
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Firewatch, in almost complete contrast to Subnautica, is an on-rails story game that almost never puts you in real danger: and yet it’s one Subnautica fans should check out. Wonderful environmental storytelling mean that although exploration is minimal, you’ll want to open every drawer and read every note you find. What it shares in common with Subnautica is both a gorgeous world and a heavy sense of atmosphere: when you’re playing Firewatch you’re almost totally lost in the world. It feels like the end point of the “waling sim” genre: polished, beautiful, and lives long in the memory. 

Astroneer

Spacefolk walk across a pink planet in Astroneer

(Image credit: System Era Softworks)

Developer: System Era Softworks
Platform(s):
PC, PS4, Switch Xbox One

A bit like No Man’s Sky-lite, Astroneer is a cutesy exploration game with a surprising amount of depth, especially when it comes to base building. As you move between its seven planets you’ll gather resources from the environment and explore high and low, scaling mountains and digging into caves for new materials. Then, when your inventory is full, you’ll come back and craft those materials into useful tools, looping together science labs, generators, solar panels and oxygen tanks in whichever configuration you want. The result is a relaxing space adventure with a gradual sense of progression, and it’s especially fun if you can rope in a friend for the ride.

Raft

An advanced raft floating past a small island in the game Raft

(Image credit: Axolot Games)

Developer: Redbeet Interactive
Platform(s):
PC

An open-water survival game in which you (plus a friend, ideally) hook floating resources to your raft as they bob by, build ramps to board islands you spot on the horizon and, occasionally, venture into the depths to grab valuable goodies. A patrolling shark keeps you honest and, like Subnautica, progression means crafting better gear, and bigger oxygen tanks. All the while, you expand your raft from a simple four-by-four grid to a complex, multi-leveled floating base. It’s nowhere near as polished as Subnautica – it’s still in Early Access, so expect some bugs – but it’s one of the few ocean-based survival games that’s worth playing.

The Forest

The Forest

(Image credit: Endnight Games)

Developer: Endnight Games
Platform(s):
PC, PS4

Subnautica’s sea monsters make it feel like a horror game: The Forest gives you that same sense of dread, only it swaps the ocean willies for a pack of hungry cannibal mutants who want to munch on your flesh. As the lone survivor of a plane crash, you must stay alive in an oppressive forest, chopping down trees to make wood and scavenging whatever food you can, crafting increasingly sophisticated gear as you go. The presence of the mutants provides a constant tension, and you’ll always be looking over your shoulder. Flexible building tools let you build your base exactly as you want, and a trail of clues provides a framework for exploring its dense world.

Breathedge

Floating through space with a crowbar in Breathedge

(Image credit: RedRuins Softworks)

Developer: RedRuins Softworks
Platfrom(s):
PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

In space, no-one can hear you scream, but they can hear a chicken pop. That's the sort of bizarre humor that you can expect in Breathedge. This survival game sees you play as a character simply known as "The Man", who's just trying to get his grandpa's body to an outer space funeral, but things go spectacularly wrong. Your ship is gone, you're all alone in a space full of corpses. Until the phone beeps. Figure out what's going on this brilliantly bizarre story, build bases and contraptions to traverse space, and just try to stay alive long enough to find out what's going on. You won't regret it. 


Sam's gaming PC is literally held together with masking tape, and he bought his PS4 from a friend of a friend of a (dodgy) friend for a tenner. He wishes that games still had paper manuals, mainly so he could get the satisfaction of ignoring them. He grew up in Essex, and now lives in London.
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