Indie studio Unknown Worlds Entertainment crafted a unique experience. Subnautica, alongside its expansion “Below Zero,” is a survival/craft underwater adventure game.
While survival games are plentiful, games like Subnautica should be the best in the genre. Aside from the open-world crafting, these titles should feature extra game modes, sandbox mechanics, a storyline to follow, and day/weather cycles.
- Developer:Iron Gate AB
- Publisher:Coffee Stain Publishing
- Release Date:February 2021 (Early Access)
- Platform:Linux, Microsoft Windows
On Valheim, you play on procedurally generated Viking scenarios. You’re on the otherworld of Norse mythology, the Valhalla, and you play as a Guardian for Odin. By the way, the Valhalla can hold up to 10 people online.
Looking to prove yourself, you combat all kinds of mythological creatures. Aside from the storyline, though, Valheim delivers open-world survival-adventure craft going alongside a skill-based combat system.
You can dodge, attack with light and heavy moves, attack with ranged weapons, parry, and block. Elsewhere, the crafting/building system is vast and very Viking. You can make weapons, shields, armor, shacks, longboats, and castles.
No Man’s Sky
- Developer:Hello Game
- Publisher:Hello Games
- Release Date:August 2016
- Platform:Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS5
No Man’s Sky is a sci-fi sandbox open-world adventure. It has a galaxy you can explore with thousands of procedurally generated planets to see. These galaxies hold up to 32 people online.
So, the gameplay is massive. You get on your ship, take off from the planet, fly through space, and dock on another planet. There, you can gather resources you can then craft -if you’ve got the proper tools.
As for the crafting system, you can make almost anything a space traveler needs: weapons, armor, tools, bases, ships, mechs, and more. Combat is very light and rare, so you can focus on exploring and crafting your own story.
- Developer:Mojang Studios
- Publisher:Mojang Studios
- Release Date:November 2011
- Platform:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, iPadOS, Fire OS, tvOS, Apple TV, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
Minecraft is the ever-growing block builder. It features a procedurally generated open world with an endless list of places to explore, things to craft, and stuff to do.
The crafting system is the game’s focus. It includes potions, supplies, farms, weapons, armor, and all kinds of tools and materials to build. Finding the precise recipes -without guides- requires intuition, luck, trails, and exploration.
Lastly, you can play in survival mode, where your HP is limited and monsters attack at night. You can improve your HP with special consumables. Otherwise, play in Creative Mode for complete freedom – Subnautica has a Creative Mode as well.
- Developer:Giant Squid Studios
- Publisher:505 Games
- Release Date:August 2016
- Platform:Windows, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
If you’re looking for more stunning ocean views, Abzu is your best option. This is an exploration game with an underwater setting. Moreover, it has a gorgeous OST by PlayStation’s Journey’s composer Austin Wintory.
You dive deep into a sea world full of mystery, life, color, and secrets. The game offers acrobatic controls to perform fluid swimming and acrobatics.
This is instead of combat, crafting, and scavenging, and these are not mechanics available in the game.
The Long Dark
- Developer:Hinterland Studio
- Publisher:Hinterland Studio
- Release Date:August 2017
- Platform:Windows, Linux, macOS, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
The Long Dark is a single-player first-person exploration and survival experience. It has a stronger focus on storytelling and a somehow linear progression. Also, like Subnautica, it includes hunger, fatigue, cold, and thirst as necessities you need to manage.
The game delivers an episodic experience that challenges you to explore, think and use what you can as tools to survive cold mountains. That means climbing, walking, hunting, cooking, fishing, fighting, and more. There’re over 100 tools you can craft, like lamps and knives.
The story mode (WINTERMUTE) has five episodes, which are about 30 hours of single-player campaign. The story follows a team of scientists stranded in the wilderness. However, there’s a Survival Mode, a free-roam sandbox.
ARK: Survival Evolved
- Developer:Studio Wildcard, Instinct Games
- Publisher:Studio Wildcard
- Release Date:June 2015
- Platform:Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS
Ark: Survival Evolved is a survival crafting adventure. You can play solo, co-op, or on servers with up to 100 people. What’s more, different servers may have different rules to alter the game’s mechanics and challenges.
You play on “Arks,” island maps with customizable avatars. You level up by certain actions like hunting and crafting, and leveling up rewards skill points and crafting recipes.
Typical dangers include hunger, thirst, disease, and other players. As you rise in tech, the game turns into a first-person shooter with make-shift weapons you can use to raid other players, even if they are offline.
- Developer:Endnight Games
- Publisher:Endnight Games
- Release Date:November 2018
- Platform:Windows, PS4
The Forest is another open-world survival adventure game with hefty crafting mechanics. Unlike the others, though, it also has horror sim elements akin to a Resident Evil title.
You play as a plane crash survivor stranded in a forest where cannibal humans live. So, the gameplay loop is about exploring the wild during the day for resources and hiding at night to craft or resist enemy attacks.
The goal is to go back to society, and you can do it alone or with a party of up to eight players. You also get the choice to approach the enemies in stealth or aggressively.
- Developer:RedRuins Softworks
- Publisher:HypeTrain Digital, RedRuins Softworks
- Release Date:February 2021
- Platform:Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5
Breathedge is an outer space survival adventure title with a weird sense of humor. It’s a parody that still thrives on the genre’s mechanics and success at delivering great gameplay.
Most of its gameplay happens around the ship wreckage at the beginning of the game. You play as “The Man,” just a guy trying to take his grandpa’s body to a funeral in outer space. However, you ship, and your companions are gone.
Using what you can find from the wreckage, you must reach your destiny. You start by building a simple base and crawl your way to functional ships. Along the way, you’ll fight freezing, freezing, incineration, blunt trauma, electrocution, depression, storms, cannibals, and suffocation
- Publisher:505 Games
- Release Date:May 2011
- Platform:Windows, macOS X, Linux, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Android, iOS, Kindle, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
Terraria is an open-world survival action-adventure game, with plenty of crafting, lots of exploration, and a 2D 16-bit procedurally-generated world. It also has a story about saving NPCs from specific bosses and helping them build something.
In essence, you explore the underground and the surface for loot, resources, and combat. Then, you hang back at your many bases to keep building structures, gear, potions, and more.
That said, the combat in Terraria evolves greatly over time. You start with basic weapons, but you can unlock skills, magical powers, weapons, and gears by finding and building better equipment.
- Developer:Campo Santo
- Release Date:February 2016
- Platform:Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Firewatch is a single-player first-person mystery game in the Wyoming wilderness. The only NPC in the world is talking to you on a handheld radio, guiding you through the game.
It’s the year 1989, and you, Henry, have the job of keeping the wilderness safe. However, something amiss draws you further into the wilds to search for questions during the hot summer.
Subnautica fans will find its environmental storytelling appealing. You’d consume the story through notes, dialogue, and clues.
- Developer:System Era Softworks
- Publisher:System Era Softworks
- Release Date:December 2016
- Platform:Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Astroneer is a cute exploration game with a deep base-building system. It’s a 3D sandbox adventure game focusing on crafting, resource gathering, and exploration.
In essence, you move between seven planets to gather resources. Then, you use these resources at your base to create tools, labs, generators, panels, oxygen tanks, and anything you need.
Lastly, you can play in co-op with up to four players at your party. Each would become an “Astroneer” in the 25th Century Intergalactic Age of Discovery.
- Release Date:July 2016
- Platform:Windows, macOS X, Linux, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One
Starbound is also a 2D crafting-adventure game featuring 16-bit graphics and music -like Terraria. The depth of its story, crafting, and survival systems may appeal to Subnautica fans.
The game delivers a sci-fi setting with a great emphasis on storytelling. You play as an intergalactic bounty hunter, searching for criminals and gangs. Soon, you’ll be exploring various planets to find the criminal’s bases and dungeons.