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Impressions: Subterrain

Subterrain is a poorly named, but surprisingly excellent indie-ish game that came as part of the April Humble Monthly bundle. It is essentially a top-down survival horror crafting game, minus any base-building. As someone with an interest in survival-type games, this one scratches the itch very well.


Limited field of vision can lead to nasty surprises.

The premise is that you are a researcher on a Martian base who gets thrown in jail, and then the power goes out. For a week. You eventually escape the prison and work your way to Central Command, and try to piece together what happened and why there are infected zombies and other creatures running about.

I’ve spoken about Economy of Design before, and there’s a compelling, intuitive call to action in this game. Specifically, the complex’s powerplant is slowly grinding down. There is already too much damage to sustain power to every single zone, so you have to choose which zones to send power to, with the others getting no Oxygen or Heat (assuming their Oxygen and Heat generators are even online). As it turns out, the infection plaguing the colony spreads faster in cold, non-oxygen environments. As each zone gets more infected, more powerful enemies appear, and at 50+% infection a bunch of zombies appear in Central Command and try to destroy the generator. So there is a race to find materials and blueprints to craft replacement power plant cores to power more zones and slow down the infection.

You have to balance the running around implied above, with more mundane concerns like food, water, sleeping, and even toilet activities. Each zone you enter typically needs to have Oxygen/Heat generators repaired too, so you have to bring along your own temporary supply of both lest you suffocate/freeze while exploring. There are enemies too, of course, so having a good supply of weapons and healing supplies are a must.

All the while, the clock is ticking and the infection is spreading…


No, really, I was super excited about finding forks.

To be honest, despite the above, it’s difficult for me to say how much fun the game actually is. I’m certainly enjoying it thus far, as it pressing a lot of my buttons in terms of survival and crafting and planning shit out. Fighting enemies is pretty easy, and exploring becomes quicker once you realize that 99% of everything is shit not worth sorting through. To an extent, I hate how formulaic it gets in the mid-game, where I’m at. I’ve unlocked everything in Tier 1, for example, and now to get the Shotgun v2 and Improved Nightstick (etc) I have to unlock Engineering Software v2 and Research Software v2, both of which were found in the 5th floor of X location.

In the meantime, I’m spending my time playing this instead of Destiny 2 because I like collecting all the things regardless of the pointlessness of the activity.


It is kinda true what they say about donating to Kickstarter and the like: you can’t stop at just one.

I’m stopping at two.

Meet Darkwood, a top-down survival-horror roguelike with crafting elements. It is also open-world and procedurally-generated, but I’m kinda tired of typing out that phrase. Could we maybe come up with an acronym or something? “Pro-gen” or maybe start using Minecraft as an adjective. Anyway, Darkwood is actually over on Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter, and as of two days ago it passed its $40,000 goal, by virtue of my $10 gamble no doubt.

Take a look at the video:

What caught my eye – aside from the fact you never really get a good look at the monster(s) you are fighting, or how you can’t see the light shining behind you – is when the dude laid down a bear trap, put meat on it, soaked it in gasoline, and then set a gas trail on fire to burn the trapped monster. That… is pretty clever. Plus, I’m a big fan of looting. Not the sort of mechanical action of inherent to every game ever, but the whole ransacking of an abandoned house in search of random post-apocalypse survival tools. I always find that sort of thing both compelling and mentally soothing at the same time.

Please announce Fallout 4 at E3. Please announce Fallout 4 at E3. Please announce Fallout 4 at E3.

Anyway, it’s $10 to secure your infinitely reproducible digital copy on Indiegogo. The projected release date is “mid-2014,” which is admittedly a bummer. Even if you’d rather wait for my inevitable review, do go ahead and pop open your Steam client and vote for the game on Green Light. The more of these indie games that get onto Steam, the more likely you can pick them up for 75% off later. Win-win.