The concept of a game where you trick your enemies into killing each other is definitely intriguing. However, does Subaeria live up to its promising and clever premise? Let's go for a dive and find out.
Subaeria takes place in a dystopian world. Basically, global warming flooded the Earth thus forcing humankind to relocate to an underwater civilization. There, a dictator rules with an iron fist and "cleanses" those who commit any sort of crime. This means that his army of robots chase down and kill anyone who's marked as a criminal. You play as Styx who excels at hacking and loves video games. So, she hacks into a game in order to play it for free then the robots kill her parents and soon come for her. I must admit, this part of the story made me laugh out loud. Who in their right mind would risk being hunted by killing machines and having their family killed just to play a video game for free? It's absolutely ridiculous but thankfully, the world is still intriguing complete with distinct and detailed environments and plenty of desperate NPCs that you can communicate and exchange items with.
You're probably wondering what Subaeria's gameplay is like so allow me to explain. Basically, you run and jump through 3D rooms in a top-down perspective while trying to lure enemy robots into killing each other. As soon as all the machines in a room go down, you can move on to the next one. However, robots with the same colour can't kill each other so you have to guide different coloured ones to their demise. The same rules apply to hazards such as lasers, too. Anyway, you can equip a couple of Apps simultaneously that can help you deal with the robots by allowing you to control them, push them away, or fool them with a decoy. There are loads of Apps to find so experimenting with what each one is capable of is a quite a fun endeavor.
Subaeria has a roguelike setup in that whenever you perish, you have to begin the game all over again from the start. Each time you play, you might unlock a few different Apps that'll spawn from then on so it's not a total loss whenever you bite the dust. That being said, it's still incredibly annoying considering the procedurally generated world is stage-based so you'd think that you can start on whichever stage you died on but you can't. Also, there aren't that many varieties of rooms so you'll encounter the same ones over and over again and it gets repetitive fast. There's no comprehensive tutorial either so you'll have to learn the ins and outs of the gameplay by experimenting and picking up hints from the NPCs and loading screens. This makes early deaths especially annoying because you don't have much of a chance to learn how to effectively play before you're pushed into Subaeria's dangerous world.
As of writing this, Subaeria suffers from some of the worst glitches that I've ever seen in a game. First of all, one of the main menu options is "Unlocks" which displays everything you've acquired so far. You can see the Endings and Apps just fine but the Boosts section simply doesn't work. It just brings up the Apps screen but you can't interact with it. Next, when I fought the second boss for the first time, no enemies spawned so I was just running around when the boss tried its best to off me. I had no idea what was going on but I eventually perished and upon fighting it again, the enemies showed up and just then, I understood that it was a glitch the first time I faced it. Finally, you obtain Boosts as you play that do things like extend your life meter. However, one time, I turned off the game then booted it up later and upon continuing from my last save, my life meter was back to normal size again. That was frustrating.
Subaeria's premise is brilliant and has loads of potential but its poorly executed roguelike structure, lack of tutorial, and severe glitches make it a tough game to recommend in its current state. Hopefully, we'll see a more fully realised version down the road.
- + Truly unique and clever gameplay premise that has a lot of potential
- + Loads of Apps to experiment with
- + Intriguing setting and environments
- - Currently has far too many glitches that constantly get in the way
- - Could use a better tutorial
- - Roguelike structure is irritating