Below Zero Feedback from someone who waited for the final game (Spoilers)

rcf31415rcf31415 Join Date: 2021-05-19 Member: 270340Members
I will start with the one thing that I think needs fixed and shouldn’t be too hard. You should not be able to complete the game without curing the Kharaa. Robin would want to finish what her sister started and AL-AN would want to remove it as well. I managed to finish the game without doing this (didn’t realize that I could) and felt the game rather hollow because there was no closure for Sam’s death which was the opening storyline. It would be like deactivating the gun from the first game, where building AL-AN’s body is like building the rocket. Cool contrast to the first game which had a physical barrier if this game had an emotional one. It would be easy too, just add a few lines of dialogue from either Robin about finishing what her sister started, or AL-AN about not wanting to leave till his initial work of removing Kharaa is done, or both. Glad I went back to a previous save and eventually figured it out but this really was overlooked.

Ok now for a more long winded review/suggestions on the story. I will start by stating that I am a player who decided to wait till the game came out to play it and have avoided all trailers and all other material that might contain spoilers so that I could enjoy the full experience at once. I am aware I am not unique in this but this is not a perspective that you get with early access. Since I am late to the feedback party most suggestions will naturally be concepts to keep in mind for future games but I will still provide them Specifically for this game anyway in hopes that some make it in. Also note I liked this story, It was not the greatest ever but it worked and I genuinely enjoyed it even if I think there are issues.

First thing to note is that this story is far more complicated than the original and I think several things need to be done to account for that. As an open world game the player can approach the story elements in almost any order and It would be nice to have the game account for that. Even if a player is trying to play the story in order without giving a list with spoilers it is inevitable that new players will do something out of order. For example in my playthrough I totally missed the cave entrance to the frozen leviathan the first time I explored that area (weather is disorienting ;) ). I didn’t go in there until well after I knew what had happened, yet Robin still acted confused. It would be nice if several versions of the dialog could be ready depending on what the player has already done when it hits the trigger. For Example if you happen to go straight to the frozen leviathan Robin could experience a little jump scare and be all confused. If you already have a PDA referring to it then use what is currently there. If you have the PDA from Marg’s greenhouse then something more understanding like “so this is where it all went down” and a comment on how Sam’s plan didn’t fully work. I think most if not all places that Robin makes a comment on the state of things you should have 3 different Scripts set up. 1 for no information gathered on the issue, 1 for some information gathered, 1 for a critical piece of information gathered. It would be nice if such options were to be added, it would create some replayability as players try to get all the options and it would be less immersion breaking for new players going out of order. This could also be expanded to 6 things if you include the with or without Al-An factor (you may already have this in there but I have only played once).

Speaking of Al-An, he is a major component to the story and after reading several other posts I realize I am not the only new player to miss it entirely, I had already explored most of the map by the time I grabbed him. I know you wanted to be mysterious but without knowing what is down there it is just a weird signal. I was busy trying to figure out what happened to Sam so it seemed like a side quest and I did not yet have a Seatruck or prawn suit and only had basic O2 tank and was not willing to go into a cave that was over 100 meters deep at the time I got the alert and promptly forgot about it soon after. I know now that there are plenty of oxygen plants along the way and a breathable room at the end but as a new player there were way too many unknowns to think that dive was a good idea. A story critical component like that simply should not have been placed so deep. That said a suggestion to improve it at this point would be to add 2 more prompts to go down there as you pass it. Make sure to only give the 2nd prompt if a player has either a prawn suit or a seatruck that can go that deep or else make sure they have extended O2 tank and rebreather and have already passed the sanctuary depth at some point. 2nd comment should also be more encouraging like “the signal is getting louder. Someone must be getting desperate. I really should check that out.” 3rd time should be after the player has an ultra tank and/or took forever to respond to the 2nd alert. The beeping should be louder and heard father away and Robin should now say “I really need to go down there NOW.” That may be annoying but If a player really is missing it like I was then they need the prompting. Players who choose to go down after the first prompting need not get the other 2 and still get the satisfaction of finding out on their own that it is important but this way players who are less curious about it don’t get too left behind.

To compare Below Zero to the original Subnautica, the original only had one main plotline, to survive. You found the gun and realized you were infected but that just added extra steps to get off the planet and did not change the end goal. Launching that rocket felt so satisfying largely because that was the main objective the whole way through the game. I love that Below Zero takes a new direction in its story. Starting off by deliberately stranding yourself to find your sister created a very different vibe from the get go, and then having Al-An and his struggles and banter was enjoyable. However there are now 2 separate story lines with different goals 1 newly introduced later into the game and as such the game is a little disjointed. Having 2 parallel story lines is all fine and good but they need to have some intersect as it stands they just distract from each other. The way I played the game made it seem like the Al-An plot distracted more from the Sam plot since he was constantly in your head and asking for you to finish finding his body, and where Robin tries to help Al-An, Al-An never showed more than a mild interest in Sam. Admittedly I may be missing something since I got Al-An so late but if he could ask more questions about Sam and grow to show a desire to help Robin find closure it would do a great deal to strengthen their relationship as a two way street. A few more conversations like the one about the Hope poem would be a great help here. Robin could give Al-An a story of when they were kids or Al-An could ask what it means to be a Sister or why Robin cares so much even if she does not have a network connection like he had with his kind. Some more passive conversations to help her find closure would be nice and strengthen the relationship between Al-An and Robin making her departure with him at the end more believable. Furthermore to add a unifying objective, once Al-An learns of the Kharaa and Kharaa cure he should pressure Robin more towards removing the bacteria from the frozen leviathan to finish what Robin’s sister started or better yet add an ingredient that Sam might have been missing that way helping Al-An also contributes to getting closure with Sam’s death. This would converge the two plot lines to a single goal and like I said at the beginning I think that removing the Kharaa should have been required as it is needed as closure to the opening narrative. Since I missed that and had to go back the first impression I had of the ending felt a little hollow. As an extra note, if a line could be inserted as they were taking off about “I wish Sam were here” then Al-An trying to comfort Robin before “time to leave the past behind” would also help close the story off.

Some additional minor requests for the story.) 1.) more random banter between Robin and Al-An, like over the music box and the dreams. One for hatching an egg in an aquarium would be one Idea or comments after escaping the jaws of a chelicerate, deploying a spy pengling and getting it infiltrated, interacting with Sea Monkeys, or any other host of random events. Then maybe some follow up comments over completing the music collection to continue what was said the first time you play music where Robin says her favorite song or something, or a conversation about how they both like science if you collect and hatch all the different creature eggs. Just a lot more random banter between the 2 that has nothing to do with the plot just with random gameplay moments to show a growing friendship more. 2.) Giving Margarite a few more to say as you walk around her base and scan random things like the reaper skull. 3.) Give a few PDAs explaining why the base was abandoned (if they are there I never found them). I am thinking some quarantine was needed after the lab attack and the incident at the frozen leviathan coupled with harassment from Margarite would work.

Anyway hope you like the feedback, sorry it wasn’t sooner but I prefer to play games with a story after early access. Planning to start up a 2nd play through soon and can’t wait to see if you actually make another one of these games.
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