Subaeria Preview

Subaeria is a procedurally generated puzzle roguelike that just entered Early Access on Steam. I got access to a preview copy of the game, and so I’ve been taking its heroine Styx for a run through her post-apocalyptic undersea world.

Related Video We streamed Subaeria on our YouTube Channel:

subaeria-preview-styx

The Early Access version of Subaeria features the story of Styx, a rank-and-file worker on an undersea arcology. Styx is addicted to video games and racks up an enormous debt. In this post-apocalyptic future, going deep into debt marks her for extermination by the underwater station’s army of cleaner robots. Now she must fight the robots, with the help of her drone, and try to escape her fate by any means necessary.

Subaeria consists of a number of connected rooms grouped into levels, with each room containing some number of blue and yellow cleaner robots. The objective in each room is to destroy these robots, although Styx has no direct offensive capabilities of her own. Instead, she must exploit each robot’s weakness to damage from robots of the opposite color.

subaeria-preview-cleaners

More characters and more levels are planned for the final release, but Styx’s story is the only one in the game so far. There are multiple endings (including your death…) to unlock, and a set of 60 different rooms that are arranged procedurally and can vary in difficulty.

I must say I like Subaeria’s art style, and the soundtrack is really quite good as well. The cleaner bots look all passive and even friendly… until they start to try and shred your poor body to pieces. The transitions between rooms are fast but still manage to look cool.

subaeria-preview-boss

I’m not sure how I feel about the roguelike aspects of Subaeria. It’s an interesting approach, but I find myself frustrated having to play and replay the early levels when the later, harder levels are where I want to focus. I still need to really bring my “A” game to these early challenges, though, or I’ll end up ill prepared to face the later levels. Many modern roguelike games allow for some sort of progression, or even a way to skip easy early levels. I’d love to see something like that in Subaeria’s future.

Compounding the repetition is the fact that there’s a limited number of rooms in the game. Sure, there are more robots on later levels, and some of the rooms only show up later in the game, but you’ll still probably see the same room two or more times in a typical run through. I know more rooms are on the agenda for the full release, so this is another issue I’m hoping gets cleared up by then.

subaeria-preview-drone

I find myself not really utilizing the drone much. Part of the problem I have with Styx’s drone is that the powers aren’t very clear – the icons don’t really express their use very well, and the descriptions are often murky. There’s also a low limit to the number of programs you can find for it, so I always felt like I should conserve. Finally, it’s never a requirement to use it, and the puzzles tend to be simple enough and action-oriented enough that I feel like I can solve them without using it.

Subaeria
Links:Homepage, Steam
Release:9/22/2015 (Early Access)
Price:$12.99
Our Thoughts:

Subaeria has a lot going for it – a unique concept, great art, and some fun core gameplay concepts. However, it’s not altogether clear how all this will gel in the final game. There’s definitely some room for improvement in several key areas. Still, Subaeria is definitely a game to keep an eye on, especially for fans of action puzzlers.

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