Something out there in the dark. Surviving The Abyss, the latest colony simulator in the Surviving series, clearly does not give you a reason to be afraid. There is no water glass moment in Jurassic Park when a monstrous sea creature approaches through the inky darkness.
However, there is definitely something there. His presence hangs over Surviving The Abyss, out of reach of the high lights that illuminate the ocean floor around your underwater colony, protecting it from the unknown.
Not that the known is less scary. In Surviving The Abyss, you have to manage a deep-sea scientific center to master human cloning. However, from the moment you plunge into the abyss, you are responsible for turning it into a self-sufficient colony, making sure that there is enough food, air to breathe and energy to make everything tick. As you grow, you will need more crew to maintain the stations, but you can do it yourself by cloning willing workers using biomass obtained from sea creatures.
These first clones will be lucky if they live two months riddled with mutations and a bunch of other oddities that happen when you mix human DNA with the DNA of a clown fish. You will never see these colonists, instead you will see them in submarines that surf the ocean floor, in transport submarines that move from place to place, and in softly lit corridors.
The building itself is pretty quiet, although you’ll have to consider how buildings like your coal generators can affect air quality, installing purifiers, or building garden domes to keep your colonists happy and healthy. There are several research trees that you can spend by dropping research points created by your labs, unlocking more efficient buildings, as well as fun things like docks or science buildings.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been afraid of deep water all my life, but there’s something depressing about the dark depths, so much so that survival here seems more difficult than in other games in the Surviving Mars and Surviving the Aftermath franchise. You do the same thing as in other colony simulators, in that you get resources and use them to thrive and survive in harsh conditions, it’s just that the place here seems so desolate and cold.
I haven’t been to the bottom of the sea (lifelong fear of water) or to Mars (game journalists are not natural candidates for astronauts), but both are quite difficult to survive there. However, although Surviving Mars paints an optimistic picture of life among the stars, here on earth, deep below sea level, the Cold War environment and the overall tone create the feeling that prosperity here will be an uphill struggle.
People will die, even if it’s just hundreds of clones that you create in pursuit of science.
It’s still too early in the game’s early access cycle to recommend it, but Surviving The Abyss looks promising even at this stage. Regular updates can make this colony builder project interesting to watch in 2023.
Survival in the Abyss is available on PC.